2012-07-06 / Community

A Window on the Past

Explore South Portland’s shipbuilding history
By Kathryn DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


South Portland Historical Society is showing an exhibit on the shipbuilding history of the city. The museum is open every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Courtesy photo) South Portland Historical Society is showing an exhibit on the shipbuilding history of the city. The museum is open every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Courtesy photo) One of South Portland Historical Society’s featured exhibits covers our community’s long history in the shipbuilding business. The exhibit, “100 Years of Shipbuilding in South Portland: 1845 to 1945,” includes not only our more modern history of building Ocean and Liberty ships during World War II, but also the lesser known shipyards such as Cumberland Shipbuilding, which produced ships during World War I.

Not many people are aware that the Todd-Bath Iron Shipbuilding Corporation was located on the same site as that earlier yard. The Cumberland shipyard would launch ships from that eastern location and then tow the ships over to their outfitting pier in Ligonia for completion. The historical society’s museum has a terrific photograph on display that shows a Ferris ship pulled up to Cumberland Shipbuilding’s pier in Ligonia for outfitting.

The shipyard exhibit also covers South Portland’s earlier history as a fine producer of wooden sailing ships during the mid-1800s. Shipyards dotted our coastline from Turner’s Island to Ferry Village. Of course, one of the more famous ships was the clipper ship, Snow Squall, but we produced many other clippers, brigs, barks, schooners and other types of ships.

Shown here is an exciting exhibit piece – a half-hull model of the Pejepscot. The hull model was built by a company in Brunswick and then presented to the Dyers at Portland Shipbuilding in Ferry Village to be used to construct the wooden tugboat. The model was saved by the Dyer family through the years and donated to the South Portland Historical Society along with a photograph of the completed ship and other shipyard-related papers.

Our thanks to the 2012 sponsor of this shipyard exhibit, Bath Savings Institution, for helping to make this exhibit possible. The historical society’s museum is located at Bug Light Park and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with no admission charged, thanks in part to our generous exhibit sponsors and business members. For more information, call 767-7299 or visit http://www.sphistory.org/.

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