Category Archives: Maritime Connecticut

Historic vessels on display at Mystic Seaport

Mayflower II

When the Mystic Seaport reopens Feb. 14, the Winter Vessel Tours will give visitors a unique look at the past. Guided tours will be available at a pair of ships undergoing restoration at the Seaport’s Henry B. DuPont Preservation shipyard, and the historic whaleship, Charles W. Morgan.

The latest to be restored are:

Mayflower II, the full-scale reproduction of the ship that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and the steamboat Sabino, a unique coal-fired vessel that regularly carries passengers on the Mystic River in the warm weather months. It is the last wooden, coal-fired steamboat remaining in operation.

The  Mayflower II arrived at the Seaport in December from Plimouth Plantation and, courtesy of Mystic Seaport, you can watch it rise out of the water and into the shipyard.

Also part of the tours will be the Charles W.Morgan, the world’s last surviving 19th century whaling ship that made some history of its own last summer when it sailed on an unprecedented voyage after extensive restoration to a number of New England ports.


Mystic Seaport

75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT 06355


 Did you know that Amelia Earhart had a Connecticut connection?




Six years before she disappeared while flying across the Pacific Ocean, Amelia Earhart was married to publisher George Putnam at the home of his mother in Noank, a seacoast village more known for shipbuilding than aviation in southeastern Connecticut.

Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, and the only person to fly across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, was one of our nation’s aviation pioneers, a thrill-seeking adventurer who disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe from the equator.

The Noank Historical Society has kept her memory alive with a plaque, noting her Connecticut connection. The Society also operates two museum sites that focuses on its ties to the sea, which were substantial, during the 19th century era of wooden shipbuilding.




Historic voyage of the Charles W. Morgan is underway

Morgan underway

The historic voyage of the Charles W. Morgan got underway at 6:30 a.m. Sunday June 15, 2014) from the old whaling port of New London.

Before becoming a popular exhibit on the Mystic Seaport’s waterfront in 1941, Morgan had a successful career on the world’s oceans, making 37 voyages over nearly eight decades, from 1841 to 1920.

In recent years, the world’s last wooden whale ship and the oldest U.S. commercial vessel afloat, has undergone an unprecedented restoration process at the Mystic Seaport in order to make this 38th voyage.

The Seaport has provided a way to chart her progress as she makes her way around some of New England’s old whaling ports.  Click here



Kathleen Moore: “A Coast Guard Heroine”

Cutter Kathleen Moore

Kathleen Moore, one of the more remarkable women in Connecticut history, has also been one of its least known figures, despite a heroic career as a lighthouse keeper that began at Black Rock Harbor Lighthouse near Bridgeport when she was 12. It continued until her retirement at 84 in 1878.

In between, she was credited with saving 21 lives, often braving the storm-tossed waters of Long Island Sound in a small craft at great peril to her own safety.

Her story is told at the United States Coast Guard Museum at the service’s academy in New London.  But now that story will be told in an entirely different way. The Coast Guard has named its newest ship The Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore. The 154-foot patrol craft was built by Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La., and is the ninth Fast Response Cutter delivered to the Coast Guard.

The shipyard that built the Kathleen Moore also provided recognition for this remarkable Connecticut woman in a different way. When she died in 1899 Moore was buried without a marker, but the people at Bollinger Shipyards bought an impressive stone that marks her burial site and notes her role as “A Coast Guard Heroine”.   A ceremony, complete with Coast Guard Color Guard, noted the recent occasion.

History in the Making This Summer Aboard the Charles W. Morgan

Morgan 38th outlineMAP


The Mystic Seaport has announced that 79 individuals from a variety of  backgrounds will be on board the Charles W. Morgan on different legs of her history-making voyage this summer.

The Seaport is calling them The Voyagers. They will be witnesses to history, recording and then sharing their experiences during this unprecedented voyage  when the world’s last remaining wooden whale ship and the oldest U.S. commercial sailing vessel afloat, sets sail nearly a century (93 years) after her whaling days ended.

