TThe WYOMING was a schooner with the following statistics: Length; 329.5 feet, Breadth; 50.1 feet, Depth; 30.4 feet, tons; 3,730, Hull; wood, Complement; 13, Builder; Percy & Small, Bath, Maine, 1909.

One of the largest wooden hulls ever built, this six master giant had the largest tonnage of any wooden schooner built (the only larger one was the seven masted THOMAS W. LAWSON, which was steel.) She was also the last six masted wooden schooner built in New England. This was the final page of a story that had begun in the year 1879 when the first four-masted schooner was built. This was possible only because the steam donkey engine was introduced as part of the schooners equipment. With the steam donkey engine the huge sails could be raised and lowered and the equally large anchors could be handled with a very small crew, which was the only reason these ships were financially possible. By significantly reducing the schooners manning requirements (note that the WYOMING lists a crew of 13, which includes the captain), the donkey engine made possible what turned out to be a thirty year production of ever larger schooners, culminating in the WYOMING. By the time WYOMING slipped down the ways, East Coast shipbuilders had launched 311 four-masted schooners, 45 five-masted schooners, 10 six masted and the one seven masted schooner, the LAWSON (although she was steel.)

The big schooners were designed primarily for the Delaware and Chesapeake coal trade, those the large carrying capacity of the schooners and the request for even larger ones to carry more coal. The schooners competition was large barges pushed by tugs, which slowly took over the trade. Schooners were pushed out of the New York market first, and following the opening of the Sewall’s Point coal facility in Norfolk, Virginia, shippers turned increasingly to steamships on their New England routes. World War I brought a brief reprieve for the windjammers, but many ships were laid up in the postwar shipping slump. WYOMING was owned by Percy & Small, her builder, and designed by Bant Hanson. Her first master was Captain Angus McLeod and she led a trouble free and profitable existence for her owners and investors. She was sold to the France & Canada Steamship Co. in 1917 for a reported $350,000.00. She was then sold to A. W. Frost & Company of Portland.

Thus, WYOMING escaped the fate of being laid up for her respective owners by sailing on ever longer routes. On March 3, 1924 (the ship was about 15 years old) she departed Norfolk for St. John, New Brunswick. On the 24th she anchored off the Pollock Rip Lightship to ride out a nor’easter, but she sank with the loss of all her 13 crew, including Captain Charles Glasel.

As far as I am aware, there is no kit model of the WYOMING available, but there is an excellent book, “A SHIPYARD IN MAINE, Percy & Small and the Great Schooners” by Ralph Linwood Snow and Captain Douglas K. Lee, Publishers: Tilbury House, Gardiner, Maine, 1999. Your esteemed editor purchased the book at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine, when I was there last year for the Nautical Research Guild Conference. Included in the book are plans of the WYOMING as well as much more detail on this ship on the many others that the Percy & Small shipyard built. The site of the Museum is on the old Percy & Small shipyard, with many of the old buildings and equipment still there as part of the museum. If you ever go to that area, this museum is a must see. The museum does have a web site and I believe the book could be purchased from them via the web site if desired. It is an excellent read. A brief sample of the book: “At the shipyard at 12:45 P.M., long before the forwardmost keel blocks were reached, the remaining blocks began to creak and crack ominously as the combination of gravity, 4,000-plus tons of impatient schooner, and well-greased inclined ways began to take over. Scrambling forward toward the bow of the big schooner and daylight, the carpenters soon found themselves leaping over rolling blocks and cribbing in a desperate effort to get clear. Then the daylight appeared as WYOMING passed over their heads with a sigh bound for the Kennebec River.”