In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Early Wharves and Yards - 1795 to 1825

Site of Vose's Wharf, Thomaston, Maine 2009
Site of Vose's Wharf, Thomaston, Maine 2009

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Philip Hanson arrived from Dover, NH around 1795, settling on Mill River as a tanner and shoemaker, then branching out into several businesses. He is one of Thomaston’s earliest shipbuilders, credited with building at least two ships. General Henry Knox built coasters as early as 1796, according to Eaton, but no records of vessels attributed to him appear until the 110-ton schooner “Montpelier” was launched in 1803. The following year he launched the schooner “Wessaweskeag”, the schooner “Quantabacook” and a brig of an unknown name. In 1805 he launched the 93-ton sloop “Quicklime.”

By the 1820s, waterfront-shipping activities had been relocated to the George's River from Mill Creek/River. Knox’s Wharf (successively known as Vose’s, Knox’s, Boynton’s, Foster’s, Green’s, O’Brien’s, and Dunn and Elliot’s Wharf) on Wadsworth Street had become the main wharf for mooring vessels in town. Currently, this is the site of the Lyman Morse Boatbuilding Co. wharf, east of the Wadsworth Street bridge. As with houses, names of wharves and shipyards continually changed with property ownership.

Map of Waterfront, Thomaston, Maine 1855
Map of Waterfront, Thomaston, Maine 1855

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

In 1823 Captain Richard Robinson acquired rights to the wharves and stores on the lower bank on Knox Street (Fort Wharf), where he established a shipyard. Montpelier still stood on the hill overlooking the shore, and the waterfront property provided valuable income through leasing before reluctantly being sold to shipyard owners. Sail making was also set up at this location by J. Colson. About the same time, John Elliot arrived from Wiscasset and, partnered with Benjamin Metcalf of Damariscotta. They established business as blockmakers and ship chandlers at Paine’s wharf, near the Narrows on the George's River, an area below the prison site. J. Palfrey, a rigger, also worked at Paine’s wharf.

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

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Early in the century, boat builders built coastal schooners and barges in Warren, north of Thomaston, for transport and trade. As lumber supplies there were depleted, several individuals relocated their shipyards downriver to Thomaston, which became the more active of the two ports.

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