Author Topic: Ships and boats at Wiscasset  (Read 6940 times)

Ed Weldon

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Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« on: February 07, 2013, 03:16:15 AM »
As I deal with the more prosaic aspects (module construction and trackwork) of a Wiscasset based model railroad I drift occasionally into research and planning.  Lately I'm thinking about a future waterfront module.  This gives rise to questions about the ships and boats that habituated Wiscasset harbor and the nearby estuary.   I haven't yet had much luck with a couple of days probing the internet.  Perhaps the right search words are escaping me.  Were I a New England resident I would spend a weekend in one of your city libraries or perhaps hunt up folks from the Lincoln County historical society.  But that's not in the cards at the moment.
There's that popular 1878 panorama woodcut that show quite a few ships and a few boats and at least one that looks like a tug.  A few images in some of our favorite reference books on the WW&F show ships at the docks.  But after that I'm running out of sources that I can tap from 3000 miles way in CA. 
So I have lots of questions I want to answer about modeling watercraft for the Wiscasset waterfront. That includes everything from cargo ships down to small fishing boats.  Can any of you local Maine guys or heavy historians point me in the direction of information sauces?  I'd especially like to model specific vessels rather than generic types.  Of especial interest would be specifics one of the regular tug boats that would have worked the port in the 1900-1925 period for maneuvering the sailing ships in and out of the wharfs.  Also of interest is fishing boats if any as well as pile drivers and dredges.
Thanks, Ed Weldon,  Los Gatos, CA

Mark Hendrickson

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 03:36:50 AM »
Peter Barney's book Wiscasset: seaport of the two footers, has shots of the waterfront.  I also have a book called "Lobstering and the Maine Coast" by Kenneth R. Martin and Nathan R. Lipfert.  I bought it used.  If you can find old issues of Down East Magazine from the 50's, 60's and 70's lot's of great old pictures. 
Mark Hendrickson two footing from Mesa, AZ

Ed Weldon

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2013, 08:16:55 AM »
Mark - Thanks for the leads.  I have Peter Barney's book and you motivated me to review the pics.  The one of the steamer Jeanette on pg 24 got me started on a long trail of internet searches this evening that have produced a couple of real jewels. One was a photo of the small Steamer "Winter Harbor" described in a piece about Westport as follows:
"Ice-free year-round service was provided on the Main Sheepscot River for many years by the steamer Winter Harbor.  Purchased by Captain Frank Rowe in 1908, he made arrangements with the Post Office Dept. to carry the mail from the railroad at Wiscasset to Boothbay harbor and the Islands."
By the way, the Jeanette is a little big for a 30 x 72 inch layout module that will also have about as small a cargo schooner as I can come up with.  Those huge 4 and 6 mast schooners like from Percy and Small are gorgeous; but I think a bit big for a tug to safely turn in those narrow estuaries like the Sheepscot.  Besides the sheer size of an HO model would be too much for a model train scene like I plan (hull length around 36 inches)
The other jewel was a 1915 photo of a clamshell dredge on the Saco River that looked pretty typical of the type and period.  Dredges tend to get around pretty well in their market area so it's entirely possible that this one worked the Wiscasset docks just off the Sheepscot river channel.
Both will make really neat HO waterline models.
Keep'em coming, guys.  Sometimes my mind draws a blank on search paths and the slightest hint of a name or publication title is all it takes to get going with an internet search.
I'll be looking for "Lobstering and the Maine Coast" by Kenneth R. Martin and Nathan R. Lipfert and searching for the Downeast magazine issues.
Good stuff, Thanks again, Ed Weldon

James Patten

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2013, 11:17:24 AM »
Photographer E. Joseph Leighton was a chronicler of many Maine things during the timeperiod of the WW&F.  There's a lot of glass negatives of his at the Maine State Museum, but you have to ask them to do a search.  Then there's the Maine Historic Preservation Commission (I think that's their name), also a State entity, run by historian Earle Shettleworth.  I think he's a veritable treasure trove of knowledge.

I don't know what the Maine Historical Society (in Portland) has.

Newcastle Historical Society has a number of glass negs by Ivan Flye, of a similar timeperiod to Leighton. 

Stewart "Start" Rhine

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 12:02:52 PM »
Ed, Try the maritime museum in Bath.

Maine Maritime Museum 
243 Washington Street 
Bath, ME 04530
(207)-443-1316

www.mainemaritimemuseum.org

info@maritime.org

Mark Hendrickson

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 02:26:20 PM »
Oh, the Lobstering book was published buy the Maine Maritime Museum in 1985.

Skip Breyfogle

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 07:09:58 PM »
I will suggest another possible resource for nautical/maritime information on the east cost although it is not located in Maine and therefore may not be of much help - the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA.  I haven't been to their library for several years now but I know they used to have an extensive photograph collection so if you pick a specific vessel it might be worthwhile to check their online catalog.  I just tried the two vessels mentioned above with negative results.
 

