Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 1

January 9, 2018

Avatar Maynard Bray

This post showcases photos from the Penobscot Marine Museum (PMM) that I feel OCH members will enjoy. A large percentage of the 100,000 historic photos that you can view on PMM’s website are of boats and waterfronts, and what they looked like 50 or 100 years ago. Digitizing old photos and posting them online is an ongoing mission for PMM. The six scanners there barely cool off as the dozen dedicated volunteers keep feeding them photographic negatives to make into high-resolution images. I believe that PMM leads all other maritime institutions in this endeavor.

The stories that go with these photos are equally important, so if you have information to add, by all means do so. Just leave a reply (in the space at the bottom of this page) and we’ll see that it gets back to PMM where the staff there can digest and post it. And don’t forget that, just by clicking on the images, you can enlarge them to view the details. What you see might surprise you!




Pronounced the same but spelled differently,  from the Asian Korea, Maine’s Corea remains picturesque today, but its harbor is way more crowded—brim full of lobsterboats, each swinging to its own mooring. At the beginning of the 20th century when this photo was taken, lobstermen hauled their traps from sailing craft known as Friendship Sloops like the one in the center of this photo. By clicking on it and then zooming in, you can see details. I think the boat’s deck is about to be painted because her jib boom has been let go forward and topped up aft so it dangles over the side, clear of the foredeck. The anchor rode has been tied off to the mast so that it, too, is off the deck. And there’s a broom standing on the cabintop after having swept down prior to spreading paint. In the far left distance, you can see the boat’s owner rowing back after picking up the painting supplies from his shop on shore. (If you don’t like my made-up story, feel free to compose your own.) Early mornings before the wind comes up are the best time for painting—and it’s also a great time for a row. (LB2007.1.105075)


These guys are out for ducks, not fish or lobsters, and the retriever, if he tires, might welcome an assist from the skiff towing astern. Are those dish towels drying under the boom? (LB2000.52.2191)


Launching day at the Barbour Shipyard in Brewer, Maine, in 1902. The 110′ x 28′ coastal steamer VERONA, however, will be the last of the many steamers to slide down the ways of this prolific builder. She’ll operate downriver serving Penobscot Bay towns near the one she was named for. (LB2008-26-221)

Continue on to Part 2

Please remember, if you know anything more about what’s in these photos, be sure to make a comment. Your stories, recollections, and specifics will help us all to better understand these images.

Prints of these and many more images can be ordered from Penobscot Marine Museum. All are made from high-resolution scans which are adjusted for contrast and tone. They are printed individually onto Museo Fine Art paper with archival pigment inks and packaged with a backing board in a protective sleeve. We recommend going all the way with a glorious 16″ x 20″ print for $60.00, but smaller ones are available as well: 8″ x 10″ for $25.00 or 11″ x 14″ for $45.00. Click here to order.



10 Responses So Far to “Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 1”:

  1. Avatar Peter Erickson says:

    Is that a sandbagger on the left in front of Verona?

    • Avatar Maynard Bray says:

      Could well be, although I suspect it is a typical low-freeboard sloop of the era of which there were many. Looking closely, I can kind of convince myself that there’s a low cabin, created by planking over the forward part of the coaming. Wouldn’t it be fun to be one of the onlookers?

  2. Avatar Ben Fuller says:

    Down in Corea, past Scoodic, they probably just called that sloop a sloop boat; build all up and down the coast and it wasn’t till we got rusticators and a promotional fellow like Wilbur that they hardened into Friendships no matter where they were built. The sloop boat does need paint pretty badly, but the young feller in the very small double ender is probably not the person that will do it. There is also an interesting raised cabin motor boat up on the left and a motor launch on the right.

  3. Avatar Robert Saul Isenberg says:

    The boat on the mooring looks like a Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack. Water tight bulkheads from the after section of the cabin house to the after end of the the bridge deck allowed holes in the bottom to let in sea water. A nineteenth century livewell. The Bahamians still use them! I believe it was the Friendship, ME gang that added topmast for topsail, club, jib and flying jib. I don’t know if the did this to adapt them for speed to market or retired workboats to race. I do know many have been built as yachts. I know the Morse Bros. boats were some of the finest built.

  4. Avatar Lee Fox says:

    I enjoy looking at old pictures like these and try to discovery the story! The first picture has a nice Muscongus Bay sloop and to the far right is a Friendship sloop! I also like all the Peapods and the young lad rowing! Where is ?Corer? Maine

  5. Avatar David Jeffery says:

    Why would someone go hunting ducks with what looks like a rifle? Maybe he’s after seals.

  6. David Tew David Tew says:

    My wife has been working on a similar, but much smaller scale, online-accessible photography project for the Boothbay Historical Society. The examples of detailed captioning you and Bill Bunting have done for photos from long-gone days have been inspiring, bringing scenes into a clearer focus and immediacy. Barbara Rumsey, as you can imagine, is very particular about what she claims for the photos, but I enjoy your imaginings of the sloop owner pulling back to the boat with painting supplies. The subject of the photo might appreciate it also, all of us wondering what he was up to.

    • Avatar Joe Coomer says:

      Does anyone else want to go through Verona’s scrap pile? Those skirts could hide some nice graving pieces, though the walk away might be demanding. Thanks, Maynard

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