Charles W. Morgan News News

Moving Day

Moving the MORGAN, June 24, 2013The Charles W. Morgan took an important step towards her launch today as she began her move to the Museum’s ship lift. Shipyard staff members pulled her about 40 feet sideways so her cradle was in line with the rails that will guide her out to the lift. The vessel had been moved to the side in late 2008 so that other vessels could be hauled while she was out of the water.

Beginning early this morning, shipyard staff cleaned the area around the rails and rigged a long chain and four chain falls to the side of the ship’s cradle. These were attached to four eyebolts bolted to the concrete on the far side of the tracks. When the start signal was given, staff members systematically cranked link-by-link to draw the ship onto the new track. The process took about two hours in very hot and humid conditions.

Now that she is in alignment with the lift track, each of the wheels supporting the cradle will be rotated 90 degrees do she can roll lengthwise.

The next major step will occur on Wednesday, June 26, when the ship is rolled approximately 200 feet out onto the ship lift. She will then be partially lowered into the water so her bottom planks will have the opportunity to soak up water and swell.

Unfortunately, visitors will not be able to board the ship for the next few days, but she will be open sometime on Thursday in her new location.

Moving Day Photo Gallery

Charles W. Morgan News News

Delivering a Whaleboat

Apprentices and staff rowing their Leonard whaleboat from Rockland, Maine to Mystic, CT. Photo: John Synder, Marine/Media and Sandee Havunen
Photo: John Snyder/MarineMedia

The Apprenticeshop, a school for traditional boatbuilding and seamanship in Rockland, Maine, has finished building one of the 10 replica whaleboats that the Charles W. Morgan will carry onboard during her 38th Voyage in 2014. Students at The Apprenticeshop celebrated their graduation from the two-year boatbuilding program on June 14 with the launching of the 29’ Leonard whaleboat.

On June 16, seven students and staff members embarked on a 350-mile rowing and sailing journey to deliver the boat to Mystic Seaport and to also honor the seafaring traditions of Maine. After stowing their full two-week’s gear in both the whaleboat and the accompanying chase boat Advent (a 36’ Bud McIntosh schooner), the open boat left the dock at Rockland with Captain Bryan McCarthy, Apprenticeshop director, at the helm. Apprentices Rachel Davis, Daniel Creisher, Simon Jack, Garrett Farchione, and Tim Jacobus were in the rowing stations. Apprenticeshop board member Pat Lydon joined the flotilla when they reached Port Clyde later that day.

The crew is posting photos, videos and daily updates of their journey on The Apprenticeshop’s Facebook page and blog and, as of the most recent post on June 20, they have already reached Kennebunkport, Maine. The whaleboat will arrive at Mystic Seaport in time for the 22nd Annual WoodenBoat Show (June 28-30) and will be displayed for Museum visitors. Five Beetle whaleboats also built for the Morgan project will join the Leonard on display. These boats are from the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia; New York City’s Rocking the Boat; Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway of Vineyard Haven, MA; Beetle Boat Shop of Wareham, MA; the New Bedford Whaling Museum; and the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville, MI.


New Mystic Seaport Website

We are pleased to announce the arrival of a new Mystic Seaport website. With help from all areas of the Museum, the site has fresh photos, an enhanced calendar of events, more news and My Trip–a personal organizer for planning your next visit. Here’s a quick tour:

  • New home page image gallery.
  • Extra-deep main menus, so you can explore the whole Museum just by pointing at them on any page.
  • Quick access to the information you need to plan your visit: Today’s Schedule and all the logistics–Directions, Hours and Admission.
  • My Trip, a personal visit planner. As you’re browsing the website, you can use the “Add to My Trip” buttons to save locations and events that you don’t want to miss. Come back to My Trip at any time to view, print or share your plan with others.
  • The events calendar. The news from Mystic Seaport. And, maritime history news from around the world.
  • Connect, a constantly updated view of Mystic Seaport on the web–in the news, on blogs, on Twitter and Facebook.

We hope you enjoy the new site, and we look forward to seeing you at the Museum.

Charles W. Morgan News News

Ric Burns to Speak at Launch

Ric Burns
Ric Burns

Ric Burns, the award-winning documentary filmmaker, will deliver the keynote address at the launch of the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport on July 21, 2013. The National Historic Landmark ship has been undergoing a comprehensive restoration since November, 2008. She will be launched and returned to the water in a public ceremony that begins at 2 p.m.

