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Manning - 1983 The Alvin Clark Revisited

Manning - 1983 The Alvin Clark Revisited -...

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Unformatted text preview: [If]fli‘ilil'lllilililll 1] 1111] l I l I The ALVIN CLARK Revisited 4 by Sam Manning hree people concerned with the ALVIN CLARK have come together in the pages of WoodenBoal for totally different reasons. Peter Spectre, Asso- ciate Editor, had been made aware of the raised schooner's deteriorating con- dition by reader response [0 his earlier reportage on historic ship preserva- tion. Shown retent snapshots of the vessel. and hearing some firsthand des- cription of her plight, Peter cut through his loaded schedule at WoodenBoal and went Straight to Menominee for a factfinding series of interviews. I didn't envy his mission. The ALVIN CLARK has become the symbol of effort and fortitude on the part of a few people. the dashed commercial hopes of others. MMWMH 212'2 67-81560r «WNW wflbflfieeflOO-za-lm aurgeto Masterauuye. Wintumcrder’as manywhere lnlhz WM norm Etc“ '16-- Vlad «American Express. M‘ HISA. ' its-tm-tmemmms 5mm mama t’oom mt! WE‘W'W ‘m “um!” -- 66 WoodenBoa’t/SZ “*3 the boil and chill of a midwestern marine media drama. and the shucked responsibility of institutions that might have Stepped in. Peter looked to be wading into a bucket of broken eggs. C.T. (Ted) McCutcheon. jr.. is a Detroit lawyer whose family operates the McCutcheon Boat Works at Char- levoix. Michigan. His father was the builder of the replica sloop WELCOME recently launched for the Mackinac Island Historical Commission. An avid Lakes sailor. Ted keeps his hand in boatbuilding practice by reconsuuc- ting historic vessels in scaled drawings and finely turned models. When the ALVIN CLARK refloated into the 20th century. it was Ted McCutcheon who took her lines. prepared working draw- ings of the vessel. and made the rigged model of her tobeexhibited at the Mys- tery Ship Museum. During the past half year. Ted has provided a guiding hand in my own research of another Lakes schooner. CLIPPER crrv (1854), an effort that focused for finish detail on the surviving ALVIN CLARK. Since one of the haunting things about the ALVIN CLARK is her birth on the Amer- ican frontier and her recovery, func- tionally intact. in the Age ofSpace. Ted was asked to write the ALVIN CLARK story in the perspective of her own time. His account of her last voyage is based on his intimate knowledge of the vessel and of the place. and of her peo- ple as beSt as they may be profiled from research done to date. His narrative of the handling of a wind ship through Death's Door Passage. Ted tells me. is based on sailing directions taken from Thompson’s Coast Pt'fot for 1865. As for my role in this presentation of the ALVIN CLARK story. it's part spectator. part cheerleader. and part drawer of pictures that defy the normal use of cameras. My wife and I were flown to Menominee last summer to make a careful examination of the ALVIN CLARK in connection with the CLIPPER CITY project. We were deli- vered to Menominee by David L. Pam- perin. Director of the Manitowoc Mari- time Museum. Our'round-trip flight from Maine to Wisconsin had been underwritten by Henry N. Barkhausen. whose gift to the Manitowoc Maritime Museum of a major documentary col- lection relating to Great Lakes marine commerce had precipitated the CLIP- PER CITY exhibit. }. Manning, San (1983). Alvin Clark Revisited, Uooden Boat, No. 52I - Nax-Jtne 1983, 66-68. Hoodenaoat Publications, Inc. The ALVIN CLARK is a Great Lakes schooner of 1846 admirably modelled for the conditions of her time: shallow ports of call, canal locks, and maxi- mum tonnage of bulk cargo to be moved under whatever press of sail was required to do it. The dimensions of her box-like hulI remarkably fit the early locks of the Welland Canal with little room to spare for paying fees upon. This Detroit schooner of 1846 was a very different vessel from CLIPPER CITY, the locally famous, Swift, radical lumber carrier built at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, eight years later. I had come to know the modelled look of CLIPPER CITY pretty well for having redesigned her, on paper, from her sur- viving offsets and timber scantlings, for a major exhibit on Lakes shipbuild- ing and marine commerce opened at the Manitowoc Maritime Museum in the spring of 1983. Yet although the years between the launch of ALVIN CLARK in 1846 and CLIPPER CITY in 1854 had seen Lakes schooner architec- ture evolve from Model A to Thunder- bird, as so it seemed in these two ves- sels, it was reasonable for us to assume that most detailing of hatches, deck furniture, and rig-handling gear would have been carried forward as proven and practical in the trades common to them both. It was obvious to Susan and me that the ALVIN CLARK had been constructed in a hotbed of apital infusion and technological brakthrough at the place of her birth. Clear, wide, incredibly long white oak planks lay on her hull and in her ceilings. Some of those planks are 70' in length. Although the hull structure and timber joiner-work seemed comparable to the surviving fragments of other vessels from Adan- tic shipyards of that period, this Detroit schooner of 1846 was totally fastened with iron, except for the trunnels used to join her bulwark stanch'ions to the iron-drifted main frames. Sophistica- ted iron forgings and iron castings were everywhere in her fabric, from threaded rigging screws compressing the logs of her centerboard trunk to iron-geared winches for raising the centerboard and hoisting her foreyards. Even her steering gear was a double- opposed wormscrew device. The vessel appeared to have been given the latest and best of everything to put her in business earning money for no-non- sense operators of fisheries, mines, or sawmills. But 1846 was a boom year, to be follOwed by a national depression in 1847. The year 1849 was to see the beginning of the gold