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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

The "Edward O'Brien", the "Washington B. Thomas", & "Edna Hoyt"

The “Edward O’Brien” made quite a spectacle at the time of her launching from the Burgess O’Brien yard. Enormous crowds gathered to witness the launch of the 275’ ship. The vessel headed to the river prematurely and, dragging a 4200-pound anchor through the hillside above her, cut a furrow five feet deep, tearing down many small trees.

Captain's Cabin,
Captain's Cabin, "Washington B. Thomas," Thomaston, ca. 1903

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

The size of the vessels being built gradually increased until 1903, when Washburn Brothers launched the “Washington B. Thomas,” a 5-master of 2639 tons, the largest craft of any type ever built on the St. George River. Her career was cut short by a shipwreck off Prout’s Neck only 60 days after her impressive launch. Captain William Lermond’s second wife, Hattie Winchenbach, lost her life in the shipwreck.

Schooner <em>Edna Hoyt</em>, Thomaston, circa 1920
Schooner Edna Hoyt, Thomaston, circa 1920

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

The last large schooner built in Thomaston was the 5-masted “Edna Hoyt,” built in 1920 at a cost of $280,000 by Dunn and Elliot Company. She was the last of her class ever to slide down the ways. While in NY Harbor, the 284’ long Hoyt was reported to be so mobbed by enthusiastic visitors that they broke down her gangplank. Kermit Roosevelt, son of Theodore Roosevelt, was among her 50,000 visitors during that one week.

Schooner Edna Hoyt, Thomaston, ca. 1921
Schooner Edna Hoyt, Thomaston, ca. 1921

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

The “Hoyt” in her 17 years of voyages had carried everything from fertilizer to molasses all over the world. In Aug 1937 she loaded 1,500,000’ of lumber at Halifax and sailed for Belfast, Ireland. From there she moved on to Cardiff, Wales, to load coal for Venezuela, but just after leaving Wales she encountered rough seas and storms.

She was forced to put into Lisbon since she was leaking badly, and an examination of her seams showed that it would not be advisable to repair her. Her captain was forced to sell his ship and return home, thus ending the saga of Thomaston’s famed wooden ships.

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