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Explorers Club: 1909

Explorers Club: 1909

New York, September 4, 1909. "Crew of Peary arctic ship Roosevelt: First Mate Thomas Gushue (far left), Chief Engineer George A. Wardwell and the men." The Roosevelt sailed in the Hudson-Fulton celebration shortly after this portrait was made. 8x10 glass negative, Bain News Service. View full size.


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Back In The Day

Every new Navy recruit always hears sea stories from the old salts.

One favorite start to a sea tale is the phrase "Back when the ships were made of wood and the men were made of iron" and these men seem to exemplify those men of iron.

Long-lost Cousin!

Arctic explorer Admiral Robert Edwin Peary, Sr. (6 May 1856 – 20 February 1920) designed this vessel, the S.S. Roosevelt, to withstand the extreme conditions of the Arctic. Built with funds raised privately by the Peary Arctic Club, construction of the S.S. Roosevelt began at a small shipyard on Verona Island, Maine, on October 15, 1904.

She was launched on March 23, 1905.

Built using Maine lumber, the S.S. Roosevelt carried Peary and this crew on their successful 1909 expedition to the North Pole.

My fourth cousin twice removed, Chief Engineer George Arthur Wardwell was born near that Verona shipyard in Bucksport, Maine, on 15 February 1861, and married Carrie E. Baker in Orrington, Maine on 18 Nov 1886. In 1920 their son Maynard Baker Wardwell (born 26 July 1899) was living with them in Duluth, Minnesota, working as a laborer in a shipyard where George was working as an engineer.

George A. Wardwell died in his hometown on 3 July 1927 after a long career as a maritime engineer, and he was interred in a small rural cemetery in Bucksport. The photograph below depicts his monument; with him are his wife and parents.

The era of wooden sailing ships was rapidly drawing to a close, and after George's death, his son Maynard became a telephone lineman.

They could use it

Somebody pass the Cornhuskers Lotion quick!


Same gang?

Uniform Grime

All are equally dirty. Not a clean shirt or pair of pants anywhere. Is this one day's grime, a week's, a month's? Even the creases seem permanent.

Monster mitts

Look at the hands on that first mate. One hand could easily palm a basketball.

The Ship's Cobbler

must be on shore leave.

Met Life

The nearly-completed Metropolitan Life Insurance Building appears to be in the background just to the left of the air intake (it was completed in 1909).

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