One Name, Two Ships, Three Stories

Posted on
Colored lithograph of Steamship Arago
Colored Lithograph of Steamship Arago. 1941.0492.000001. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Have you ever gotten the sense that something is following you around? Maybe there is a phrase, word, song, or something else that just keeps popping up in unexpected places, and you’re not sure why? That happened to me recently, and the product is this blog post!

It started with a research project. You see, I was recently reading through the final draft of a book that I edited with Dr. Jonathan White, entitled  My Work Among the Freedmen: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of Harriet M. Buss. For this book, I transcribed the correspondence of Harriet Buss, a teacher from Massachusetts who moved to South Carolina during the Civil War to teach freedpeople. Buss wrote to her parents regularly, and was detailed in her description of her travels. In traveling back and forth from New England to the coast of South Carolina throughout 1863, Buss frequently boarded the Steamer Arago, and several of her letters bear this heading! When I first transcribed these letters, I honestly didn’t think much about the fact that she was on the Steamer Arago, beyond the contextual research on the vessel. I found her descriptions interesting, and her tales of travel occasionally amusing. I also gagged a little when she described the “quart tin vomiting cup” that accompanied every berth on the ship. [1]   Read more

Are You Shore You Want To Do That?

Posted on
Diagram of Wetland Ecosystems. Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Have you ever taken a visit to Lions Bridge and wondered why there are “No Trespassing” signs stopping you from sun-bathing on that oh-so-tempting perfect little river beach? The short answer is to prevent shoreline erosion and protect wildlife. The long answer is below…

What is a wetland?

The Shoreline Area at Lions Bridge is a wetland, my favorite type of ecosystem. Wetlands are transitional ecosystems between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that flourish with life. Simply, a wetland is a habitat between a body of water and a piece of dry land. Each type of aquatic system correlates with a wetland system. For example, an estuarine wetland would be the transition between an estuary and land, while a riverine wetland corresponds to a wetland near a river. To qualify as a wetland, an area must meet certain criteria: presence of water at or near the surface, hydric soils, and vegetation adapted to wet conditions.    Read more

Tied up in rope conservation and more! 

Posted on
SEM at ARC William and Mary
Molly carefully inserting a wooden sample in the SEM chamber and the computer monitor displaying a previous sample image

I have been meaning to write a blog about progress on the Monitor ropes but, although archaeological objects conservators are currently focused on this part of the collection, we do all sorts of other things that I thought would also be interesting to share with you. 

If you have not done so yet, check out Laurie’s latest blogs about the gun sponge she has been treating lately. It looks so good!!    Read more

Scheduling Students, Lead Lines and Mark Twain

Posted on
The Mariners’ Museum and Park
In 1914, the crew of this lighthouse tender, Hyacinth, rescued a dog and named him Sport. Sport is the star of the book Sport, Ship Dog of the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park. SMS0091/03.01-74#150 

I am the Student Program Coordinator on the Education Team at The Mariners’ Museum and Park. As you can imagine, a big part of my job is scheduling our educational programs for students. The great thing for me is I also often have the privilege of corresponding with people who are seeking information or asking questions. Thankfully, I don’t have to answer everything myself. I have the constant support of the rest of our Mariners’ family. Let me give you an example by taking you on a journey with me.

Several months ago I was contacted by Pam Cameron. Mrs. Cameron was doing research about lead lines for a project she was working on. I will tell you more about lead lines in a moment, but first I have to share something else. In the course of our conversations, Mrs. Cameron shared that she was the author of Sport: Ship Dog of the Great Lakes. This is a book that takes place on the lighthouse tender Hyacinth pictured below. In 1914, the crew of Hyacinth rescued a stray puppy that they named Sport.   Read more

William Robert Wolf and USS Cyclops

Posted on
USS Cyclops collier. PN983. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

What was USS Cyclops and what happened to it?

One of America’s greatest mysteries is the disappearance of US navy collier Cyclops. The ship was taken over by the Naval Overseas Transportation Services on January 9, 1918 and directed to head to Rio de Janeiro from Norfolk with 9,960 tons of coal. Then, the vessel departed from Rio de Janeiro on Feb 15, 1918 with 10,800 long tons, or 11,000 tons, of manganese ore before entering Bahia on February 20, 1918. Only a few days later, on February 22, 1918, Cyclops steamed for Baltimore, Maryland with no stops planned. However, it later deviated to Barbados, arriving on March 3rd. Finally, Cyclops left Barbados on March 4, 1918 with its starboard engine inoperative due to a cracked cylinder.  The vessel was never seen again.   Read more