Travel

A Maine Mason at Sea

In 1852, shipbuilders in Calais, Maine, near the American border with Canada, launched a ship named the Lincoln. The following year, the Lincoln would commemorate American Independence Day many miles from Maine, in the Aegean port of Smyrna, Greece (now İzmir, Turkey). Like the Lincoln, her captain that day left his Maine home to make a living in the maritime world of the nineteenth century.

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Bark Lincoln, W.H. Polleys Master Laying at Anchor in Smyrna July 4th 1853. Raffaele Corsini, Smyrna, Greece. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 85.9.

In this watercolor, acquired by the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1985, the Lincoln is shown lying at anchor in the foreground, with the city, its castle, and surrounding hills in the background. The ship bears four flags: from bow to stern, the “Union Jack” or Navy Jack, a blue flag with a Masonic square and compasses, a masthead pennant, and an American flag. The Lincoln’s Union Jack, a blue flag with white stars flown on American ships, appears to have twenty-six stars and her American flag twenty-one stars. Given that the United States had thirty-one states by 1853, perhaps the ship’s owners or captain had not updated her flags or, more likely, the painter took artistic license with these details.

It is believed that ship’s captains sometimes raised a flag bearing a square and compasses to invite Masons in the area aboard their vessel. To local residents and other mariners, this signaled his fraternal affiliation and served as an invitation for conversation, informal meetings, and trade. The Lincoln was in Smyrna in July 1853 to purchase opium, a common ingredient in American patent medicines at the time.

The Lincoln’s captain and 1/16 share owner for her first five years was Woodbury H. Polleys. Polleys was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in 1817 and raised in Portland Lodge No. 1 in 1844. When he took command of the ship, he had been, as he later wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, “at sea as Master of a Ship since June 1848, principally trading between Europe & southern ports . . .”

After the Lincoln, Polleys went on to captain other vessels, including at least three Union ships during the Civil War. These included the USS Katahdin, USS Oleander, and USS Madgie. The latter two ships were part of the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, preventing Confederate vessels from eluding the Union trade blockade. After the Madgie sank off North Carolina in 1863, Polleys traveled north to Maine for a month’s leave “to procure a new outfit and visit my family.”

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Polleys used his knowledge of international trade to serve the new United States as Consul to Barbados and Commercial Agent to Cuba. Woodbury H. Polleys died of suicide in 1885 and is buried in Portland’s Pine Grove Cemetery. His headstone bears a Masonic square and compasses, as his ship’s flag did that day in 1853, many miles from Maine.

If you want to dive into this piece of artwork further, you can visit it and many others in our exhibition, “What’s in a Portrait?,” now on view at the Museum & Library. You can also visit the online version of the exhibition.

Further Reading:


United States in Stereo: The Birth of American Tourism

Sara Rose is a Curatorial Intern in our collections department and a first year graduate student in the Library and Information Science program (Archives Management Concentration) at Simmons College. Throughout the summer she has assisted us in our ongoing digitization efforts and online collection social media projects. She shares some insight below about some of the objects she's been working with during her internship. 

 

Summer. A time of warm weather, long days, and of course, vacations. Whether it’s a day trip a few towns over or a weeks-long vacation across the country, Americans have had a long love affair with summer tourism. In the late 1800s there was a dramatic rise in recreational tourism throughout the United States. The newly completed trans-American railroad made interstate travel accessible to the masses, many of whom were increasingly located in urban regions after industrialization. As urban Americans flocked to the seashores and wilderness for leisure, tourism became a profitable enterprise.

National Parks, seaside resorts, and other tourist attractions promoted vacation travel within the United States. Photography played a key role in the development of national tourist attractions, making it possible to mass distribute images showing various places of interests and inspiring wanderlust for the American countryside. Below are just a few examples of this kind of tourism promotion from the over 300 sterocards in the  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.

2010_055_277DS1This stereocard, titled “Grandeur of the Waters,” showcases the famed waterfalls of Niagara, New York. Visible on the left side of the photograph is a group of tourists taking in the view.

 

 

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Another stereocard, titled “In Surf, Sand, and Sun,” depicts throngs of beachgoers on the shores of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Atlantic City, one of the earliest resort cities in the United States, has remained a popular destination for summer tourists to this day.

 

2010_055_175DS1This final stereocard shows a street lined with cottages on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Signs can be seen offering summer rentals to the crowds of tourists who flocked to the Vineyard for vacation, as well as laborers looking for seasonal work.

 

To learn more about stereocards in our collection visit our previous blog posts here.

