Page 22. MAINE COASTAL NEWS January 2013 Maritime History HISTORY FROM THE PAST - Bangor Daily Commercial - 1890s 24 April 1899
Revival of Shipbuilding Industry in this State.
Review of Recent Operations in Our Leading Shipyards and Forecasts of Fu- ture Prospects.
A Bangor Paper’s Careful Compilation of Work Done During the Past Year in the Various Customs Districts – Sketch- es of Prominent Shipyards and Builders – An Encouraging Outlook Indeed. (The Industrial Journal.)
There is no more encouraging sign of the times than the revival in shipbuilding. From the earliest times the building of vessels has been one of the most prominent of Maine industries. Nearly three centuries have elapsed since the VIRGINIA was launched near the mouth of the Kennebec and the pinnace of 30 tons constructed by the Popham carpenters has been succeeded by such giant crafts as the ships SHENAN- DOAH, 3253 tons, and ROANOKE, 3400; the fi ve-masted schooners, GOV. AMES, 1689 tons, NATHANIEL T. PALMER, 2244 tons, and the JOHN B. PRESCOTT, 2249 tons; and the steel sailing ships ERSKINE M. PHELPS, 2715 tons, and ARTHUR SEWALL, 2919 tons.
For some years depression had char- acterized the shipping business and the shipyards have in many instances been deserted. The 74,466 tons of new vessels sent forth from Maine yards in 1890 steadily declined until during 1897 the new tonnage amounted to 5,037. During 1898 a decided improvement, however, was visible and ves- sel aggregating 27,295 tons were launched. The season of 1899 opens auspiciously and since the beginning of the year there have already been launched the big four masted schooner JOHN B. PRESCOTT at Camden, the steel sailing ship ARTHUR SEWALL at Bath, and the magnifi cent yacht APHRODITE. Big fore-and afters are now in general favor and four fi ve-masted schoo- ners are now building or under contract in Maine – three at Bath and one at Camden – while possibly a six-masted schooner may ere long materialize.
In the years gone by, Kennebunk district has contributed many a fl eet and handsome vessel to the merchant marine. During 1898, however, quietness reigned in the shipyards there and no new vessels were launched. There is on the stocks at present a barge of about 100 tons burden, to be launched in the vicinity of May. This craft is intended largely for the transportation of brick. Portland and Falmouth. Falmouth.
Shipbuilding in this district during 1898
was confi ned to the construction of small steam craft. Two steamers, the VIVIAR and the CORA, of 7 and 13 tons respectively, were built by N. A. Jacobs, the veteran boat builder. The Portland Shipbuilding company did a large amount of repairing, and also constructed two steamers, the F. T. WILLARD, of 36 tons, and the MINA and LIZZIE of 34 tons. The steamer CORINNA has been building this winter by N. A. Jacobs and will be completed during April. She is a stern propeller, 72 feet long, 14 feet beam and draws 5 ½ feet. She has an extra white oak frame, ceilings three inches thick and galvanized fastenings throughout, a shelf streak six by eight of hard pine and hard pine planking an inch and a quarter thick. The Portland company will furnish engines, etc., and she will accommodate 200 passen- gers. Her route will be between Portland and Princes Point.
Bath easily maintains her lead as the shipbuilding center, not only of Maine, but
of New England. The tonnage of the vessels launched from the Bath shipyards during 1898 was 24,734, a very material increase over the year preceding. There has been an increase in the construction of barges, and 19 of these were launched during 1898, while there are several in process of construction in the yards of the New England company and Kelley, Spear & Co., and one not yet launched at the yard of Hon. Wm. Rogers. Among the notable vessels of last year was the steel sailing ship ERSKINE M. PHELPS, launched in the summer from the yard of Arthur Sewall & Co., the tonnage be- ing 2715 tons, and from the same yard there was launched on February 23d the splendid steel sailing ship ARTHUR SEWALL, registering 2919 tons and an illustration of which appears in this issue.
