Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 3

January 9, 2018

Avatar Maynard Bray

What follows is a small sample from the about-to-be-released Irving Nevells photo collection of Penobscot Marine Museum (PMM). When it comes to scanning photos and making them accessible, PMM is a leader, nationwide. To date, 100,000 negatives and prints have been scanned and you can access most of them online at the Penobscot Marine Museum Photo Collection.

Irving Nevells covered the waterfront for the National Fisherman during his years in mid-coast Maine. His collection consists of about 2,500 negatives, half of which are marine-related. Saving them was a near thing as the following email exchange indicates:

From the donor (So. Dartmouth, MA, spring of 2012):  I have a box of negatives that I plan on throwing away if I cannot find a interested party. I am sure they have some local appeal but are dated relatively late (1962 to 1970)

From Kevin Johnson (Penobscot Marine Museum): We would be interested in saving his [Irving Nevells] negatives from the trash if that ends up being their fate.

From donor: There are approximately 250 envelopes that contain 3 to 20 negatives (2 1/4″x 2 1/4″). Originally these negatives were purchased by my father from Mr. John J. Smith of the Amber Boat Works, Amber PA. back in 1980.

From Kevin: Could I somehow persuade you to donate them here?

From the donor: I think a donation may be in order. Let me get the okay from my siblings.

From Kevin: When you have a chance, take a look at our photo collections page on our website, in particular, Carroll Thayer Berry’s page as he must have been friendly with Mr. Nevells. This is how we present our various collections. Our collections are available to the world in our online database for research, education, and just the joy of looking at the old photos.

Wooden skiffs, wooden lobster traps, and a peaceful harbor full of wooden boats defines Camden Harbor of the 1960s. (LB2012.17.2434)


The years at Mystic Seaport didn’t work out for the arctic schooner BOWDOIN so Camden became her new homeport for a spell, beginning in 1968. Here, a gang evaluates her bottom planking as they peel away ice sheathing. (LB2012.17.1829)


Starting with a long white pine log, a two-man chainsaw, and some reference marks, BOWDOIN’s skipper-custodian, Capt. Jim Sharp, (far side, with pipe) and his saw-owning helper rough out a new foremast in downtown Camden’s parking lot in the fall of 1968. The schooner, built in 1921 by Hodgdon Bros., was subsequently acquired by Maine Maritime Academy as a sail-training vessel. She’s now Maine’s official tall ship. (LB2012.17.1816)


Camden’s Elmer Collemer was always at it, as were several other mid-coast builders, his specialty being classic sailing yachts in the 30 to 40-foot range. (LB2012.17.2463)


The lovely 28’9” LOA sloop HERITAGE, one of Collemer’s best, is almost ready to slide down the ways on July 14, 1962. Murray Peterson, inspired somewhat by the working sloops of Friendship, Maine, designed her. (LB2012.17.1903)


HERITAGE under sail off Camden. (LB2012.17.1395)


Inside Camden Shipyard’s Quonset Hut, Malcolm Brewer turned out three Peterson-designed, clipper-bowed, coaster-type schooner yachts: NORTH STAR (1962), SILVER HEELS (1963), and SERENITY (1964). Here (in the background), he’s built the sloop PATIENCE for himself and is finishing up EAGLE for Murray Peterson, who bought her as a wrecked Malabar, Jr. sloop and made her over into a miniature of one of his iconic schooners. (LB2012.17.1255)


Malcolm Brewer’s PATIENCE, a Friendship Sloop derivative, slides down Camden Shipyard’s railway before there was a TravelLift. (LB2012.17.1849)


Using Howard Chapelle’s drawings of the Friendship Sloop PEMAQUID, Jim Rockefeller built OLD BALDY in his Bald Mountain Boatworks shop and had oxen tow her down the hill for launching at Rockport Marine. (LB2012.17.1929)


Inspired by the Friendship Sloop Society, formed in 1961, many new replica sloops were built, artist William Thon’s ECHO being one. Lee’s Boat Shop in Rockland built her and tide-launched her off the beach on April 24, 1965. A decade or so later the iconic 92-foot ketch WHITEHAWK, also built by Lee’s shop, received the same kind of launching. (LB2012.17.2131)


Despite its small shop, Penobscot Boat Works turned out Penbo power cruisers one after another. all of them, like RUNNING FIX (shown here), after being pulled out the door until they balanced, had to be tipped until their cradle matched the slope of the launching ways. (LB2012.17.2079)


It’s a tight fit for RUNNING FIX in all directions. (LB2012.17.2394)


