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The Penobscot Marine Museum will launch Getting Our Bearings, a new permanent exhibit, in its Main Street Gallery this season. Through a collection of objects, photographs, and primary source documents, the exhibit introduces the key themes of the Penobscot Marine Museum. It explores how maritime communities fed the Atlantic work, built America’s Merchant fleet, constructed pre-Civil War America, became America’s Vacationland, engaged in global trade, and served as homeports and homesteads. Museum visitors will get to see how the sea has impacted—and will continue to impact—daily life on and around Penobscot Bay.
Getting Our Bearings is sponsored by Hamilton Marine and is funded in part by a major grant from the Maine Bicentennial Commission with additional grant support from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust.
We’re excited to announce our first unveiling of Maynard Bray’s photographs online. As many of our audience know, Maynard is still alive and well and living in coastal Maine. He’s been working on and around boats for most of his life and has gone out of his way to meet countless others of a similar stripe.
After landing a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, he went to work for Electric Boat in Groton, CT in 1956, followed by a six-year stint at Bath Iron Works. By the time he finished there in 1969, he’d become their Chief Mechanical Engineer. He spent the next six years at Mystic Seaport as their shipyard supervisor. Here he was in his element: up to his elbows in wooden boats. After leaving Mystic for Maine in the mid-1970s, he stayed involved with Mystic Seaport into the early 2000s: he continued sourcing wood for the museum’s endless restorations, serving on the Ships and Yachting Committees, rescuing important collections of ships’ plans from becoming landfill, and as one of the Museum’s trustees. Shortly after returning to the Maine coast, he landed a gig as technical editor for WoodenBoat magazine, a position he still holds today. He’s also been writing the captions for Ben Mendlowitz’s Calendar of Wooden Boats since 1983.
Luckily for small boat aficionados—owners, builders, admirers—Maynard photographed his activities along the way, beginning when he was a teenager. He donated his collection of some 25,000 black and white negatives to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2013. The photos illustrate the fascination Maynard and his late wife Anne shared for traditional craftsmanship and their joy at being on the water.
This initial rollout represents Maynard’s own selection of his early medium format film work, and will be followed throughout the coming year by sets of his 35mm images.
But the best way to make this announcement is in the photographer’s own words. Maynard writes:
This first batch of 200 or so photos were mostly shot when I was in Junior High School (about 1947 and 1948) while my pal Don Merchant and I haunted the Rockland waterfront and our less geeky classmates were playing sports. Snow Marine Basin was then being created on Crocketts Point, across from where the Maine State Ferry terminal is presently located, and we hung out there, helping, immersing ourselves in boats, and taking lots of photos.
Fish processing in Rockland made for a working waterfront that fascinated us: its draggers and sardine carriers became so familiar that we knew which ones were in port just from seeing their mastheads as we peddled our bikes down Sea Street.
Don’s photos are also at PMM (collection LB2013.13), and by viewing his and my collections together you’ll get a good idea of what was going on along the Rockland waterfront in the days following the Second World War when fish were plentiful and yachts were few.
If you search for PIXIE/EAST WIND, PENOBSCOT, SEA WOLF, LELA, ALLSTON E., NABBY, CUCKOO, and BRUTAL BEAST, you’ll find what our own boats or the ones we used looked like. The steam lighter SOPHIA and the little tug HUGH were special to us even though they were on their last legs at the time. Search on Snow Marine Basin and you’ll begin to understand why both Don and I chose maritime professions.
My obsession with Herreshoff began with boats like DELIGHT, VENTURA, COCKATOO, and JOYANT, discovered after Anne and I were married and moved to Mystic, CT.
More recently, Maynard is one of the co-founders of OffCenterHarbor.com (or more commonly, OCH); OCH subscribers have access to engrossing and entertaining documentary videos the team produces. Their focus is on people who make, own, use, and repair small boats with a creative, DIY flair. PMM has often collaborated with OCH to share and mutually promote content.
