Museum program focuses on the Montana

Courtesy photoThe ship Montana was built in Newburyport in 1865, the 76th vessel constructed by John Currier Jr. 

NEWBURYPORT – Clarisse Poirier will present “Fire and Ice: The Last Voyage of the Ship Montana” at the Museum of Old Newbury on Tuesday.

This presentation, told from the perspective of the ship itself, chronicles a fateful night for a Newburyport vessel thousands of miles from home.

The Montana was built in Newburyport in 1865, the 76th vessel constructed by John Currier Jr. It was a big, fast, beautiful ship that safely carried cargoes and crews to destinations in the Americas, Europe and Asia over the next six years.

In early 1872, in the midst of the Indian Ocean and some 1,000 miles from land, a fire was detected in the Montana’s cargo hold. That cargo consisted of more than 1,000 tons of ice loaded in Boston and destined for Hong Kong. The ship’s crew needed to race against time and the elements to survive.

Poirier has a doctorate from Boston University and is a professor emeritus of history at Merrimack College. As an industrial and labor historian, she has published articles on the collapse of the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence in 1860 and the local leaders of the Lawrence strike of 1912 (“The Committee of Ten: The Local Heroes Who Faced Lawrence’s Mill Men and Won in 1912”).

Poirier volunteers at the Museum of Old Newbury, the Archival Center of Newburyport Public Library and the Custom House Maritime Museum.

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. with a reception preceding at 6:30 at the museum, 98 High St.

Space is limited and reservations are required; contact 978-462-2681 or The museum’s program series is sponsored in part by the Institution for Savings.