Betty Schopmeyer, Education Director, Penobscot Marine Museum
The beautiful Penobscot Bay town of Searsport boasts many old homes dating from the great seafaring era. Here one can find the Penobscot Marine Museum. Its principal exhibits illuminate the industry of Penobscot Bay in the 19th century and illustrate life on one of the great square-rigged ships, and what it was like to visit China when it truly was exotic.
The Asian artifacts in Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection were donated by ship captains who brought back souvenirs and items to furnish their own homes. Betty Schopmeyer, Education Coordinator, has furnished the following information to provide a small sense of what this museum offers.
For hundreds of years, Maine has built fine ships and produced extraordinary mariners. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Maine vessels and captains participated in the trade with China, peaking after the Civil War. Maine was involved in the China Trade predominantly through shipbuilding and supply of master mariners. Mainers sometimes bought shares in ships owned predominantly by Boston and other outside merchants. Only a few Mainers, such as Portland ship builders Preble and Jewett, and Theodore Lyman of York owned their own ships in the China Trade:. Few, if any, Maine products were exported to the Far East. One exception was ice from the Kennebec River, which was carried to Calcutta, Bombay, and Batavia. More