Three big schooners were included
among Bath’s contributions and all of these are illustrated in this issue. The NATHAN- IEL T. PALMER, the first five-masted schooner to be launched at Bath, was built by N. T. Palmer and has a net tonnage of 2244 tons, exceeding by more than 550 tons the tonnage of the GOVERNOR AMES, which up to the time of the launching of the PALM- ER was the only fi ve-masted schooner that had gone forth from Maine shipyards. The next largest schooner sent out from Bath during 1898 was the ALICE E. CLARK, built by Percy & Small, with a net tonnage of 1395. The four-masted schooner RACHEL W. STEVENS, was launched by the New England company and is a handsome craft with a net tonnage of 1032. One of the noval crafts built at Bath was the steamship WIN- IFRED, built by the Bath Iron Works, and the fi rst tramp steamship to be built in America. The WINIFRED had a length of 304 feet, beam 42 feet and draft 25 feet, registering 1455 tons. The magnifi cent steam yacht APHRODITE, built at the Bath Iron Works for Col. Oliver H. Payne, at the cost of half a million dollars, was launched during the winter and has only recently sailed for New York.
Shipbuilding prospects are very encour- aging in Bath at present and already there are being built three fi ve-masted schooners, one each by the New England company, Percy & Small and G. G. Deering. Arthur Sewall & Co. are to build a steel sailing vessel and a steel bark while the Bath Iron Works have under contract torpedo boats, a monitor, the practice vessel CHESAPEAKE and a yacht for New York parties.
The New England Company. The New England company are the successors in business of the New England Shipbuilding company, Goss & Sawyer, and Goss, Sawyer & Packard. They own a shipyard large enough for building eight or ten vessels at once, having an extensive deep water front on the Kennebec river at the capacious harbor of Bath, which is open through the coldest winter seasons. At this yard is a marine railway of large size; two steam mills well equipped with modern machinery for moulding timbers and vessel work of all kinds; a galvanizing shop, extensive blacksmith ships, rigging and mould lofts. They have on hand a corps of skilled mechanics, foremen and superin- tendents, a large stock of vessel material, and in short possess facilities for the rapid and economical construction or repair of wood- en vessels superior to any other yard in the United States. The company guarantees that all work entrusted to them will be done with the utmost dispatch, in a superior manner and at moderate prices. Galen C. Moses is president and Isaiah S. Coombs, treasurer of the New England Co.
The yard of the New England Co. has from 600 to 700 feet water front on the
Kennebec river and is one of the best yards in the world. Every modern convenience has been added and the mills and blacksmith shops are now run by electricity. The Marine Railway is one of the best in the country and has a great deal of work to do, from 80 to 100 vessels being hauled out yearly. Besides this large number a great many vessels are repaired that do not require to be hauled out. The company built in 1808 the steamer SAGAMORE for Hon. Frank Jones, of Portsmouth, N. H., the four-master schooner RACHEL W. STEVENS, of about 1200 tons, and fi ve large barges for the Consolidated Coal Co., of Baltimore. It has at the present time a contract to build fi ve more barges for the same company and also a fi ve-masted schooner for Massachusetts parties. The fi ve-master schooner to be built by the New England Co., the present season is to be for Capt. Whitman Chase of Taunton, Massachusetts, and Joseph A. Bowen of Fall River, Massachusetts. This big craft will have a length of keel of 230 feet, width of 45 feet, and depth of 22 feet, with a poop extending far enough forward to take in the main mast. Her tonnage will be in the neighborhood of 1800 tons. The company was organized more than 40 years ago and during that time has built 274 vessels. There has been years of depression during that long period and in some years but few vessels were built while in other years the number has reached 20 or more. In 1873 12 vessels were built, in 1877 10 vessels, in 1879 nine vessels, in 1880 17 vessels, in 1881 22 vessels, in 1882 24 ves- sels, in 1883 14 vessels, in 1884 10 vessels, in 1886 11 vessels, in 1888 10 vessels, in 1890 10 vessels, in 1891 eight vessels, in 1895 nine vessels, in 1898 eight vessels, and it now looks as though 1899 would be one of the busiest years in the history of the country.
It would be impossible in the space of this article to give a complete list of the vessels built by this enterprising and reliable company but we will mention a few of the most important ones. We fi nd that the com- pany has built 143 schooners, seven brigs, 35 barks, 26 ships, 27 steamers, seven steam barks, four steam schooners, 11 barges, four barkentines, one sloop, two yachts, one steam tug and two or three vessels of other descriptions.
