Work

Turning a Lobster Pot Buoy on a Lathe

Today lobster pot buoys are made of a hard flotation foam and bought at marine supply stores. Fifty years ago, they were made of wood and had to be turned round on a lathe to give them their shape. Earlier buoys were carved by hand using a hatchet from squared off pieces of wood.

Inside a Sardine Factory

Sardine packing became highly mechanized with companies in Eastport making special machinery for packing and producing tins. This shows the inside of a sardine factory, about 1920, with a hand oil filler; these were superseded by automatic fillers. The sardine cans were filled with oil before being closed and cooked. When this photograph was taken, machinery took power from belt drives coming from one large engine.

This photograph is from the Atlantic Fisherman collection.

Drying Fish, Bucksport

Summer visitors to Bucksport could buy this postcard showing fish drying at Nicholson's Wharf, Bucksport, Maine. Thomas Nicholson was one of Maine's last Grand Banks cod fishing schooner owners. By the time of this postcard, this was a rare sight. After processing, cod were salted and dried on fish flakes. Once dry, the fish were packaged for shipment. Dried salted cod could keep for well over a year.

Schooner Salting Down a Herring Catch

A schooner loads herring from a small boat alongside, salting down the fish as it goes into the hold. The fishermen are standing thigh deep in fish presumably caught in the weir to the left rear of the photograph. Bagged salt is spread on the deck where it can be shoveled into the hold with layers of fish. A chute lets the fish be easily shoveled over the schooner's rail. Salt was a large portion of fishing expense in the days before ice plants and gasoline and diesel engines, which made fresh fishing possible. But herring were always salted as they were headed for the cannery.

Sardine Cans

Sardine fishing and canning was a major Maine waterfront industry from the 1870s to the 1970s. It began in Eastport in Washington County and spread down the coast. There were factories in Eastport that made sardine cans and labels. Eating sardines has gone out of fashion in the American market and supply has become limited. Now, there is only one operating sardine canning plant in the state. A hundred years ago, there were at least thirty different canneries up and down the coast.

Mast Ships

llustration of the mast ships and the preparation of their loading. Ports in the ends of the ships allowed mast timbers to be slid into the ship without shortening them. These ports would be closed and caulked shut after the cargo was loaded.

From the book, New England Masts and the King's Broad Arrow, by Samuel F. Manning, 1979. Illustrations courtesy of the author and illustrator.

Felling a Mast Tree

Felling a white pine tree. Smaller trees have been cut and their boughs and trunks laid for a soft landing for the mast tree.

It's hard to imagine trees this size today, and even harder to imagine cutting them down without chain saws. It took sharp axes and strong men.

From the book, New England Masts and the King's Broad Arrow, by Samuel F. Manning, 1979. Illustrations courtesy of the author and illustrator.

Granite Eagles, Vinalhaven

These eagles were carved for the Buffalo, New York, Post Office. From 1896 to 1898, carvers and stone cutters at the Sands Quarry on Vinalhaven, operated by the Bodwell Granite Co., cut stone for this building. These eagles were famous enough to have their carvers recorded: Robert Whyte, Charles Athearn, Robert Clarke, and Elbridge Rolfe. According to Whyte it took 150 work days to carve an eagle. 

Another photograph of these eagles and more photographs of the Vinalhaven Quarries are in Images of America, Vinalhaven Island, Vinalhaven Historical Society, 1997.

Saw Mill, Belfast East Side

There must have been hundreds of waterpowered saw mills in Maine. It does not take much water to run one. Here Belfast photographer, undertaker, and chronicler of his town, Charles R. Coombs, caught this small mill on the Goose River in Belfast, just off Swan Lake Avenue. It was then run by Dan Robertson.

Harvesting Hay

Hay was a very important export from Belfast. In 1887, Belfast shipped out 11,000 tons of hay, much of it coming from interior sections of Waldo County. Hay was just about as important then as oil is today, as it provided the "fuel" for horses in big cities like Boston and New York before there were automobiles and trucks.

Here a two horse team pulls a hay wagon on which two men stack the hay tossed up by two others with pitchforks, somewhere in Waldo County.

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