Finally, we’re glad and lucky that Maynard spends a day a week during the cold months here in the PMM photo archives (as did his wife, Anne, before she died in 2018), donating his time to help us get his and other collections ready for our internet audience. We trust everyone will enjoy the fruits of this long labor. To browse his images, click here.
Marty Bartlett, now in his eighties, is done with the ocean, but he’s a character who was clearly shaped by his lifelong interaction with it. His photographs are a privileged on-deck view of tuna and sword fishing during a critical time for those fisheries. While searching for images from PMM’s National Fisherman Collection for a book he was writing (Wind Shift at Peaked Hills, a creative nonfiction account of sword fishing) , he offered to donate his work here. While the images don’t tell a Penobscot Bay story, their powerful place in the recent history of the Gulf of Maine made the choice of accepting his gift an obvious one.
Bartlett grew up fishing with his dad along the shores of Cape Cod. The pair missed a couple of years during the second World War; he recalls seeing columns of black smoke from burning tankers offshore. After the war, fish stocks rebounded somewhat; he could catch pollock with a mackerel jig off the beaches. The father-son ritual was finally abandoned after dad, in a lapse of attention, backed the Model A into the garage with the fishing rods standing like flagpoles, snapping all of them.
Bartlett enlisted in the Coast Guard for four years after high school. This intensive sea time gave him the chops to find work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he spent six years crewing on research vessels; there, he worked his way up to second mate. During this stint, he was lured into the WHOI game fish tagging program by its progenitor, research associate Frank Mather. Mather had achieved some renown for his project, which involved a novel tagging mechanism for large pelagic fish; his tags used a small barb which was embedded in the thick skin of a tuna or swordfish from the end of a long pole. In contrast to loop and other tag styles, these remained in place for four years or more. Tags, of course, allow scientists to track the growth and migratory patterns of fish, which in turn can provide insight into the impacts of fishing on the vigor of populations.
He’d bought a Leica and was shooting some 35mm film showing the work he was a part of, but boat crew and research personnel don’t often have the luxury of being observers, or “tourists”. It wasn’t until a few years later, when he started getting invitations to act as a guest artist on commercial fishing vessels, that his moment came to document the dynamic realities of harvesting large predator fish. These captains were of course in pursuit of profitable landings, but research entities like WHOI were willing to pay them to tag some animals and throw them back. Bartlett captured scenes of both longlining and seining; US fishermen in the North Atlantic were late adopters of these practices, both of which had a devastating impact on swordfish and tuna stocks.
Bartlett’ career had further significant chapters; he eventually bought his own boat, the Penobscot Gulf, a burly steel-hulled workhorse which had been used to haul fuel to the islands of Penobscot Bay during WWII. He fished commercially from the Gulf with a crew for several years until swordfish, tuna, and groundfish stocks began to disappear in the 1980s.
The group of images we’ve rolled out this month can be viewed here:
This is the only the first wave of Bartlett’s archive; keep an eye out in the coming months for another announcement as we continue to digitize these important and engrossing photographs.
Penobscot Marine Museum has recently launched a new microsite dedicated to their Kosti Ruohomaa photography collection. The site highlights the photographer and his collection, and features standout examples of the photographer’s work in a virtual exhibit. The site will also provide updates on the effort to digitize, preserve, and make this resource accessible to the public.
The archive of the Rockland, Maine photographer was donated to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2017 by Black Star of New York, Ruohomaa’s photography agency. The collection consists of thousands of medium and large format negatives, 35 mm negatives and slides, as well as contact sheets and vintage prints.
Ruohomaa’s work graced the cover of Life magazine numerous times, and was used frequently by other major magazines such as National Geographic and Look. While his published work is fairly well known, it represents less than 10% of his photographic collection; the rest have never been seen by the general public. This multi-year digitization and preservation project will allow these previously seen and unseen works to be accessible to the public.
