Other the U.S.S. Constitution, the best U.S. example of a wooden ship from the age of sail is the venerable Charles W. Morgan, built way back in 1841 and still afloat at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn. This whale hunting ship is an amazing time capsule from pre-Civil War American maritime history. It is well deserving of the recently announced $5 million dollar restoration project. Of course, as sections of the wooden vessel are replaced over the years, at some point is there any original wood left and can it still be said to be the same ship that slid down the ways in 1841? Philosophical questions aside, you can check up on Morgan’s restoration here.
From the press release: Mystic Seaport will officially begin the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whaleship, during a special celebration, Saturday, September 27.
The event will mark the kick off to the Morgan’s three-year, $5 million restoration project which will renew areas of the vessel from the waterline down to below the turn of her bilge, including parts that haven’t been seen since she was built more than 160 years ago.
A National Historic Landmark and the Museum’s signature vessel, the Morgan was built in 1841 in New Bedford, MA. During her 80-year career, she made 37 voyages across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 1941, the Morgan came to Mystic Seaport, where millions of visitors have since walked her decks.
“The Charles W. Morgan is an enduring symbol of the American spirit embodied by our seafaring ancestors,” said Museum President and Director Douglas Teeson. “Mystic Seaport is honored to be the proud caretaker of this precious piece of maritime history and to preserve the vessel for future generations.”
The restoration ceremony will begin at Chubb’s Wharf at 1:30 p.m. Keynote speaker Dr. Raymond E. Ashley, Ph.D., the executive director of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, will discuss the importance of historic ship preservation. He will also read excerpts from Charles W. Morgan’s personal diary from the day the vessel was first launched – July 21, 1841.
A highly regarded and long-time member of the maritime community, Ashley came to his present position at the Maritime Museum of San Diego in 1996 following a career that included experience in ship preservation, conservation, shipbuilding, historical scholarship, publication and teaching at the university and community college levels.
Other scheduled speakers include Teeson, who will discuss the Morgan’s significance to Mystic Seaport and the Museum’s Chairman of the Board, Dick Veitor, who will detail the vessel’s planned move, haul and her three-year restoration plan.
Karen Senich, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, and Rob Simmons, Business Advocate for the State of Connecticut, will also speak.
The event will conclude with the ceremonial lowering of a yard from high above the deck. This initial phase of down-rigging will mark the beginning of the Morgan’s restoration “voyage.”
Additional tours, programs and demonstrations will be held throughout the day aboard the Morgan and on Museum grounds.
The Morgan’s restoration “voyage” will continue October 19 when the whaling ship is moved from her berth at Chubb’s Wharf down alongside the Museum’s state-of-the-art Shiplift in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. The whaling ship will then be hauled out of the water November 1.
All scheduled movement for the Morgan between September 27 and November 1 is dependent on opportune weather and tide conditions. Regular updates on the Morgan’s restoration progress will be posted at www.mysticseaport.org/morganrestoration.
Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. The Museum is located one mile south of exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT, and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $18.50 for adults and $13 for children ages 6-17. Children 5 and under are admitted for free. For more information, call 888.973.2767 or visit www.mysticseaport.org.