NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 10, 2011

Custom House showcasing ships

NEWBURYPORT — The workhorse of the early American economy, the merchant sailing ship, will be on display through Aug. 28 as the Custom House maritime Museum presents its ship model exhibition, Clipper & Merchants.

Merchant sailing ships reached their golden age during the mid-1800s when beautiful and graceful clipper ships sped passengers and cargos from East Coast cities to the California gold fields and in the China tea trade.

"We want to make people aware of the history of the golden years of sail when these magnificent ships set speed records between the East Coast and San Francisco," said Lloyd Sanborn, model ship exhibition chairman. "And one of the best-known builders of American Clippers was Donald McKay, a shipbuilder who started in Newburyport."

The 22 featured models representing a cross-section of merchant ships will give museum-goers an up-close view of these commerce workhorses that carried fish, lumber and rum from Newburyport and other Northeast ports to international locations. The voyages brought back molasses from the West Indies, wool, rice and cotton from the South and from Russia, and tea, porcelain goods and silks from China. This trade produced much of the taxable income that ran the government during this period.

Philip Fournier of Peabody, the shipwright whose model of the La Gallega will be on display, said that the 4 1/2-foot model was built totally from scratch over about two years. The La Gallega, officially a carrack, was used in trade between the low countries of Europe and Spain. This ship became better known as the Santa Maria after Queen Isabella of Spain recommissioned the ship for Columbus' voyage to the New World.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Special Features