The village and ships area is an active living history museum.
Mystic has a history as a shipbuilding town. There are many ships here to explore from sloops and schooners to whaling ships.
the photo here is the whaling ship, Charles W. Morgan* which was built in 1841.
Mystic Seaport happens to be one of Ferni's favorite places (mine too, this was our first road trip back when we first met in 2007). There is always something new or different, but the steep price ($24 per adult), makes it an occassional trip.
Mystic Seaport is a great place to come if you enjoy nautical and maritime history. It is a well known maritime museum with a re-created 19th century sea village, historical tall ships, many exhibit gallerys including many of maritime life, a planetarium, the Voyages-Stories of American and the Sea (an exhibit that showcases maritime life past and present), and a really nice replica of the smallest lighthouse on the eastern seaboard. The DuPont Preservation ship yard, a working shipyard that is currently working on preservation on the world's last whaling ship, the CHARLES W. MORGAN.
There is a large patch of grass with a nice gazebo where you can find a lay on the grass, have a picnic or just enjoy the weather.
Check out their website below for in depth detail of the happenings at the seaport during your visit, you can also pre-purchase your tickets on line to avoid long lines (during high summer season)
Entrance fee (2010) for adults is $24; seniors, active military and students are $22, children under 5 are free.
Times of operation are as follows:
Spring/Summer/Early Fall 2010
March 27 - October 31
Open Daily 9am-5pm
Late Fall 2010
November 1 - November 28
Open Daily 10am - 4pm
There are a lot of interesting things to see in the reproduction village (photo 5 shows us walking around) which has various buildings brought from other places to show what a generic whaling village would look like. Some of the things are specific to whaling (like the ships the rope walk, and smithwright (aka blacksmith)), and others are just colonial shops like the printers shop (photos 2 and 3)
The Lobster Car sign that my husband is reading says: "Lobstermen and dealers kept lobsters alive in floating wooden crates called 'cars' to await shipment to market or for an increase in price. This car is a reproduction of the ones that were used by dealers around 1890. Cars used by lobstermen were of similar construction but smaller. As many as 1,000 lobsters could be kept alive in a car of this size."
Photo 4 is of a replica of the Brant Point Lighthouse which was built on Nantucket in 1966. It was the second operative lighthouse in New England. The wooden tower, built in 1900 is the lowest lighthouse in New England with its light only 26 feet above sea level.
Jim thought maybe we could take a water taxi (photo 5) down to a restaurant that he had heard about, but the water taxi (which is free) only goes from one end of Mystic to the other.
There are many other boat rides that can be taken though, even if you don't have your own boat. The only one that is free with admission is the water shuttle which takes you from one end of the grounds to the other.
The first picture is of the Sabino which is a 1908 coal-fired steamboat and National Historic Landmark which gives 30- and 90-minute cruises mid-May through Columbus Day. The charge is about $5.00.
You can also get a harbor cruise for $5.00 (photo 2), or you can rent a small rowboat or sailboat (photos 3 and 4).
I wanted to put together a tip about the non-maritime trades in Mystic, but when I went to the blacksmith's forge it turned out to be a shipsmith shop which was built at the head of Merrill's Wharf (now Homer's Wharf) in New Bedford, Massachusetts, by James D. Driggs in 1885. It is the only manufactory of ironwork for the whaling industry known to have survived from the nineteenth century. So I was wrong about that.
I also looked at the Block Island fire engine (photo 2) which was made in the 1850s and would be pulled by four men. They could build up pressure inside the dome to shoot a stream of water over 100 feet. Shipbuilders used these fire engines to fill a hull with water before launching to swell the planking, tighten seams, and indicate leaks.
I looked in the bank (photo 3) which was not for ordinary people - it was a commercial bank where dependable businessmen could secure loans and mortgages for solid ventures like shipbuilding or farming.
I dropped into the printing office (photo 4) and talked to the man representing the printer. This was assembled to represent a newspaper and job printing shop of the late 19th century. And photo 5 is the 1889 chapel built by the people of the Fishtown section of Mystic. It was a school for awhile, and then in 1949, the Fishtown Chapel was purchased, moved to Mystic Seaport, and restored. It was rededicated as a chapel in 1950.
This is a replica of the Brant Point Lighthouse which was built on Nantucket in 1966. It is open daily from 9-5.
The first Brant Point Light was built in 1746. It was the second operative lighthouse in New England (the first being Boston Light dating from 1716). The wooden tower, built in 1900 is the lowest lighthouse in New England with its light only 26 feet above sea level.
