Wyoming Seafaring Days

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A ship for Wyoming . . . .

Maine is a long journey from Wyoming.  One does not expect to visit there and find much to remind you of home.  Imagine our surprise when we came upon this model of a schooner named Wyoming at the Maine Maritime Museum.  She was launched December 15, 1909 from the Percy & Small shipyard in Bath and was built for the coastal coal trade.  She could carry 6,000 long tons of coal with a crew of 12-14 and was the largest wooden sailing vessel built in the United States at the time of her launch. The scale of the model is 1/8 inch = 1 foot.

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Maine was the ship-building capital of the United States . . . .

The above poster details  the mast design and lists some interesting facts: 1) launched after 8 1/2 months of construction; 2) contains 700 tons of white oak used in building her frame; 3) 2,300 tons of longleaf yellow pine used in planking, ceiling, clamps, waterways, keelsons, stanchions and deck beams; 4)  300 tons of iron and steel used in fittings, fastenings, and strapping; 5) lower masts were 123-foot sticks, 30 to 32 inches in diameter, of Douglas fir (Oregon pine); 6) 12,000 yards of heavy cotton canvas were used to make her sails; and 7) Wyoming was the largest wooden sailing vessel built in the United States, and the last 6-mast schooner built.

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Reconstructed Deck and Inboard Profile Plan . . . .

The Wyoming dimensions were 329.5 feet in length; 50.1 feet breadth, and 30.4 feet depth of hold.  Height, from bottom of keel to top of topmast, 177 feet.  Original cost was $164,800 and she set sail on her first voyage December 21, 1909.  From 1909 to 1916, the schooner made 83 trips north with coal–30 to Portland, 53 to Boston, averaging 32 days per round trip, including loading and unloading.  In 1916 Percy & Small sold Wyoming to the France & Canada Steamship Co. for a reputed $350,000, nearly twice her construction cost (because World War I was going on).  Wyoming made at least one trip to Europe during the war.  In 1921 the schooner was purchased by A. W. Frost & Co. of Portland, ME.


Launching Day: Wyoming . . . .

Under the vessel and on top of the groundways greased with tallow and cottonseed, carpenters installed “sliding ways” of timber. The cradle and hull of the ship were packed and fitted snugly into the sliding ways and the schooner now sat on a big sled perched on inclined greased tracks.  The Wyoming  would be gradually eased down the ways into the Kennebec River, which was no easy feat and required precision and coordination of a large crew of men.


Wyoming’s Lena Brooks . . . .

Lena Brooks, ” . . . dressed in a very stylish green rajah suit . . . ” pronounced the traditional blessing.  “I christen thee WYOMING,” and scattered a bouquet of flowers and ferns over the bow.  And who was Lena Brooks?  She was the third daughter of Governor and Mrs. Bryant B. Brooks of Wyoming and was attending Dana Hall, an eastern finishing school at the time.  She was granted the privilege of christening the Wyoming  because her father was governor of Wyoming from 1905 to 1911.  Governor Brooks wrote in his autobiography how ” . . . Wyoming and Maine joined hands in sending overboard the finest craft of her class that the world had yet seen. . . .”  The Percy and Small ship-building company had been very successful in developing interest and Western capital for Eastern shipping!

Governor Brooks and a group of investors acquired interest in some of the older vessels of this same company and then signed a contract for the building of the Governor Brooks, in 1907.  It was a successful venture and his initial investment was paid back in full in dividends by July 11, 1916.  Governor Brooks wrote that ” . . . during the world war our company sold the entire fleet of sixteen vessels, of which I had an interest only in four or five, to some government for colliers.  On September 12, 1917 I received payment for my interest in the schooner, Governor Brooks, sold through the Percy and Small Company, Inc. , ship brokers of 52 Front Street, Bath, Maine. . . .”

The Wyoming, which had been launched in 1909, also paid good dividends and was disposed of with the fleet in 1917, returning Governor Brook’s capital investment.  He wrote that “seven years later, the Wyoming went down off Chatham, Massachusetts, in a terrible storm.  That very night my wife and I were on the stormy seas between Halifax and New York harbor returning from a trip to Europe.  The next morning we were greeted in New York by glaring headlines across the papers, about the tragedy of the Wyoming.”  The entire crew was lost March 11-12, 1924 near Pollock Rip between Cape Cod and Nantucket Island.


The essence of the Wyoming . . . .

Perched on the grounds of the Percy and Small Shipbuilding Company, which is now part of the Maine Maritime Museum, sits this life-size sculpture of the Wyoming.  It was dedicated on the 100th anniversary of the Wyoming’s launch in 1909.

Governor Brooks, in his autobiography, wrote that ” . . . .Captain Charles Glaesel of Boston, who commanded the vessel, had a crew of twelve, and was bound from Norfolk to St. John, New Brunswick, with five thousand tons of coal.  No survivor was ever found to tell the story of her disaster.”IMG_1115 (4)

Imagine my surprise (and good fortune) when I learned that my cousin was looking for a project and agreed to take on the Wyoming. Starting from some of the drawings I sent him, and working with all his original materials, he re-created the Wyoming and drove from Oklahoma in early June to deliver her. I don’t know how I will ever repay him for such a gift!

Tilly Goes To School


“So, what’s up?” . . . .

The Ides of March

Monday, March 13, 2017 was a noteworthy day.  Call it bad luck, bad Karma, bad timing or just plain bad news.  The minute the stock trailer rolled into the barnyard, Tilly started having fits.  She knew it wasn’t her trailer and I guess she smelled a rat.


Nothing to get excited about, Tilly . . . .

The following photographs of Tilly capture her typical fit.  The actual events of March 13 could not be photographed because all hands were on the end of a rope.  This is how things went.


“I’m going to act up a bit here” . . . .

At four years old, Tilly is ready for the next step in her development–saddle training by a pro who can get her attention.  She has been a fine filly since we got her at six months as a weanling, giving us fits at times but basically being cooperative and showing real signs of intelligence.  I had her in a daily routine of desensitizing tactics, lunge exercises, and a pretty thorough grooming ritual.


“I hope they’re watching me” . . . .

We had previously worked with Tilly tying her to a patience pole, saddling her with a bareback pad and then a real saddle.  She was reasonably calm.  She crow-hopped a couple of times with the saddle, but settled down to her lunge routine.  Being very head strong and sensitive about her mouth, she gave us resistance to a snaffle bit.  We succeeded in getting it on her but not without a fight.  I attribute some of this resistance to several nasty procedures she has undergone to clear up infection in her throat and gutteral pouches, as well as treating an eye for a corneal tear from a weed stem that poked through her face mask.  Ah, horses can be a wonder!


“I’m really getting wound up” . . . .

But I digress.  Back to March 13th, an unlucky day if you see it from Tilly’s perspective. Not only did she start to act up in the corral, she carried on her tantrum and resisted getting into the stock trailer.  Ord and Michael had to push her from behind with a large cotton rope (this was not our first rodeo) while I hung onto her lead rope and tried to steer her into the trailer.  Finally she knew she had to do it and jumped in.  I fastened her lead to the ring at the end of the trailer and closed the inner gate on her.  We loaded several bales of hay, closed the end gate and she was ready to ride, wide-eyed with fear.



“I think I’ll have a bite of this straw” . . . .

I miss her terribly and spend time looking at all the photographs we have captured of her since she was a weanling.  This is one of my favorites which I used on our Christmas card.  She is wearing a personalized halter which was a gift from Kristin and Chris.


“Can’t scare me!” . . . .

We borrowed a youth saddle to place on her first, since it would not be so heavy and cause her much alarm.  Her expression says it all.


“I’ll get rid of this thing” . . . .

She is trying to dislocate her snaffle bit, which she found quite annoying.  Boy is she in for some surprises!


“I’m just a little girl” . . . .

My first sight of Tilly, after waiting eleven months for her birth on Mother’s Day, 2012.   We engaged a mare that belonged to my niece Sue, selected a sire after a few months of research and we were on our way.


Tia and her baby . . . .

Tilly’s sire is a handsome black and white tobiano paint, Sugs Tru Luck, and we hoped she would have his coloration.  When breeding for color, anything goes.  Tilly’s dam is a registered paint breeding mare, although she is predominantly sorrel.  Tilly seems to have taken on the colors of JB Classic, her grandfather who was a sorrel overo.  Tilly is registered as a bay tobiano/overo.  She has blue eyes.

Meanwhile, back at the barn


Tilly’s new yoga mat . . . .

In Tilly’s absence we laid a wooden plank floor in her stall and covered it with heavy rubber stall mats.  The ancient barn where she lives had a dirt floor and she had dug a hole in her favorite corner that went down to hard-pan clay and was a mess to clean up.


Oscar does a test drive . . . .

The mats will cushion Tilly’s legs and feet while she is indoors.  They are also easy to sweep clean and remove the wood chips that go down each day for her bedding.  We did some additional strengthening of the walls, patched a leak in the roof, and we are ready for Tilly when she comes home.  In the meantime, I have to wait for Ord to call me and tell me 1) he needs more hay; 2) she is ready for visitors; or 3) she is ready to come home. He made it perfectly clear HE WOULD CALL ME.  I got the message.