The Kosti Ruohomaa project has been generously funded by Linda and Diana Bean, the Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation, and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
To view the Kosti Ruohomaa microsite, visit https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti-ruohomaa-collection/. For more information on this collection and any of the Penobscot Marine Museum photo collections, contact Photo Archivist Kevin Johnson at 207-548-2529 ext. 210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to a grant from the Maine Historical Records Advisory Board (MHRAB), Penobscot Marine Museum has rehoused and cataloged four collections documenting quintessential nineteenth and twentieth century Maine industries. The collections document the shipping of Maine’s natural resources, the use of Maine built ships in the global trading routes, and the evolution of Maine’s lobster boats.
The Gillchrest Collection consists of over 3,000 family letters, ship documents, and business correspondence of Captain Levi Gillchrest, a Thomaston, Maine merchant mariner, spanning from 1826 to 1877, involving the shipping of Maine lime and timber around the globe. The Gillchrest Collection is a gift of Renny and Julie Stackpole.
The Richard Lunt Collection documents the lobster boat builders in Mount Desert and Jonesport/Beals, from 1880-1989, and explores the regional origins and early evolution of the Maine lobster boat that led to the design differences between the Jonesport-style, Mount Desert Island, and Casco Bay lobster boats of today. The Richard Lunt Collections is a gift of Richard Lunt.
The Whitcomb, Haynes & Whitney Business Records provide insight into the day to day business of an Ellsworth, Maine lumber and shipping business from 1873-1929. The Whitcomb, Haynes, & Whitney Business Records are a gift from Marc S. Blanchette.
The Samuel F. Manning Illustration Collection archives the illustrations of Camden, Maine illustrator Samuel F. Manning, from 1970 to 2017, on subjects ranging from ship and boat building, to coastal and deep sea shipping, to Maine town histories. The Samuel F. Manning Illustration Collection is a gift of Samuel F. Manning.
To access these collections, and the rest of the maritime history and genealogical archival records of the Penobscot Marine Museum, please contact Cipperly Good, Curator/Collections Manager at email@example.com or 207-548-2529×212.
About Penobscot Marine Museum
Penobscot Marine Museum brings Maine’s maritime history to life on a campus of beautiful historic buildings in the charming seacoast village of Searsport, Maine. Exhibits include hands-on activities for children and adults, as well as a ship captain’s house, marine paintings, scrimshaw, 19th century Chinese and Japanese pottery, boat models, historic Maine boats, a fisheries exhibit, and an heirloom garden. The Museum has over 200,000 historic photographs, and a maritime history research library. Museum offices and research library are open year round. Exhibits are open seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through the third Sunday in October. PMM’s Visitors Center is located at 40 E. Main Street, Searsport, Maine. For more information call 207-548-2529.
Penobscot Marine Museum has teamed up with the Belfast Free Library to answer this year’s Camden Conference question: “Is This China’s Century”. The Camden Conference is an annual conference that fosters “informed discourse on world issues” and this year it runs from February 22-24, 2019. As a lead-up to the main event, the Camden Conference sponsors satellite events around the state of Maine. In December, PMM Curator Cipperly Good gave a talk to audiences at Belfast Free Library arguing that the Nineteenth Century was in fact China’s Century. Our second collaboration with the Library is an exhibit of color prints depicting Chinese daily life from the early 1900s. The exhibit is on view now until the end of February, 2019.
These prints made from color transparencies, provide a glimpse into the lives of the Chinese aboard watercraft, a means for fishing, transportation, and housing. By 1900, China had transitioned from a feudal agrarian economy that resisted foreign commerce to one that embraced the global economy of imports and exports. A society kept hidden by centralized government with strict laws against foreign visitation was now open to the overtly pointed lens of the camera.
So how did Maine and China interact in the Nineteenth Century? Penobscot Bay captains entered the China Trade in the 1840s. The First Opium War of 1844 opened up five treaty ports in China to foreign trade. The Second Opium War of 1858 cracked open more coastal treaty ports and the inland rivers. The sailing ship captains of Maine engaged in the trade until the first decade of the 1900s. The American sailing cargo ship trade failed as foreign steamships took control from the American Merchant Marine, which failed to make the transition to steam early enough to remain competitive.