rush, the rise of Atlantic clippers to capitalize on the California-bound fast passenger trade, and the opening of the McCormick Reaper Works at Chicago. It's no won- der that worm gears and geared winch axles were available to the ALVIN CLARK, as they would be to the clipper- built CLIPPER CITY at Manitowoc, near Chicago, eight years later. This was a feverish time for making fortunes in Lakes transport. The tremendous contribution of Great Lakes marine industry to Our national growth has‘~been grossly over- looked in media attention to the drama and traditions of saltwater commerce. Until the advent of the railway and the motor truck, the Great Lakes formed THE CELEBRATION 1"; the water link between the Atlantic- ports, the Gulfports, and the heartland of North Amerim. Immigrant labor poured westward into the American and Canadian midwest, principally by ' way of the port of New York, the Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes. Bulk agri- cultural products, iron ore, and timber moved eastward to Montreal and the Atlantic via the Welland Canal around Niagara Falls, and southward to the Gulf Coast by way of the Chicago River and the Mississippi. The Great Lakes region was an exciting place for entre- preneurial brains and capital as Amer- ica opened westward. Water transport OF WOODEN BOAT BUILDING. OVER 120 EXHIBITORS REPRESENTING THE FINEST ROWING, SAIL 8t POWER CRAFT IN NORTH AMERICA AUG 18—2’1,’83 WNGBOAMDNGWYADHWDHEGANCEMEWW WWWNAHONALBELTHESIKAOWLENGEQP. WMTOOISIVIAIHHAISANDYAO-IISFORSALE THEWOODEN BOATSIICMI 10am-6pm Dow Adufls $6 Onildren 5d. NEWPORT YACHIING CENTER P.O. BOX 5498 NewportRJ. C0840 (401)846-16w Manoefickefsceomiloblebvnnfiatoneddladnhagdepdoefiéodufl.$3cn‘Idren) 52/WoodenBoat 67 l l I 1 l l I; I JIIIIIII I I [II I I![lllililli!1[lill‘li led the list for quick profits. It was here that new technology in sail and steam found welcome application in the mid- 19th century. If the ALVIN CLARK bears testimony to the preservative qualities of Great Lakes waters, it follows that the Lakes contain today a tremendous assortment of marine architecture and marine artifacts relating directly to the growth and settlement of our country. Henry N. Barkhausen is a concerned Lakes marine historian and a know- ledgeable former shipbuilder. He is also a prudent businessman. Aware that the CLARK is a pristine monument to the Lakes shipbuilders' trade, and saddened by her deteriorating condition at Meno- minee, Henry Barkhausen nevertheless chose to place his chips in the Mani- towoc Maritime Museum, where the Lakes shipbuilding story might b6told more fully and in a more public arena, with reasonable guarantee that the phy- sical material would survive for com- ing generations. With a view toward sunken vessels now known, or soon to be found by the growing army of recrea- tional divers working the Great Lakes, Barkhausen is making an effort to. acquaint these people, through their associations, with guides to identifying hull and rig. It is hoped that when a _ New rule?" ngh CapaCIty Pumps, . Take OUI'S' ' or Take Hours. rulesouo CPH . .. Duty. The hlgnest capacity Submersmle bilge pump available. rule 5 Year 2000 CPH . . . so rename it is guaranteed 5 years against fallure and wearout. 68 WoodenBoat/52 I'Ulfe General Purpose Heavy duty, extra high capacuv was‘ndown and/or llvewell pump. rule 800 ‘ _ . 800 QPH from a 7 fist-5:26 pump. ‘ . Desagned for normally . inaccessmle areas. q 4- genuinely historic wreck is located, proper underwater documentation am be accomplished before anything is removed. If the ALVIN CLARK collapses tomor- row, she will at least have been noticed. The drama of her raising and of her floating appearance has been fully recorded on television and on film. Thousands of visitors will remember the thrill of walking the deck, scanning the lofty rig, and entering the hold of an exhumed, genuine 19th-century Lakes schooner. Her measurements and her details have been recorded. Anyone wishing to build a model or full-size replica of her can do so with accuracy. But maybe the ALVIN CLARK’s important contribution has been to spotlight the dilemma facing anyone who would seek to commercially em- ploy, or to market, the carcass of a wooden vessel that has lain on the Lake bottom for a hundred years. The CLARK has shown that without immediate, consistent, and scientific stabilization measures, an exhumed wooden hull fades pretty fast. To be outside in the weather, the ALVIN CLARK needed care~ , ful drying out. chemical replacement of the Lake water squeezed from her wood, and continual maintenance or replacement of the porous timber in her. Preservation of this calibre comes too high in cost for beached or floating commercial use of such a vessel as a restaurant, a small museum, or a dance hall. To house a relic of this size away from the weather and to embalm it for study and exhibit—well. that's a task best left to government. The City of Hamilton, Ontario, is currently proposing to build a huge ac'Iuarium to display the 1812 armed schooners HAMILTON and SCOURGE within the liquid that has preserved those vessels until our time. However, for my money, it’s the newly invented, mobile underwater camera employed in photographing HAMILTON and SCOURGE that offers the-most promise ' in terms of accurate documentation for . the historians, salvage opportunities for the finders of wrecks, and dignity for the vessel and her entombed crew. Why not let a wreck be registered, pro- tected, and then fully recorded by under- water photogiaphy? When that has been done to the satisfaction of whoever documents shipwrecks, then let the wreck be raised if the salvor considers it to be expedient, or let him pick it apart for saleable, durable artifacts in the privacy of its grave. After all, if it were not for commercially inspired divers, the ALVIN CLARK's story would remain a few terse, forgotten lines in the Green Bay Advocate of June, 1864. 2'. 3 ...
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