Burns is best known for his acclaimed series New York: A Documentary Film, a sweeping chronicle of the city’s history, which garnered several honors, including two Emmy Awards and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award. Burns’ career began with the celebrated series The Civil War, which he produced with his brother, Ken Burns, and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward. In 1991, Ric founded Steeplechase Films and has since written and directed a number of award-winning films for PBS, including Coney Island, The Donner Party, The Way West, Eugene O’Neill, and Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film. Burns most recently finished Death and the Civil War, a film based on the best-selling book This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by acclaimed historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust.  In 2010, Burns wrote, produced, and co-directed for American Experience a film about the history of the whaling industry, Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World.

Mystic Seaport President Steve White said, “We are honored to have Ric Burns serve as the keynote speaker at our launch ceremony. His extensive knowledge of American history and the role whaling plays in it will help us articulate the importance of the Charles W. Morgan in our nation’s maritime experience.

The Morgan is the oldest American commercial ship still in existence. The 113-foot vessel was built and launched in New Bedford in 1841 and had a whaling career that lasted 80 years and 37 voyages that spanned the far reaches of the globe. The ship came to Mystic Seaport in 1941. More than 20 million people have walked her decks since she arrived.

The launch is a key milestone in her restoration, which has been carried out at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at the Museum. Once back in the water, work will continue with the installation of her spars and rigging, additional interior carpentry, and preparation for her 38th Voyage to begin in May, 2014. The Voyage will take the ship back to sea on a tour to historic ports in New England, including New London, Newport, Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, Provincetown, and Boston. Each port visit will include an interactive dockside program designed to inspire excitement and interest in America’s maritime heritage.  The ship will also sail through the whale-watching grounds of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to recognize the changing relationship of mankind to the whale.

Charles W. Morgan News News

MORGAN Shed Removal

Have you visited the Shipyard to see the Charles W. Morgan lately? Now is a good time. Last month the plastic cover was removed from the scaffolding and now the majority of the shed has also been removed, providing optimal viewing of the whaleship before she returns to the water on July 21.

Though removing the plastic cover and shed took many hours, you can watch the process in a little over a minute thanks to the skill of our Film & Video Department. You’ll also see a majority of the Morgan‘s hull being painted, too. Enjoy!

Charles W. Morgan News News

The Shutter Plank

Final Spike
Shipyard staff member Sean Patrick Kelly drives the final golden spike on the shutter plank.

Shipwrights at Mystic Seaport installed the final plank on the hull of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan on Friday, May 10. Known as the shutter plank because it “shuts in” and completes the hull, the achievement is traditionally a moment of celebration in the shipbuilding process.

The 20-foot long plank of yellow pine was placed on the port side quarter of the hull near the waterline. It was steamed for several hours prior to installation to make it flexible, lifted into position, and spiked in place. Each member of the Shipyard crew working on the restoration signed the plank.

The last spike used to fasten the plank was gold-plated to mark the occasion. F. M. Callahan & Son of Malden, Mass. donated the plating. Company president Eric Jackin presented the 10-inch long fastener to the Museum in an informal ceremony Friday afternoon.

”This moment is a milestone in the continuing voyage of the Charles W. Morgan. The shutter plank is just one small part of the ship’s fabric, but it is emblematic of all the parts, and of all the people, that are coming together to take the ship back to sea for her 38th Voyage in 2014,” said Mystic Seaport President Steve White.

Visitors and Museum staff watch as the shutter plank is maneuvered into position.

The Morgan has been undergoing a comprehensive restoration in the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard since November 2008. The project addresses significant structural issues in the hull below the waterline and in the bow and stern. While the shutter plank marks the end of principle hull restoration, Museum shipwrights must finish caulking, fairing, and painting the hull prior to launch.

The ship is scheduled to be launched on Sunday, July 21 at 2 p.m. in a public ceremony in the Shipyard. Once back in the water, the Morgan will remain berthed at the Museum’s lift dock through the completion of the project. The shipwrights need to build and restore many peripheral details, build and restore spars, and restore and install the rig. With rare exception, the ship will remain accessible to visitors to board and explore.

