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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Early Shipbuilders - 1780s

Map of the Georges River, Thomaston, Maine 2009
Map of the Georges River, Thomaston, Maine 2009

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

By the time Thomaston was incorporated in 1777, several enterprising men had started businesses in the “Crick Village” section, a cluster of buildings centered on Mill Creek, where it passes under the County Road (now Route One.) A town landing was established on Mill Creek in the vicinity of the Gleason and Fish Street intersection. Lime kilns were built below the bridge on both sides of the Creek in close proximity to the first shipyards in the area. Vessels were needed for both importing and exporting goods.

John Bailey to Edward E. O'Brien, Thomaston, 1861
John Bailey to Edward E. O'Brien, Thomaston, 1861

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Both Mill Creek and the Georges River were ideally suited for shipbuilding. Gentle slopes led down to the deep and sheltered channels on tidal waterways. Timbers could be laid down on the shores for ships and then easily launched upon completion.

The first records of ships being built are in 1787 when Elias Snow, probably of St. George, built a vessel for which there is no name recorded. Eaton, an early town historian, reports the first vessel launched in old Thomaston was in 1787 on the Wessaweskeag, in what is now South Thomaston. Several more ships were built by individuals in South Thomaston and Rockland, which were then part of Thomaston. At first, raw materials were plentiful. Once nearby forests were depleted, local shipyard owners purchased rights to great tracts of land for hardwood supplies in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. Workmen with knowledge of ship measurement requirements would harvest lumber and oversee its transport back to Thomaston. Whole frames would be cut according to requirements and then shipped north for construction and assemblage on the shores along Water Street.

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