Captain Brown acquired these color transparencies of Hong Kong and Mainland China and gave them to Joanna Carver Colcord. Joanna, born at sea and raised on her father’s merchant marine ships, came from a long line of Searsport sea captains. The family made three voyages to Hong Kong, in 1890, 1892, and 1899.
By PMM Volunteer David Ruberti
Sometimes one of our small collections can be one of our most interesting. We have recently added one of those to our on-line database. The photographs were donated by the great-grandchildren of the man from Belfast who is the subject of the collection:
He was born in Lincoln in 1853 and as a young man he farmed, went to sea and was a general laborer on the railroad after moving to Belfast. With his savings, he started a company to manufacture carriages where he was manufacturing as many as 300 carriages per year and doing $36,000 a year in business, a remarkable amount in a small town. With the money he made on that enterprise, he invested in Dana’s Sarsaparilla as one of the owners and the manager. Later he managed the Nutriola Co. of Chicago and was indicted in the US courts on several counts for sending obscene matter through the mails, and was sentenced to one year in Joliet penitentiary and fined $5000. The conviction was later overturned as having no merit by The U. S. Circuit court of Appeals in Chicago.
He was the director of People’s National Bank and president of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad. As a man who was always on the hunt for financial advance he invested in the Eastern Importing & Breeding Company which imported Belgian hares and was also an investor in the Petit Manan Island land development company.
In politics, he was a lifelong Democrat and, as such, served 10 terms as Belfast’s mayor as well as a state senator. Also, as a democrat he was diametrically opposed to Charles Pilsbury and his “Republican Journal” which encouraged him to found the “Waldo County Herald” which was to have been more politically neutral but quickly devolved into partisan politics with a decidedly Democratic bent.
He brought Herman Cassens to Belfast to take a job with his Cream Publishing Co. that published the magazine “Cream”, which was published from 1897 to 1898. Cassens eventually married his daughter Lillian. With his financial aid, Cassens founded, the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. in 1909, and later worked at the Waldo County Herald where his father-in-law was editor and publisher.
He was a principal shareholder at Maple Grove Campmeeting on Cain’s Pond in Searsport where he was also a frequent preacher. For the first 23 years of his life Edgar attended numerous Spiritualist meetings but later, he had an epiphany, in which he saw Spiritualism as the Devil’s trickery and published Demonology or Spiritualism.
He retired to Florida but soon became a land developer as the Square Deal & Development Company and became the owner and developer of the largest avocado grove in the world. It was a square mile in size and located west of Miami. It was destroyed in two separate hurricanes in 1926 and 1928. He passed away in 1933 at the age of 80 and is now a permanent resident of the Smart Cemetery in East Belfast.
He was Edgar Filmore Hanson aka The “Man from Maine”!
Visit our on-line database and see this fascinating local character through the photographs from his family albums. A big thanks to Edgar’s great grandson Mike Hanson or sharing this wonderful collection!
Our May 2018 newsletter is online. Read it here.
Penobscot Marine Museum, a history and arts museum with nationally-recognized collections, announced today that the Board of Trustees elected Karen E. Smith, Ph.D., as Executive Director effective April 19, 2018. Smith will join the Museum from the Cedar Falls Historical Society, where she served as Executive Director for six years.
“After a thorough and deliberate national search process, the Board of Trustees is delighted that Karen will lead our cherished Museum as we adapt to changing interests and needs of our visitors, and to rapid advancements in technology that can enhance public access to our nationally-recognized collections,” said Stephen J. Tall, President of the Board of Trustees. “Karen brings many years’ experience successfully growing the Cedar Falls Historical Society, when it had opportunities and challenges similar to ours. I am confident Karen is the right person at the right time to take the helm and lead our crew.”
While at the Cedar Falls Historical Society, Smith led work to define the society’s strategic vision, developed new public programs, built partnerships with other community organizations, created more hands-on opportunities, and refreshed their brand and marketing. As a result, visitorship increased from 6,400 in 2012 to over 14,400 in 2017.