Ed Weldon

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2013, 10:26:10 PM »
I think I posted this reply in the wrong subject area. So I'll repeat it here where it belongs..... Ed Weldon

"James-  Just found and ordered a copy of the lobstering book on the internet.  Many thanks.
Local Maine museum sources are interesting and if I lived down there I'd spend a good bit of time with them.  But from 3000 miles away the collections are largely closed to me with internet methods unless I want to invest fairly large amounts of money buying images that for the most part I can't even see before I order.  And being at most a casual history buff as opposed to a serious historian I really don't have the necessary credentials to waste the time of museum staff with emails and phone conversations.  I think I will have to demonstrate some pretty tangible progress in my modeling of Wiscasset before I have much credibility there, friendly and cordial as those folks probably are.   ........ Ed Weldon"

Ed Weldon

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2013, 09:50:50 AM »
Well somewhere among the leads you folks have given me I found a path to this:
http://www.mainememory.net/bin/SwishSearch?per_page=10&q_id=%3A%3AMaine%20%28Ship%29&snum=0
which is search finding from:
http://www.mainememory.net/
This outfit has literally thousands of maritine related images that provide a lot of interesting material for modeling waterfronts.  I found lots of images and answers to my questions about boats, ships and other Maine maritime activities and commerce.  I spent a good part of two days going through a search on "ships" and learned a lot about Maine seaboard commerce in the 1885-1935 period. When I get to modeling the Wiscasset waterfront the knowledge will help me a lot in getting it right for a specific era.
While I fumble around in the Mainmemory website I begin to understand that it is a digital resource that draws its content from a wide range of Maine historical sources.  And what is becoming apparent to me is that Maine folks are far more interested in their maritime history than the various wheeled gadgets that in the last century sent most of the maritime cultural heritage into either retirement or transformation into a medium for recreation.  Especially noteworthy is the scarcity of material in mainememory.net relating to 2 foot gauge railroads.
They seem to have a lot of legal walls around their trove of images; so it may be just as well they don't mess with the narrow gauge stuff.  But one useful feature is their call numbers for each image.  Once you have a call number for an image it is easy to find with their site's search function.  That's particularly convenient for public forum discussions such as this where we are slowly being forced to avoid use of copyrighted material.  ....... Ed Weldon

Eric Larsen

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2013, 07:06:13 PM »
What scale?  There are a series of local history picture books by Arcadia publishing.  (They include a book on the Portland Company.)  Perhaps look at some of those for various coastal towns like Boothbay Harbor, Bath, ect.  There are many different books and there should be lots of pictures of ships and boats.  There were some of the steamboats out of Boothbay in one of the Boothbay editions.  One of those ran a regular route to Wiscasset and had it's own pier and "station" next to the WW&F.  If you have Narrow Gauge in the Sheepscot Valley vol. one, there are pictures of the station/ warf.  Lobster boats at the time were often sailboats, particularly a design called a Friendship Sloop.  Someone mad an HO scale model of those a while back but I don't know if it is still in production.  Various small one gas engines were also used on smaller vessels.    Some of those would be fun to make.

Ed Weldon

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Re: Ships and boats at Wiscasset
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2013, 04:22:25 AM »
Eric - thank you for your interest in my quest.  I'm working on HO scale, HOn30 trackwork.  I just ordered an Arcadia book on Boothbay Harbor among several others from Amazon. Your comment reminded me to go find the Arcadia web site and they seem to have a fine list of their publications that cover coastal Maine. I'm hoping the Boothbay book  will shed more light on Captain Frank Rowe and his little steamer "Winter Harbor".
Some research I've done suggests that he had his own landing at Wiscasset before1932 separated from the Steamship and Railroad wharfs.  But where?  An old article in the Lewiston evening Journal (Jan 29, 1942) suggests that the Winter Harbor sank near his wharf sometime when or after they discontinued service in 1932..  I'll want to make their Sheepscot River line and the steamer part of the waterfront scene on my second module.
I have studied the low resolution images of the Wiscasset wharf area in Narrow Gauge in the Sheepscot Valley vol. One and can't see any sign of a float in later pics of either of the large wharfs.  The Winter Harbor had a very low freeboard so a float would have been a necessity for departing passengers given the 11-12 foot tides in the river.  It does make sense that Capt. Rowe would have his own wharf to avoid the continual payment of docking fees to the owner of the Steamship Wharf.
Bluejacket Ship Crafters produces simple HO kits for the Friendship Sloop and a lobster boat..
http://www.bluejacketinc.com/honscale.htm
They also have HO lobster traps and a nice looking HO schooner kit
http://www.bluejacketinc.com/downeast.htm
I do wonder if there was any commercial fishing activity working out of the Wiscasset port area.  It seems kind of far from the ocean for that.  Most of the small craft in pictures of the 1905-1925 period appear to be recreational types, local workboats or ships tenders.
Ed Weldon