Let her rip! Greased ways, sharply inclined, give RUNNING FIX a splashy sendoff into Rockport Harbor. (LB2012.17.2119)


CIAO, another new Penbo power cruiser of 1962, steps out on sea trials. Yard owner Bob Lane gave all his cruisers the same basic hull shape, but laid them out with a variety of interesting cabins and interiors. (LB2012.17.1373)


Planks, rollers, and a rising tide were how some boats, like VIXEN, reached the water and floated. Not as fast and easy as today’s TraveLifts, but got the job done at far less cost. Fred Bates designed this Pogo outboard cruiser, and Gerry Libby built her in his, also basic, Rockland shop. (LB2012.17.1427)


Lash Bros. of Friendship built boats for pleasure as well as for fishing, and lots of them. This is the yacht CHARNAMI II getting a towline-assisted slide down the launching ways. Built for Charles Blanchard of Searsport, Maine, she was named for himself, his son, Nick, his daughter, Nancy, and wife, Mildred. (LB2012.17.2000)


Ice didn’t prevent the Lashes from launching the dragger DUCHESS B on January 20, 1968, or from her owners towing her away for completion. (LB2012.17.2055)


Too large for building inside of Newbert & Wallace’s low-roofed, converted-lime-shed shop, the 73-foot scallop dragger VIKING QUEEN of 1965 was one of many vessels constructed on the yard’s outside ways. (LB2012.17.2466)


The 95-foot scallop dragger, SIPPICAN II, is complete, as is her launching cradle. Come tomorrow she’ll be wedged up to rest on her bilges so that her keel blocks can be knocked out, freeing her to slide down the inclined greased ways and into the water. She was built by Newbert & Wallace in 1968 for Eldon M. Love of New Bedford, Massachusetts. (LB2012.17.0324)


Wooden boats, when they decay, are worth photographing—but not so plastic and steel. (LB2012.17.1544)


A photographer’s dream: Monhegan, a half-century ago. (LB2012.17.0375)


Continue to Part 4
Prints as large as you want of these and thousands of other photos can be ordered from Penobscot Marine Museum. Grab the file number, which begins with the letters “LB,” from the Museum’s website, then Contact Photo Archivist Kevin Johnson at kjohnson@pmm-maine.org or call him at (207) 548-2529.



12 Responses So Far to “Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 3”:

  1. Avatar Charles Shepard says:

    I own Malcom Brewers last boat, a 15 ft launch w an Acadia 4hp.
    It was finished except for painting.
    It was the time he decided to go to the convalescent to be w his wife.
    I’d like to sell the boat but want to know the most appropriate home for it.
    Any thoughts?

  2. Avatar Ed Whitehead says:

    Wow. Wonderful photos of some beautiful boats. Makes me wish I had been there to see such beauty on the waves. Thanks for posting.

  3. Avatar Ben Fuller says:

    Bob Lane’s drawings are now in the collections of PMM and MMM. Bath has the drawings of his PenBo work, while PMM has drawings of lobsterboats and skffs that he measured. All of this just happened so not cataloged yet

  4. Avatar Scott Gile says:

    These photos are fabulous! Not only are the quality of the photographs outstanding, but the prints are in such beautifuly shape. Such a rare combination of art and capturing the feeling of a lost childhood. Thanks, and don’t stop!

  5. Avatar Robert Webber says:

    Thanks for a great bunch of photographs. Brings back memories of an incredible holiday I had up and down the coast of Maine year before last. I can recognized many of the areas I visited even though these prints are many years old; Rockland, Rockport and Camden.

  6. David Tew David Tew says:

    Kevin and Maynard. Thanks for the selection and captions! My earliest memories of Camden are of Elmer Collemer sailing his PATIENCE around the harbor. I have some current photos of her (as she is now, awaiting rebuilding) if you want them.

  7. Avatar Ben Fuller says:

    Nevells sold photos to National Fisherman, so keep an eye on the National Fisherman collection as we get it on line.

  8. Avatar Greg Stamatelakys says:

    A credit to the photographer and the people so wise to save them. Thank you.

  9. Avatar Wes Reddick says:

    Kevin, Maynard, and the donor, thank you so very much for saving these photos. Thank you also for your perseverance and generosity of spirit so that we all may be inspired to make things. These glimpses of our had working waterfront prove to a future generation that indeed, boats were made of wood by the capable bare hands of real live people…not a CNC machine or 3D printer in sight!

  10. Avatar alex lemon says:


  11. Avatar Philip Myer says:

    Wonderfully chosen photos Maynard- thanks Philip Myer

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