Once the restoration is complete in late May 2014, the Morgan will embark on a ceremonial 38th Voyage to historic ports in New England to celebrate the importance of America’s maritime heritage. After a period of refitting and sea trials based in New London, Conn., the ship will sail to Newport, Vineyard Haven, New Bedford, Provincetown, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and Boston. She will also participate in the centennial celebration of the Cape Cod Canal.


Collections Research Center Solar Installation

Installation of the solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the Museum’s Collections Research Center. Photo taken February 2013.In November of 2011 Mystic Seaport entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Altus Power to construct a solar array on the roof of the Museum’s Collections Research Center building. Over the past 18 months Altus Power has been working to secure the approvals and permits necessary to construct the system. By December of last year all of the approvals were in place. Construction began in January 2013 and was completed in April 2013. The system was inspected and approved by Connecticut Light & Power and came online May 21, 2013.

The system consists of 963 solar panels connected by over 4 miles of wire. The system has a design capacity of 200 kilowatts. This equates to about 20% of the annual electrical demand of the Collections Research Center.

How it Works

Every minute, enough of the sun’s energy reaches the earth to meet the world’s energy demand for one year. Solar modules are comprised of a number of solar cells. Light is absorbed by the semi conductors located inside the solar cells and converted into electrical energy. This process generates direct current (DC) electricity which is routed to an inverter. The inverter converts the electricity generated by the solar modules into alternating current (AC). AC is the form of electricity used in lighting and heating and cooling systems.

In many instances the power generated by the system exceeds the building demand and the excess power is sold back to the power company. Since the electrical requirements of the Rossie Mill are so high, our generation capacity will never exceed our demand. Therefore all of the electricity we generate will be consumed on site.

We have installed a real time system monitor in the Treworgy Planetarium. Please feel free to stop in on your next visit to Mystic Seaport and witness the system at work.

News Press Releases

Civil War Reenactors to Set Up Camp

Visitors can Watch as they Conduct Drills, Demonstrate Artillery, and March in Parade

Mystic, Conn. (May 15, 2013) — Most people don’t know it, but a major part of the Civil War was fought along the East Coast, as the Union tried to blockade the South to cut off its trade with Europe. On June 1 and 2, you can see a reenactment of how those Union sailors lived and how they prepared for battle when you come to Mystic Seaport for a Civil War Naval Encampment – the first ever in Connecticut.

More than 150 uniformed reenactors from several states will set up camp on the Museum’s village green to carry out infantry drills, conduct artillery demonstrations, and march in a dress parade. Visitors can talk with them about life in the Union Navy 150 years ago.

“You’ve never seen anything like this,” said Matt Warshauer, professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and co-chair of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission. “This Mystic Seaport encampment is a one-of-a-kind event that will help everyone learn about the role of Union ships and Union sailors in winning the war by blockading the South and carrying out naval operations.”

During the encampment, visitors can see two Civil War vessels at Mystic Seaport: The Hunley, a replica of the Confederate submarine that was the first to sink another warship, and the Australia, believed to be the only surviving schooner of the type Confederates used to run those Union blockades.

At 1 p.m. on both days, visitors will see a Civil War homecoming, as reenactors disembark from the steamboat Sabino, the last wooden coal-fired steamboat still in operation in America. A welcoming crowd will greet the sailors at the pier, and they’ll proceed to the village green to hear speeches from reenactors portraying President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells, and Connecticut Governor William Buckingham.

“We all know about the great land battles of the Civil War, like Gettysburg and Antietam,” said Warshauer. “But not many people know how the Union Navy helped win the war. And there are some great stories to hear. For example, Warshauer said, in 1865, Admiral David Dixon Porter landed over 2,000 sailors and marines to storm the sea face of Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, N.C.

“Admiral Porter’s sailors were armed only with pistol and cutlass, and his naval force was outgunned and repulsed. But the attack succeeded because the rebel defenders thought the seaside landing was the main thrust, so they rushed to that side of the fort. They never saw the much larger Union army approaching down the peninsula until it was too late.”

“The Navy is often forgotten when it comes to Civil War history, despite the critical – if not decisive – role played by the fleet,” said Chuck Veit, president of the Navy & Marine Living History Association and a member of the U.S. Naval Landing Party. “The Mystic Seaport encampment is one of the nation’s very few living history events devoted to the Navy.”