Some of the more notable vessels built by the company are: Ship J. H. Kimball, 1,171; bark EDWIN H. KINGMAN, 1,025; bark CHAS. W. COCHRANE, 1,014; bark ZENIA, 1,046; ship B. P. CHANCY, 1,228; ship LEADING WIND, 1,053; ship MARY L. STONE, 1,298; ship CITY OF PHIL- DELPHIA, 1,335; ship ASTORIA, 1,284; ship PALMYRA, 1,251; bark WESTERN BELLE, 1,007; bark BELLE OF OREGON, 1,040; ship BELLE OF BATH, 1,303; bark FOREST BELLE, 1,159; ship HECLA, 1,411; ship FLORENCE, 1,558; bark JONATHAN BOURNE, 1,349; steamer MOUNT DESERT, 241; bark GUY C. GOSS, 1,394; bark WILLIAM W. CRAPO, 1,459; ship WILLIAM J. RATCH, 1,503; ship TACOMA, 1,597; ship JACOB E. RIDGEWAY, 1,603’ ship HENRY FAIL- ING, 1,837; ship CHAS. E. MOODY, 1,862; ship WILLIAM H. SMITH, 1,859; steamer CUMBERLAND, 862; steamer WIN- THROP, 1,148; steamer SAGAMORE, 298; steamer SAPPHIRE, 112; steamer KEN- NEBEC, 821; schooner MARGUERITE, 1,520; steamer COTTAGE CITY, 1,485; steamer MANHATTAN, 1,488; steamer BAY STATE, 1,186; steamer ST. CROIX, 1,595; steamer SALACIA, 183; steamer LINCOLN, 532; steamer SAGAMORE, 58; schooner RACHEL W. STEVENS, 1032.
It will be seen by the above partial list that the New England Co., has built some of the fi nest vessels now sailing under the American fl ag.
Arthur Sewall & Co. The steel shipyard of Arthur Sewall & Co. will be a busy place throughout the season. The fi rst of the Sewall fl eet, the brig DIANA, was launched in 1823, and since that time shipbuilding has been continued by the family. The pioneer shipbuilder of the family was Wm. D. Sewall. In 1855 the fi rm became E. & A. Sewall and remained so until 1882 when the present name of Ar- thur Sewall & Co., was adopted. There have been built in all by the Sewalls 97 vessels, seven of these being brigs, 17 schooners, 69 ships and four barks. The Sewall ships have already been noted for their large size, and 45 of this fl eet exceeded 1,000 tons each. Five years ago Arthur Sewall & Co., changed over their plant and arranged for steel shipbuilding. The DIRIGO, built by them, was the fi rst steel sailing ship ever built in America and now their fl eet includes the ER- SKINE M. PHELPS, launched in July, and the ARTHUR SEWALL, which entered the water a few weeks since and which has only recently gone on her maiden voyage. Hon. Arthur Sewall, senior member of the fi rm is justly proud of the fi ne craft which bears his name. Work had already commenced on another steel sailing ship of about the same lines as the ARTHUR SEWALL while work will also soon commence on a steel bark to measure from 1800 to 2000 tons. Both of these vessels will be launched in the fall and crew of from 250 to 300 men will be kept busy in the Sewall yard. Kelley, Spear & Co.
The shipbuilding fi rm of Kelley, Spear & Co., Bath, consists of J. R. Kelley, E. F. Sawyer and D. H. Spear. They are contrac- tors and builders of wooden vessels, also dealers in hard pine and oak timber, oak and locust treenails. E. F. Sawyer is the superin- tendent.
Capt. John R. Kelley, the senior part-
ner of the fi rm, was born in Phipsburg. He began going to sea when a boy and for 31 years was master of ships and steamers in the ocean trade, without a mishap to one of his vessels. Retiring from the sea, he entered upon the construction of vessels, in which he was previously interested, and became the senior partner of one of the most enterprising shipbuilding fi rms in this country. D. Howard Spear was born in Bath and was educated in the city schools. He com- menced to work in the shipyards in early life and was foreman blacksmith in the yard of Goss & Sawyer for a number of years. Afterwards he worked for the New England Co. He also served in the city government, is director in the First National bank and a trustee in the Peoples’ Safe Deposit and Savings Bank. Elijah F. Sawyer was born in Pownal, Maine, and commenced to work in a ship- yard in 1847, 52 years ago, and has been at work ever since. He was a member of the fi rm of Goss & Sawyer for several years, but when the fi rm of Kelley, Spear & Co., was formed in 1886 he became a member of the fi rm and is the superintendent. Although well along in years Mr. Sawyer is very active and is apparently as vigorous as the average man of 50 years. The fi rm since its organization in 1883 has built 66 vessels, and had in March fi ve vessels on the stocks. We present a fi ne cut of their shipyard in this issue. It is one of the best yards in Maine. The natural slope of the ground is just right and all the surroundings are pleasant. The mill is equipped with the most improved woodworking machines, and the yard has all the modern devices for
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