Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 4

January 9, 2018

Avatar Maynard Bray

Once hung as part of a formal exhibit, these images and captions are presented here for OCH members, thanks to our friends at Penobscot Marine Museum. The remaining photos of the Ed Coffin collection will soon be viewable on the museum’s website.

A Century of Service. Her sails are up and drawing, but the ancient (1805) schooner POLLY is going nowhere. She’s hard aground, and the tide is dropping fast, skipper Chandler Farr probably having gently nosed her ashore for caulking and painting her bottom. This is in Owls Head Harbor where Farr made his home. Although built in Amesbury, Massachusetts, POLLY was homeported in Rockland from 1876 to 1902, and before that in Mt. Desert. Later, she was registered in Belfast. (LB2013.21.373)


Driven Ashore. The three-masted schooner NATHAN F. COBB was both built and owned in Rockland. Launched in 1890, this 167-footer was only six years old when she came ashore at Ormond Beach, Florida—after drifting for four days. She’d departed Brunswick, Georgia, with a load of lumber and railroad ties, but a northeast storm laid her over on her beam ends, and to right her, the crew had to cut away her masts.  (LB2013.21.346)


Nearing the End. The boom times of World War I still prevailed when the 192’ four-masted schooner FREEMAN was launched in the spring of 1919 from the old Cobb-Butler yard (reorganized a year earlier as the Francis Cobb Shipbuilding Co.) at the foot of Mechanic Street in Rockland, Maine. Nearly 300 workers were employed at the time, spread out to complete the two vessels that show on the stocks behind the FREEMAN—the schooner LUCIA P. DOW and the steam freighter RIPOGENUS. The curtain dropped for schooner building a year later, in 1920, with the launching of Rockland’s last four-master, the JOSEPHINE A. MCQUESTIN, the final vessel launched from that site. (LB2013.21.413)


Barbershop at Sea. Capt. Charles A. Colcord of Searsport, master of four-masted schooner D.H. RIVERS of Thomaston, is having his hair cut atop the vessel’s deckload of lumber while the first mate awaits his turn. (LB2013.21.412)


Fleet at the Ready. This scene is believed to be in Castine, Maine, at what is now Dennett’s Wharf, and shows a hotel’s fancy rental fleet of rowboats and small sailboats, with their owners/skippers, awaiting customers. Backrests and flags adorn the rowing craft while the sailboats look ready to shove off as soon as there’s a breeze. Each rowboat has its own stern line, probably attached to a common underwater cable, that helps keep it separated from its neighbors and square to the float.  (LB2013.21.423)


Heavy Load. A scow sloop loaded with firewood sails up the St. George River where she’ll unload at one of Thomaston’s lime kilns. She’s a burdensome craft and perfect for carrying wood from the nearby islands, but not a vessel for offshore work. (LB2013.21.409)


Large Cargo. Marine salvage expert Capt. John I. Snow of Rockland had charge of moving this 40’ x 45’ Federal-style house by barge from Phippsburg where it was built in 1806 to Rockport where it is being unloaded to become the summer residence of Donald Dodge at Deadman’s Point.  (LB2013.21.213)


Bringing in the Wood. In the 1870s and ‘80s, Rockland was all about wood, the great bulk of it brought in by water to fuel the city’s lime kilns. Timber wharves lined the waterfront and generally jutted out only far enough for high tide use. Here at David Gay’s Lermond’s Cove wharf, the tide is out and both vessels lying to it are hard aground. Across from them at the Crockett’s Point kilns, however, there’s more water depth and those vessels remain afloat. Instead of lime kilns, the FMC biopolymer plant now occupies that spot, and the Maine State ferries pass its wharves daily on their way to and from Vinalhaven and North Haven. (LB2013.21.368)


Wartime Construction. The first of two barges built in Camden for World War II, named PINE TREE #1, just prior to christening by Eleanor Roosevelt. James P. Stevens superintended her construction. Another wartime vessel, the APc on ways at left, was overseen by Rockland Boat Shop’s Axel Gronros. Four were built. (LB2013.21.183)


The First Six-Masted Schooner. The 320’ coal schooner GEORGE W. WELLS, launched from Camden’s Holly M. Bean yard (now Wayfarer Marine) on August 4, 1900 has been fitted out and lies to her anchors, ready for sea. The WELLS was the first schooner to carry six masts; as if that weren’t enough, managing owner John Crowley commissioned the steel-hulled seven-master THOMAS W. LAWSON a year later. (LB2013.21.264)


Transitions. Waving good-bye to departing dandies, the finely dressed lady and her yachting friends mark the beginning, in 1902, of Camden’s transition from an industry-based waterfront to one of recreation. The schooner-rigged Canadian woodboat MAGGIE ALICE lies at the dock, having recently unloaded wood for lime burning at the adjacent kiln. Their days were numbered.  (LB2013.21.374)



Continue to Part 5



7 Responses So Far to “Voyaging Thru Time: Photographs from Penobscot Marine Museum, Part 4”:

  1. Avatar Ben Fuller says:

    For FLEET AT THE READY, further research seems to indicate that this was Dennett’s wharf in Castine. Belfast didn’t have the summer hotel structure needed to support this kind of fleet. The Castine hotels did and there are other views of this wharf. How many people noticed the trick way that the operators had of keeping the boats neatly nosed in?

  2. Avatar Aren Carpenter says:

    Lying in bed with a crappy cold I am eternally grateful to all the OCH creators for their efforts to bring us this treasure of maritime material.I’m able to attend the boat show in Tasmania,follow Maynard and Eric thru the Mystic seaport boat collection,and brush up on my navigation and knot tying. As soon as my nose stops running I’m going to go build a sloop on the nearest beach! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Avatar Charlie McLaughlin says:

    Priceless treasure !

    Thank You !

  4. Avatar Geoff Kerr says:

    What a fine cup of coffee before heading for the shop this morning. Thanks!

    • Avatar Todd Van Gordon says:

      Geoff, I took your cruising class out of the WBS two summers ago and keep a picture of your Ned Ludd on my computer’s home screen.
      Even though I have been a member of OffCenterHarbor.com for over a year, I just started to appreciate it (and love it) since I am now retired.

  5. Avatar Philip Myer says:

    Great photos Maynard- thanks Philip Myer

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