Down to the sea

Barbara Dyer: Building wooden boats in Camden, many years ago

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 6:45pm

Most places down by the sea built wooden vessels because at one time wind and water was the cheapest mode of transportation. Later, yachts were built for work or pleasure.

The first documented vessels were built in the late 1700s by Capt. William McGlathry before there was a Bay View Street. Then, the shipyards went from Chestnut Street down to the water. Most vessels in Camden built were sloops with only a few exceptions. The Captain went to Frankfort in 1800.

Noah Brooks builder, financed by Benjamin Cushing was the next yard along there. They were active building and repairing during the War of 1812. Deacon Joseph Stetson joined Brooks until Brooks went to Boston and the Deacon carried on with a much larger yard.

Then the Deacon moved to the head of the harbor, before there was an Atlantic Avenue (Camden Public Library property today). 

Many other small builders went there, including Augustus Mirick,  John E. Dailey, Israel Decrow, Capt Isaac Coombs and Oliver Clarey, to name a few.

In the direction of Eaton Avenue today there was a yard run by Thomas Hodgman and Russell Glover.

Holly M. Bean bought that area and was one of the most prominent shipbuilders in the mid-1800s on to 1900.  Then his son, Robert, had a shipyard there and built about 10 vessels until sail was going out to steam vessels and trucks were in the picture for transportation.

The yard remained empty until 1941, when World War II came along with Cary Bok, Richard Lyman and Clinton Lunt at the helm. It did its part in the war effort building 30 vessels, including mine sweepers, troop transports, coal barges and rescue salvage tugs between 1941 and 1944.

Following that, Cary Bok and William E. Peterson ran a yard and built fishing vessels and pleasure yachts.

That yard built 32 vessels between 1946 and 1963, ranging in size from 18 to 71 feet in length. Building ceased and it has since been run by various owners for repairs, service and storage.

Fiberglass is in but there is nothing more beautiful than hand-crafted wooden vessels, built by master builders.

Barbara F. Dyer has lived in Camden all of her life, so far.

More Barbara Dyer

The Hub of Camden
— Socializing and such, before television

— The first years of the Camden Snow Bowl
— Snow Bowl

— Launching ‘Whimsey’

— The many moods of Camden Harbor

— Demise of the Camden steamboat wharf

— Curtis Island Lighthouse - the sentinel of Camden Harbor

— Camden Harbor: As old as the last glacier

— Mr. Camden Harbor

— Windjammer cruises in Camden

— Memorial Day remembrances

— Honoring our veterans every day