Like the original on Nantucket, the Mystic Brant Point Lighthouse replica contains a fourth-order Fresnel lens which has a 1,300 candlepower electric light and is visible for ten miles.
Inside the lighthouse is a handicapped accessible multimedia exhibition recounting the history and diversity of lighthouses from around the country. Outside the lighthouse at 4:30 pm Talemakers present "Keeping the Light," a new 30-minute program depicting stories of New England lighthouses and the keepers who maintained them.
One of the most interesting parts of Mystic is that there are real historic buildings, transported from locations around New England which are home to many of the maritime trades that would have been necessary to the sailors, from shipsmiths and coopers to woodcarvers and riggers.
The cooperage was a shop where round wooden barrels, were made (photo 1 and 4). The display building for this craft was once a barn on the Thomas Greenman property, and has been modified to include typical features of a cooperage: a hearth large enough to work in while firing casks, a crane with a block and tackle and chine hooks, and a loft for storage.
Photo 2 shows the Mast Hoop shop of George Washington Smith from Canterbury, Conn. The hoop maker specialized in the manufacture of wooden mast hoops of assorted sizes which held the sail to the mast on fore-and-aft rigged vessels.
Charles Mallory Sail Loft is shown in photo 3. This sail loft was originally located downriver from the Greenman shipyard where the Museum now stands, but it was brought here by barge in 1951.
Photo 5 is the Cordage company which made rope. The building was originally located in Plymouth MA and was over 1,000 feet long and contained three rope-making grounds. The fibers had to be twisted into ropes so a very long area known as a rope walk was needed. Only 250 feet of the rope walk has been relocated to Mystic.
Or as my friend A would say, why don't we just experience some sailors instead? But seriously, at Mystic Seaport you are allowed on board the historic ships so that you can really check them out and get a sense of what it may have been like to live aboard one of them for months on end. It is shocking to see how small everything is, how every inch of space was utilized. One of my favorite things were the prisms in the upper deck floor that allowed light to shine down into the lower deck. They were really beautiful.
In addition to offering boat building demonstrations, Mystic Seaport also offers boat building lessons to those who are interested. You can learn to build several different types of boats. They even offer special classes which are taught by and for women. See their website for a listing of class times and prices.
The 19th Century Maratime Village at Mystic has several "hands on" demonstrations for visitors to see. One of my favorites was the rope making building. The building is several times longer than it is wide in order to make room for the rope to stretch long distances while it is made. The machines that twist the natutal fibers into rope are facinating, and even more facinating is how strong the rope is!
The Charles W. Morgan was built in 1841 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It is today the last wooden whaling ship of its kind. This ship is very special to my family. Charles W. Morgan was my maternal grandmother's grandfather. Her maiden name was Morgan, and my youngest sister is named Morgan in honor of the family name. It is in fact from this lineage that I get my "blue blood" and my Daughters of the American Revolution membership card, though it has also been a source of terrible jokes by my friends throughout my life which usually center around Captain Morgan's Rum!
Another wonderful fact about this ship is that there has recently been historical evidence discovered which proves that it was used to free American slaves, taking them from ports in the southern United States to Canada in exchange for their labor while on board.
The Morgan was declared a national landmark in 1977 and is very much worth seeing if you are ever on the Connecticut coast.
You wouldn't think that a barrell could be so interesting until you speak with the retired history teacher who is a volunteer guide at the barrell shop. There are so many sizes, types, and uses....kids like to have their picture taken in one of the big barrells.
Lobster traps, wharfs, clam shacks...all are a part of the learning experience at Mystic Village. Kids get so much out of their history lesson this way. These "living museums" such as we find in Mystic; Plymouth, Mass.; or Salem....are wonderful ways for everyone to learn. I like the feel of walking back through time.
Visit the Blacksmith Shop where a smithy is working on actual products for the ships and buildings at the village. The smith narrates the stories of working in the 1800's. Kids usually love this part of the tour....but adults seem fascinated as well. When you think of the hours it took to produce even one hinge!
There are many education programs available at Mystic. Summer camp, special one day classes and even lessons in cooking in a brick oven! My husband and I want to sign up for that...spend an evening and have dinner in the process. Then we'll be ready for our own brick oven...see my Rhode Island pages showing our restoration project.
Open every day except Christmas, Mystic Seaport consists of a whole village of seafaring exhibits, buildings, ships, support services, shops, and wharfs. The red building is a boat shed...with other minor buildings and docks all around. There is a peaceful air about the place....you can take your time exploring, stop for lunch, learn, read, or sit under a tree on one of the many benches provided.