Prior to the advent of railroads and highways, the ocean was the only viable transportation system for moving cargo long distances. By the mid-1800s, Maine’s booming shipbuilding industry played a major role in international commerce and strengthened the state’s economy..
In Kennebunk, the shipbuilding industry had a significant impact on the community. Many occupations revolved around the sea: some built ships and loaded them; some sailed to domestic and foreign destinations. Even if a family did not work at a shipyard, they were intrinsically linked to the shipbuilding economy. For instance, coopers made barrels for carrying trade products, and farmers supplied food, ice and hay that were shipped all over the world.
The building of every vessel represented the start of a bold new venture for her builders, owners, master and crew. Each vessel represented a sizeable investment and the chance for a fortune to be made or lost.
Aweigh We Go: Sailing Ships of the Kennebunks takes a look at just a few of their stories.