“I am excited about this opportunity to lead the Penobscot Marine Museum and to further its dynamic, interdisciplinary approach,” said Karen Smith. “I am impressed by the many different ways the Museum preserves and interprets the Penobscot Bay region’s rich marine history throughout its campus and beyond—from its maritime painting and photography collections to its historic sea captain’s house and hands-on learning for all ages. I look forward to working with Stephen and the entire Board, the Museum staff and volunteers, and to becoming a part of the community in the coming months.”
Prior to joining the Historical Society, Smith worked at the Iowa Governor’s Residence as a curatorial research assistant, and the Old Capitol Museum and the Obermann Center, also in Iowa. She previously was a college instructor in writing and rhetoric, and was a volunteer manager and coordinator for a large social services agency. Smith obtained her doctorate in American Studies from the University of Iowa in 2011. She has a B.A. in English from Earlham College in Indiana. Smith grew up in Marion, MA and has family in Maine and New England.
“After considering dozens of candidates from across the country, and giving careful thought to the needs of the Museum, we interviewed and vetted seven highly qualified museum professionals,” said Dianne Smith, trustee and chair of the search committee. “We were fortunate to have a very strong pool of candidates, a testament to the appeal of the region and Searsport, and the significant potential of the Museum to be a world-class institution.”
Penobscot Marine Museum is the oldest maritime museum in Maine. With twelve historic buildings, including a ship captain’s home, housed on its Searsport campus, Penobscot Marine brings Maine maritime history to life. Exhibits include hands-on activities for children and adults, marine paintings, scrimshaw, 19th century Chinese and Japanese pottery, paintings and textiles, historic Maine boats, a fisheries exhibit, and an heirloom vegetable garden. The Museum has over 200,000 historic photographs, and a maritime history research library. This summer’s exhibit will focus on ship models and their uses. A model pond will provide opportunities to sail and race models. Check the website for daily activities and events. The Museum is open seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through the third weekend in October. PMM’s Visitor Center is located at 2 Church Street in Searsport, Maine. For more information call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or Administrative Offices at 207-548-2529.
The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund is a scholarship set up by friends of Anne Bray, who died in March 2018. Anne was a tireless volunteer for Penobscot Marine Museum, and a passionate keeper of the flame of Maine’s Maritime History. She was the founding research director, and librarian, for the WoodenBoat library at WoodenBoat Publications in Brooklin, Maine.
The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund will enable enrollment of a deserving young person between the ages of 16 and 21 in one of the WoodenBoat School’s one-week sailing courses. This will be offered annually for as many seasons as possible. Applicants will be reviewed, and one will be selected each year at least a month beforehand.
Donations in support of this endeavor may be mailed to: The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund, Penobscot Marine Museum, P.O. Box 498, Searsport, ME 04974. Please make checks payable to Penobscot Marine Museum with a memo that the donation is for the Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund.
Interested applicants should contact Giffy Full, 99 Naskeag Pt. Rd., Brooklin, ME 04616 to express their interest and tell a bit about themselves. Giffy may also be reached at (207)-266-1243.
Penobscot Marine Museum presents Cooking with Sea Veggies with Micah Woodcock of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. Attendees will explore the culinary possibilities of Maine’s native sea vegetables and will prepare several dishes using local seaweed. The program is free and open to the public. This free presentation will take place on the Penobscot Marine Museum campus.
Cooking with Sea Veggies continues the conversation begun last summer at Maine Marine Fare about what we take from and eat from the sea off the Maine coast. Woodcock will work with participants to distinguish different seaweed and to learn the uses of each as well as how the seaweeds are harvested, and their culinary, ecological, and economic importance.
Micah Woodcock is the owner/operator of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, a small business working to sustainably hand-harvest sea vegetables in Penobscot Bay since 2010. Woodcock’s harvesting operation is based on a remote island 7 miles off of Stonington, where the strong currents, active surf, and full exposure to the force of the open ocean have allowed these seaweeds to thrive for millennia.
For more information or to reserve your space, please call Penobscot Marine Museum at 207-548-2529.