Fri 30 Mar 2012
This is part of a timeline of significant events and important vessels of Maine maritime history. This first bit covers up through 1800. There are several more sections to come.
Maine Maritime Timeline
ca. 10,000 BC – ca. 1500 AD: Native Americans became skilled at using Maine’s maritime resources. They caught and ate many species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, as well as porpoises and whales. They designed and built dugout canoes and bark canoes which were extremely well-adapted to local use, and were capable of lengthy coastal voyages.
1604-1605:A French expedition with Samuel de Champlain explored both the Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers and much of the coast, making the first real charts of parts of the Maine coast and wintering on St. Croix Island in the St. Croix River.
1605: English captain George Weymouth explored part of the coast, and kidnapped five Natives.
1607-1608:A short-lived English colony was established by Plymouth Company at what is now Popham Beach, at the mouth of the Kennebec River. A shipwright named Digby built the pinnace Virginia there. This 30-ton vessel was the first ocean-going vessel built by English colonists on the mainland of the New World, and the first European-style vessel built in Maine.
Circa 1650:Clark & Lake settlement on Arrowsic Island established a shipyard.
1669-1673:Woolwich-born William Phipps (later Sir William, the first native-born Royal Governor of Massachusetts) served his shipbuilding apprenticeship at the Clark & Lake shipyard on Arrowsic Island.
1676:A large ship nearly completed by William Phipps at his shipyard in Montsweag carried Sheepscot settlers to safety in Boston at the outbreak of King Philip’s War.
1695: H.M.S. Falkland (Fourth Rate, 2-decker) built at Kittery.
1775:Benedict Arnold’s army passed up the Kennebec River to attack the British at Quebec, buying a fleet of bateaux (220 of them) from boatbuilder Reuben Colburn at Pittston.
1777: John Paul Jones’s Ranger (a corvette) built at Kittery.
1779:The amphibious Penobscot Expedition, the largest of the Revolution, was assembled to attack the British fort at Castine, but failed. All the Patriots’ vessels – about 39 – were sunk, captured, or destroyed by their crews to avoid capture. One of these wrecks – Defense – was investigated by archaeologists in the 1970s.
1800:First government shipyard set up at Kittery by the Navy, called Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.