Captions:

Grandeur of the Waters, Niagara Falls, N.Y., 1905, H.C. White Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.277

 In Surf, Sand and Sun, Atlantic City, N.J., 1905, H.C. White Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.163

Fourth Avenue Campground, Martha’s Vineyard, 1873. Unidentified, USA. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.175

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"Treasured Lands" Photographer Returns to Museum Sept. 10

Yosemite "Luong’s large-format camera creates images of beaches and glaciers  and deserts and waterfalls from American Samoa to Maine that were so astonishingly sharp and mesmerizing that my father was convinced there was some special 3-D technology involved. There’s not: they’re just awesome photos."

- Seth Kugel, The New York Times

Photographer Quang-Tuan Luong prefers to capture his images with a large format camera and film sheets over using a lightweight digital camera. The spectacular images in his exhibition, "Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight U.S. National Parks in Focus," testify to his success. Using this technology, his camera catches more detail than the human eye can perceive, making his photos particularly dense and rich.

Treasured-lands-mohn-events Visitors love this show - many report they have returned to visit it four or five times. "Treasured Lands" strikes a deep chord with many people, so we have invited Luong to speak at the Museum on Saturday, Sept. 10. Join us at 2 PM for "Treasured Lands: Journeys and Vision." Luong will show us fresh images from the "Treasured Lands" project that occupied him for fifteen years, explain how his explorations of the American National Parks have influenced his recent photographic work, and delve into the intricacies of large format photographic technology. He will be on hand following the talk for a book signing. Spectacular Yosemite, 2011, will be available for purchase. His free public lecture is sponsored by the Lowell Institute. For more information about the talk, visit our website or call the Museum during business hours at 781-861-6559.

A computer scientist by training, Luong’s love for nature and adventure led him to become a mountain climber, wilderness guide, and full-time photographer. In picturing the distinguishing features of each of the 58 national parks, Luong shares his understanding of what makes a particular place unique. His photographs allow us to see the parks with fresh eyes. They also serve as a reminder for us to cherish and protect these treasured lands.

For the past twenty-five years, I have been privileged to travel, trek, and climb in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the earth. My goal has always been to bring back the wonders I’ve seen to people who can’t get there.

--Quang-Tuan Luong

Photo Credits:

Yosemite National Park, California, January 2002. Quang-Tuan Luong. © by the artist.

Quang-Tuan Luong Speaking at the National Heritage Museum, March 2010. Courtesy of Quang-Tuan Luong.


Travel to Treasured Lands

For the past twenty-five years, I have been privileged to travel, trek, and climb in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the earth. My goal has always been to bring back the wonders I’ve seen to people who can’t get there.
 --Quang-Tuan Luong


The Museum’s new exhibition, “Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight National Parks in Focus” features breathtaking large-format photographs taken by computer scientist-turned-photographer Quang-Tuan Luong. “Treasured Lands” offers the perspective of a world traveler whose personal commitment to preserving America’s beauty and natural resources shows in his work. By capturing the distinguishing features of each national park, Luong shares his understanding of what makes each place unique.

Luong’s experiences in traveling to all 58 national parks, as described in the exhibitions text, are also unique. He kayaked through iceberg-laden waters, canoed down wild rivers, scuba-dived tropical seas, climbed to the summit of Mt. McKinley, and frequently trekked the trailless terrain of the backcountry, all while lugging his 75-pound large format camera, photo gear, and camping equipment.

Gates of the Arctic, gaar21072.large When reviewing the text before the exhibition was installed, I looked on the National Park Service’s web site for additional information about some of the parks. I was struck by how remote many of them are. Only an experienced backpacker and outdoorsperson would be able to visit Gates of the Arctic National Park, for example, since it has no roads and is only accessible by floatplane. Much of the information provided on the NPS’s “Things To Know Before You Come” link have to do with wilderness survival and bear safety. Not a vacation that will appeal to everyone! Although I love visiting national parks, I prefer a hotel bed to a sleeping bag. I knew I would never visit this park in person, and welcomed the opportunity to see it through Luong’s photograph.

For a trip to a wide variety of landscapes that you might not otherwise see—from the rugged glaciers and mountains to lush, tropical islands and everything in between—visit “Treasured Lands,” on view through October 20, 2010. Mr. Luong will speak at the Museum about his experiences as an adventurous photographer of the national parks on March 14, 2010, at 2 PM as part of our Lowell Lecture Series. 

Photo: The Maidens, Gates of the Arctic National Park, August 2000. Alaska. © Quang-Tuan Luong