Connect with Connecticut’s seafaring past by taking a trip down to the glorious Mystic Seaport. The sea-line along the coast of New England used to be the dwelling for numerous whaling fleets, and many were constructed along these coastlines.
Mystic, CT has its share of ship yards, and with the seaport village it is a legitimate and true representation of life in a New England maritime town. Mystic River and the Mystic Seaport are but a short distance from the historic downtown area, and it is open year-round.
When you take a trip to Mystic Seaport The Museum of America and the Sea should be one of your first destinations, it is a captivating odyssey into nineteenth century maritime life. There are 3 central exhibits at Mystic Seaport that should be on your schedule 1) the historic ships, 2) the preservation shipyard, and 3) the authentic seaport village and exhibits.
Here are but a few places of interest at Mystic, Seaport:
The Jewels at the Sea
Tall historic ships have always fascinated people, and the Mystic Seaport has an incredible assortment within their dock area exhibition. Travelers will be drawn to these majestic vessels, and one of the most crowd pleasing exhibits to visit is the Charles W. Morgan, known as the last wooden ship in the world, and the last one in the American whaling fleet – any traveler will feel as if they are living in a part of history when they visit this wonderful example of a wooden whaling ship.
I took a tour of this great vessel. If you are tall, you may have to watch your head. It can get a little tight inside the quarters of the Charles W. Morgan, but it is a wonderful experience to be had. People in the past traveled in small spaces and on long journeys. It makes you appreciate what you have today.
The Charles W. Morgan has made 38 voyages since its launch in 1841. Its 38th voyage will took place in the Summer of 2014. 79 individuals from various backgrounds had set sail aboard the Morgan, and it was the first voyage for the Morgan in 80 years. After the voyage, the voyagers were able to document their experience- published in various exhibits and publications.
Tall ships are a main part of the Mystic Seaport experience. The assortment of historic ships includes the L.A.Dunton and the Joseph Conrad. All ships are beautifully restored along with a great historic legacy. Mystic Seaport also includes the attractions, the Sabino Steamboat (1908) and Emma C. Berry (Noank Smack).
The Emma C. Berry was built in June 1866 and since its inception, it has encountered a shift in its duties as a fishing vessel and a coastal freighter. The Sabino Steamboat is ready for any tourist to sit, relax, and enjoy the view; the Sabino still operates as a working exhibit, and this historic vessel travels along the Mystic River. Allow for enough time to explore all these ships as they continue to be the best part of the Mystic Seaport experience.
The Preservation Shipyard
The Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard is where the craft of shipbuilding still exists, which helps to preserve the historic glory of all the ships. Sadly these skills are becoming a lost art form; our modern times make the need for them almost obsolete. However, at Mystic Seaport the great art of wood ship building and preservation are still practiced.
In the Preservation Shipyard any traveler can witness the tools that make these workmen good at their jobs; such as exploring a loft where rigging is prepared for the ships, a paint shop, and shops where the carpenters do wielding, machining, and casting of the metal necessary for the ships. There is a shed for the lumber, an old-time saw mill, and the documentation shop.
The documentation shop holds important documents employed by Mystic Seaport’s craftsmen to sustain the accurate information necessary to continue their work in order to preserve the ships. Near the Preservation Shipyard there is a shipbuilding presentation- you can go see the keel of the whale ship Thames, and also witness an exposé of the various stages of shipbuilding.
19th Century Village and Exhibits
A short walk from the ships is the village exhibits and galleries. Carefully recreated, the village is made up of various historic buildings transferred from other areas within New England. Stroll along the village and enjoy the trade shops, get a history lesson from the well informed staff.
Then take a ride in a horse drawn carriage, and learn how the maritime life has shaped the modern world. I took a tour of various houses. It really is a trip back in time. Certain places are guarded off, but there is still plenty to see and experience.
Walk around the village and enjoy over 40 wonderful exhibits. Two exhibits that travelers must-see are the Mystic River Scale Model, a model of what Mystic looked like in 1870, and the James D. Driggs Shipsmith Shop. Also, while you are there don’t forget to go to both the Voyages: Stories of America and the Sea and the Figureheads and Ship Carvings exhibits.
The Voyages: Stories of America and the Sea exhibit commemorates the history of the U.S.A and the sea, and how it continues to have an effect on our lives today. Right across the way is the Figurehead and Ship Carvings exhibit which has a fantastic assemblage of ship carvings. Regrettably, these figurehead displays are bittersweet. Ships today don’t have much use for figureheads which are now becoming an endangered art form.
Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT celebrates the historic seafaring past of New England. Traveling to Mystic Seaport will be one of the most marvelous trips of your life, it’s a great way to experience and celebrate New England’s contribution to American history.