The reenactors come from all over the East Coast, representing the U.S. Naval Landing Party, the Tidewater Maritime Living History Association, the USS Lehigh, the USS Port Royal Marine Guard, the 8th, 11th, and 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, and the Connecticut 2nd Heavy and Light artilleries.

Mystic Seaport has joined with the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission (CCWCC) to host this event. It’s the third major encampment held by the CCWCC. More than 5,000 people attended a similar event at New Britain’s Stanley Quarter Park in 2011, and 5,000 more attended another such event at Manchester’s Wickham Park in 2012.

The Civil War Naval Encampment is made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council and the generous support of Travelers Insurance.

The encampment will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Museum admission is required, although admission is good for both days with validation.

About the CCWCC

The CCWCC was created by Governor M. Jodi Rell in 2010 and directed to coordinate activities across Connecticut to commemorate the state’s involvement in the Civil War.  The Commission is co-chaired by Dr. Booker DeVaughn, president emeritus of Three Rivers Community College, and Dr. Matthew Warshauer, professor of history at Central Connecticut State University. Members of the Commission include history and humanities professionals from across the state.

About Connecticut Humanities

Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities that funds, creates and collaborates on hundreds of cultural programs across Connecticut each year. Connecticut Humanities brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to express, share and explore ideas in thoughtful and productive ways. From local discussion groups to major exhibitions on important historical events, CTH programs engage, enlighten and educate. Learn more by visiting www.cthumanities.org.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. The Museum is located one mile south of exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. Admission is $24 for adults and $15 for children 6-17. Museum members and children under 5 are admitted for free.

Charles W. Morgan News News

Premier Maritime Scholars Aid in the MORGAN Restoration Project

Mystic Seaport Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker (in yellow) discusses the Morgan project with scholars.
Mystic Seaport Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker (in yellow) discusses the Morgan project with scholars.

Fourteen of the nation’s leading maritime scholars, historians, and advisors visited Mystic Seaport January 12-13, 2012 to assist in development of exhibit and programming for the Charles W. Morgan and her groundbreaking 38th Voyage. Set for the summer of 2014, the much-anticipated voyage of the last wooden whaleship in the world will include visits at historic ports of call along the Northeastern Seaboard.

The two-day charrette was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Bridging Cultures Grant and was awarded to the Museum for its “In the Wake of the Whalers” program. Feedback from NEH reviewers has been quite positive for the program and its four key humanities themes: 1) The Cultural Crossroads of Globalization (cultural crosspollination), 2) Profit from the Deep (economic endeavors), 3) The American Sailor: Making an Icon (American identity), and 4) Thar She Blows: From Whale Hunt to Whale Watch (changing perceptions of the natural world).

Snediker and scholars visit the Morgan's hold.
Snediker and scholars visit the Morgan’s hold.

Visiting scholars worked with Museum staff in the development of the program’s sub-themes, confirming that they are consistent with the best recent scholarship in the fields of maritime history, literature, art, and history of science. Mystic Seaport plans to match each sub-theme to the best delivery system to maximize audience impact and understanding. Ultimately, the Museum will ensure that intellectual and research-grounded content is consistently strong across all formats and outcomes. Charrette results will move the Museum forward towards implementation of its final onsite, online, and onboard programming concepts.


Consulting scholars, historians, and advisors included:

  • Jeff Bolster, Associate Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire
  • D. Graham Burnett, Professor, History Department and Program in History of Science at Princeton University
  • Stuart Frank, Director Emeritus of the Kendall Institute and Senior Curator at New Bedford Whaling Museum
  • Lisa Norling, Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Minnesota
  • Joe Roman, Conservation Biologist
  • Helen Rozwadowski, Associate Professor of History and Maritime Studies Coordinator at the University of Connecticut
  • Tim Runyan, Special Project Assistant in the Maritime Heritage Program for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
  • Elizabeth Schultz, Professor Emerita in the Department of English at the University of Kansas
  • Nancy Shoemaker, Professor of History at the University of Connecticut
  • Julie Winch, Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Revell Carr, Assistant Professor at the School of Music, Theater and Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Karen Jamison Wizevich, Ph.D. in Architecture/Museum Studies from Victoria University, New Zealand
  • Jamie L. Jones; Professor of American Literature and Writing at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
  • Jason Mancini, Senior Researcher at Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.