The Connecticut rivers that open on to Long Island Sound were once home to many ports and shipyards. In the east of the state is the Mystic River, derived from the Pequot Indian term "missi-tuk", describing a large river whose waters are driven into waves by tides or wind. Settlement of the area began in 1654 and within a few years the towns of Groton and Stonington had sprung up on opposite sides of the river. Numerous shipyards were set up along the river and gradually the area became known as Mystic. In 1929, three Mystic residents founded the Marine Historical Association to preserve examples of New England's maritime heritage. The Association acquired its first historic vessel in 1931 and set up a museum on the site of a former shipyard. In 1978 the museum was renamed Mystic Seaport .
Lighthouses were essential to warn ships away from hazards and to guide them into ports. The lighthouse at Mystic Seaport is a copy of the Brant Point Lighthouse from Nantucket.
Geo H Stone Store & Sailor’s Reading Room
The Geo H Stone store in the centre of the picture was built in 1850 as a house in Pawcatuck, Connecticut. When reconstructed at the museum it was set up as a store, displaying as stock historic items donated by George H. Stone, a retired merchant from North Stonington. The yellow building on the right is the Sailor’s Reading Room.
'Roann' under restoration, Henry B duPont Preservation Shipyard
The tradition of shipbuilding at Mystic is continued in the Henry B duPont Preservation Shipyard where historic vessels are restored back to a seaworthy state. During our visit in June 2007 we observed work on the Eastern-Rig Dragger ‘Roann’ which was built in 1947. When complete only about 25% of ‘Roann’ will be original, but the new parts will have been produced by traditional methods to match the original parts.
Whaler 'Charles W Morgan' & 19th Century Village
Mystic Seaport calls itself The Museum of America and the Sea as it is much more than a collection of historic ships. It has historic buildings that were moved to the museum from across New England including many specialist buildings from ports and shipyards. This picture shows the waterfront with on the left the three masted ship the ‘Charles W Morgan’. She was built in 1841 at New Bedford, Massachusetts and worked as a whaler until 1921. On the right the buildings of the 19th century village face the water.
Back in the 19th Century ships had a huge array of rigging, the ropes used to support the masts and raise the sails. Complex pieces of rigging were produced in a rigging loft from plans of the ship before they were installed on the ship.
Bedroom, Buckingham-Hall House
This coastal farmhouse was originally located at Saybrook, Connecticut, near the mouth of the Connecticut River. In 1951 it was in the path of a new bridge crossing the Connecticut River, so it was moved by barge to Mystic Seaport. This picture shows one of the bedrooms, furnished as it might have been in the early 19th century.
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