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Deck Prisms on the Charles W. Morgan
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Vessels: 2 of 2

Charles W. Morgan

Built: 1841
Length: 113'
Breadth: 27½'
Draught: 13½'
Gross Tonnage: 314

Photos © Mystic Seaport

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Deck prisms on the Charles W. Morgan

Whaler Charles W. Morgan The Charles W. Morgan is an historic vessel, the last surviving wooden whaler in the world.

"Named for Charles Waln Morgan, who owned half the shares in the new ship, Charles W. Morgan became one of the most successful-- and eventually the last surviving-- American sailing whaleship ever built. Between 1841 and 1886 she made twelve voyages under nine different masters." --Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia

The Morgan is of particular interest to this site because of its deck prisms. Of typical hexagonal design, only one original survived (now in Mystic Seaport's collection), but it has been much reproduced. The ship itself is now fitted with these reproductions (see photos at left), and they are available from Mystic. This photo of a prism glass collection shows an original 3" deck prism next to one of the Morgan's reproduction 4" prisms.



THE CHARLES W. MORGAN AT MYSTIC SEAPORT

    The centerpiece of Mystic Seaport, the nation's leading maritime museum located in Mystic, CT, is the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whale ship in the world.

    Launched out of New Bedford, MA, in 1841, the Morgan sailed the oceans and seas of the world in search of whale oil, baleen and ambergris. The advent of petroleum, refineries and other technological changes brought the decline of the American whaling industry at the turn of the century. After 37 voyages, the Morgan was laid up in 1921.

    In retirement, the Morgan was used as the setting for two silent films in the 1920s: "Down to the Sea in Ships," with Clara Bow and "Java Head." For more than a decade she was on exhibit at the South Dartmouth, MA, home of Col. E. H. R. Green, a grandson of one of the ship's initial owners. The Colonel made no provision for the care of the Morgan after his death. When local efforts to maintain the ship failed, the decision was made to tow her to Mystic Seaport. In November, 1941, shortly before the country was plunged into ware, the Morgan made her last journey. Battered by the 1938 hurricane and years of disuse, she almost sank in the Mystic River before reaching the sand and gravel berth that was to be her home for the next 32 years.

    In 1970, Mystic Seaport began construction of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, a unique facility with a sawmill, a 90-foot lathe for turning masts and spars and a maritime elevator or lift dock capable of hauling a 375-ton vessel. The Morgan floated free in 1973 after two years of work on her lower hull. This was the beginning of a major restoration that would continue until 1984.

    Today hundreds of thousands of people visit Mystic Seaport and board the fully restored Charles W. Morgan each year. Visitors are welcome to walk the decks, help haul a line and go below to the cramped crew quarters called the "fo'c'sle." The Morgan is outfitted with pots and pans, whaling gear, clothing and tools that the ship would have carried on a voyage around Cape Horn in the Nineteenth Century.

    The Charles W. Morgan is one of many ways in which Mystic Seaport-- the Museum of American and the Sea-- tells the stories of America and the sea. Mystic Seaport is the nation's leading museum presenting the American experience from a maritime perspective. Located along the banks of the historic Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut, the Museum houses extensive collections representing the material culture of maritime America and offers educational programs from preschool to post-graduate. For more information, call (888) 973-2767 or visit mysticseaport.org.

© Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT.