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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Baltimore Luggers: 1905

Baltimore Luggers: 1905

Baltimore circa 1905. "Oyster luggers at the docks." Panorama made from two 8x10 inch glass negatives. Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.

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Re: Where's that wharf?

Poking around a bit, I found a reference to the Fountain Hotel (of that era) being located at Pratt and Calvert streets. That would place the location at the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore.

Wharf Location

Marchbanks, I believe this would have been along Pratt Street; west is to the left.

Same view from another pier/wharf - look at background.

Where's that wharf?

Polk's city directory for 1893 and 1895 locate F. Border's Son (oyster packers, selling under the Blue Moon brand) as being at 331 McGillivrey's Wharf, but modern maps of the harbor fail to show a wharf by that name. Does anyone have a notion where in the harbor this would have been?

Schooner vs. Ketch vs. Yawl

In Germany the ting ist simple:
If the rear mast ist higher than the first or same high, the ship is a schooner. Therefore ist the rear mast the main mast and the foreward the foremast.
If the first mast is bigger, it is a Ketch. The first one is the main mast and the second the besan mast. And now, to make the confusion complete:
It the besan stands behind the rudder (= outside the construction waterline and mostly behind the steering position) the thing is called a Yawl.
So lets have a look - the first one behind the lannan is a Schooner - definitivly. The second one seems to be a Ketch, the "annapolis and the Vessel behind her are Schooners too. The ships on the right of the "Annapolis" could be discussed - you can not see exactly the mast height in the picture, and the tree at the rear beam is cut off from the edge of the picture, and therefore the length is not recognizable.
In order to set top sails on a gaffel-rigged mast, a top steege (=top mast) is required. These have very few ships on the picture. However, there are also constructions in which these steeges (for example, in order to pass under bridges) could be dismantled.
What I'm wondering is the steam ship in front or the seed store. Must have been quite a puzzle, the thing to get there - and ran out certainly not "times just fast". Or stood the building on the left on a isle/ponton oer something else and ther was a way ount forward?

Nautically speaking

Skipjacks are the single masted vessels used till recently to dredge for oysters. However, in the photo we see that many of the vessels are two masted. As one of the other comments say, the ones that are steeply raked belong to the bugeyes, the vessels whose bottoms were made of multiple logs joined together cleverly to be watertight (similar techniques to today's racing log canoes). They are described in M.V. Brewington's "Chesapeake Bay: A Pictorial Maritime History". Only a couple of captions in that book show that before 1900 it was not rare for bugeyes to be "Square rigged" (gaff rigged) and therefore, yes, they could have gaff topsails. Most bugeyes were technically, from a modern point of view, ketch rigged -- the aft mast was smaller than the forward one -- and also usually had triangular sails, "leg-of-mutton" rather than Marconi because of no spreaders and lower aspect ratio, but this was during the 20th century. I think I can identify both ketch rigged and schooner rigged bugeyes in the photo.

It's amusing that the confusion between the two rigs lives on in the log canoes. When I raced one in the 1980's I discovered that the larger, forward mast is the foremast and the aft mast the mainmast -- schooner terminology, even though the boat I raced was rigged as a ketch.

The schooner-rigged vessels with more conservative rake to their masts (and more substantial hulls) are pungy schooners, used for cargo carrying. They too would have a main gaff topsail. A replica exists today (Lady Maryland I think) based in Baltimore.

Baltimore's First Powered (Steam) Police Boat

The Lannan was Baltimore's first police boat, put in service in 1891. Before that rowboats were used in the harbor.


This from the Sunday, Februray 23, 1958 issue of The Baltimore Sun:


Click on both images to enlarge.

The history of the Baltimore City Police Department's Marine Unit (originated 1860, formally founded on August 10, 1891) can be found here.

Baltimore Luggers - topsails?

These look like "Skipjacks".

I'd like to know if the bundles at the tops of some of the masts are flying topsails?



Nice photo of Baltimore Harbor in 1905. I think the Detroit Photo Co. knew little about oystering in the Chesapeake.

The term "lugger" was pretty much unknown around Baltimore. The boats with the masts severely inclined towards the stern are skipjacks. Skipjacks would pull a dredge along the bottom to harvest oysters.

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