In less than a month, May 17, Morgan will leave the Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport and head to New London where the final preparations will be made for the unprecedented 38th voyage.

See who was selected to ride the Morgan into history

Feel the Wind in Your Sails From Historic New London

Mystic Whaler

The Mystic Whaler provides Tall Ship Adventures to the public from the same historic waterfront in New London that once was the 19th century home of our country’s second largest whaling fleet.

The whalers are long gone, of course, and the port of New London is used by more modern means of waterborne conveyance, but the Mystic Whaler keeps alive the memory of that earlier era and offers the public a chance to experience the exhilaration of moving through the water under sail.

The Mystic Whaler launched its maritime career in 1967 as a reproduction of a late 19th century coastal cargo schooner, the workhorse of a class of vessels that helped fuel our nation’s economy in the days before railroads and superhighways. They were extensively used in New England, the Chesapeake and Great Lakes regions.

The meaning of the word “schooner” could stem from the Dutch, or an interpretation of scoon, a Scots word that roughly translates to “skipping along the water”.  It may, or may not, have been shouted out by someone at a 1700’s launching in Gloucester, Mass. As the story goes, the word was uttered in amazement within earshot of the shipyard owner who promptly dubbed the new class of vessels schooners. True?  Who knows, but it makes for good topic to debate over a pint of Grog after the last sail has been furled.

Whatever, the origins of the name, the craft that became known as schooners quickly came to serve a number of purposes, fishing, cargo-hauling and privateering and blockade running during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Today, like the Mystic Whaler, they are mostly used, to carry passengers on leisure cruises, and by groups dedicated to protecting our marine environment and as educational platforms, teaching young people about our state and nation’s proud maritime traditions.


Mystic Whaler  

35 Water St, New London, CT 06320
(860) 447-1249


New Haven Museum is about more than history


Eli Whitney and his cotton gin

The local history sections of libraries and museums don’t always carry an appeal beyond the confines of particular neighborhoods and a desire to see how ancestors may have lived. And the same could be said of museums that focus entirely on local history.

The New Haven Museum, however, transcends those  boundaries and chronicles the origins of this vibrant city that once served as the hub of a colony populated by English Puritans, starting in 1638.

There’s a focus on art, history and industry with inventors who stand among the most important in the United States. In short, the museum has an appeal broad enough to interest visitors who knew nothing of the city when they walked through the doors of the colonial revival building at 114 Whitney Avenue.

From the Amistad exhibit to an actual cotton gin made by Eli Whitney and maritime exhibits that chronicle this city’s ties to the sea, the museum has a little something for even the casual visitor. There’s also something on the families of both president Bushes.

For those looking for a more personal connection, the museum offers the Whitney Library that includes collections of 30,000 printed works, and its other collections. The library was founded in 1862.


New Haven Museum


114 Whitney Ave.

New Haven, CT 06510




Essex Steam Train and Riverboat in the Connecticut River Valley

Essex riverboat & Goodspeed

When it comes to enjoying a sightseeing trip in a spectacular natural setting, and doing it in an interesting and historic way, the Connecticut River Valley offers opportunities not to be found elsewhere. The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat provides not only a fascinating way to do this but it gives an experience not soon forgotten. Visitors using these historic modes of transportation have an opportunity to not only step back in time, but to ride there–on the rails and on the river.

Vintages coaches—restored 1920s Pullman Cars–hauled by an authentic steam locomotive from a bygone era take passengers from the historic 1892 Essex Station on tracks that were originally laid in 1871. The train takes guests through a number of classic New England towns as it makes its way through the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley, an area named “one of the last great places on earth” by the Nature Conservancy.”  And then there’s the riverboat Becky Thatcher, which train passengers can board at the Deep River Landing.

If that name sounds familiar it should. Mark Twain included her in his book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a classic he wrote while living in nearby Hartford.   The riverboat offers 1 ¼ hour tours on the Connecticut River, passing by breathtaking scenes of nature, including coves, marshes and then such historic sights as Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House.