Down by the sea

Barbara F. Dyer: The steamer M.& M.

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 1:45pm

In a recent article, “Importance of Advertising,” I mentioned the steamer that I had not before heard about, and maybe because it was in an article printed in 1899. The booklet was Camden by the Sea and Mountains by George W. Morris of Portland, Maine. The M. & M. steamer had a route between Camden and Bangor under the command of Captain W. D. Bennett.

Because I have a friend who read my article, now I know all about the steamer. According to the Rockland Courier Gazette dated December 29, 1855, it reads:

“Major Sanford Delano [who was my friend's great, great grandfather] has made a model and finished the molds of a steamboat which he will build the coming season. The steamboat will be 66 feet in length, 14 feet in breadth, 6 feet in depth. She was drafted by Major Delano. The engine is being built by Frank G. Wellington in Weymouth, Mass. The engine is one of the best now made. Mr. Wellington is an excellent workman, and any job of machinery contracted by him is sure to be of the highest order of mechanism.

“The boiler, shaft and propeller will be made in East Boston. The pumps will come from New York. The work on the boat will be done under the supervision of Major Delano, who has secured Alfred C. Strout for master builder. Most of the timber and plank have already been secured. Joseph B. Watts will finish the keel and the heavy timber.

“All material entering into the construction of the steamboat will be well selected, and substantially put together. Her machinery will be modern in all improvements and will weigh when completed about ten tons. The carpenter work will commence as soon as possible and the steamer will be ready for business sometime in May or June.

“She will make an excellent boat for excursions up and down the Georges River, or anywhere in this locality. In fact the owner will engage to take excursion parties or employ the steamer for towage of vessels on the Penobscot, Georges or Medomak rivers. Major Delano has given a great deal of time and attention to designing and constructing steamboats, and thoroughly understands the working of the machinery which propels them. His venture in building this steamboat, we predict, will be successful.”

The Major's dream came true as it was launched in 1886 at Thomaston (Registry # 91869).

In 1886, the 61-foot steamer M.&.M. ran between Boothbay Harbor and Wiscasset and also to Harmons Harbor, Georgetown. Being an inland passenger vessel, very little has come to light of her career, but she was a river steamer running from Rockland to Vinalhaven, Belfast and Searsport, as well as other towns. In later years, she was renamed Stockton.

There were stories that occurred occasionally about the vessel.

On February 26, 1898, the Camden Herald reported: “The little steamship M. & M., which runs between Camden and Buckspor,t, is doing a good business and has missed but two trips this winter and these were within the last two weeks.”

On February 10, 1899, the Camden Herald reported: “There was so much ice in the bay Wednesday that the M. & M. had considerable difficulty in making her trip. She was delayed nearly an hour in the ice about 3 miles this side of Belfast.”

And on February 17, 1899, the Camden Herald reported: “The M. & M. has been laid off the past week on account of a slight accident.”

However, it was stripped in 1905 at Rockland, Maine, and the engine was placed into the May Archer. It was sold to Capt. I. E. Archibald.

According to John Richardson in his book, Steamboat Lore of the Penobscot, the M. & M. was a principal figure in the bitter Penobscot River steamboat war and was extraordinarily successful. Capt. W. D. Bennett originally operated her and the chief engineer was Dan Kent.

They say Major Sanford Delano was a businessman in Thomaston, where he owned a saloon and a grocery store. His name was carried down through generations and my friend also has his name, but he regrets not owning a saloon and says a farm will do for now.

Found in the March 26, 1946, the Rockland Courier Gazette:

“IN THOMASTON STORE hung an amusing legend remembered by Attorney Albert T. Gould.

Boston March 18, 1946

I was amused at the legend you printed in "The Black Cat" about "no trust no bust." It reminded me of the sign Sanford Delano put up on the wall of his store at the foot of Knox Street in Thomaston to explain why he did business on a cash basis. He used block letters on a big piece of cardboard — some below, some above the line and some letters turned the wrong way; but no one could fail to make out what he meant. It read:

I had a friend and I did trust him,

I lost my friend and lost his custim.

To trust is well, to bust is hell.

No trust, no bust; no bust; no hell.

In god we trust - All others Cash”


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