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Union Wharf - 11 items.

Created by Lyman Moore Middle School students


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Item 12535

View of Portland harbor by moonlight

View of Portland harbor by moonlight / Maine Historical Society

Union Wharf is one of the oldest structures in Portland, Maine. Throughout its history it has been through a fire that almost destroyed the whole city, a sea battle that killed two captains, and the threat of German U-boats.

Union Wharf is still a monument to the people who built it. They used horse wagons to move rocks, dirt and other materials to make the wharf. They used more than 3,500 tons of lumber for the wharf, which would soon extend far into the bay.

At the beginning of Union Street a breastwork was built. A breastwork is a dock that is made of stones and rubble where ships loaded and unloaded their materials.
The Portland Harbor was a busy place in the late 1700s. For example, in 1793 twenty-three schooners, twenty sloops, and thirteen ships docked in the port that year.

 

Item 13052

Union Wharf, Portland, 1962

Union Wharf, Portland, 1962 / Maine Historical Society

In 1793 Union Wharf was built at the bottom of Portland?s Union Street, for which the wharf is named. A group of twenty-five men agreed to build the wharf. It was stated on the deed of the wharf, the wharf was built to bring stores and bussinesses to the waterfront.

?Proprietors of Union Wharf? is what the constructors of Union Wharf named themselves. In 1792 the group had voted that they were to sell their shares at about 50 pounds each. They did this to raise money to build the wharf. Enoch Ilsley, David Smith, Robert Boyd and Joseph Jewett each bought two shares. One proprietor, Nathaniel Deering had no share.

 

Item 11401

Commercial Wharf, Portland. ca. 1920

Commercial Wharf, Portland. ca. 1920 / Maine Historical Society

In 1797 writer Timothy Dwight wrote that ?no American town was more commercial or sprighty than Portland.? Business grew in Portland as did Union Wharf as the nation went into the nineteenth century. Portland became America?s sixth largest seaport in 1806.

 

Item 7830

Portland, 1865

Portland, 1865 / Maine Historical Society

At various times, trade at Union Wharf and along Portland's waterfront has been threatened.

After the Revolutionary War England and the United States? relationship deteriorated. At that time, Portland was a town of about three thousand people. Workers with marine related jobs, as well as many sailors, were now jobless.

The United States government enforced a law that did not allow trade with England. Many upset citizens disliked this law and continued to trade with England anyway.

 

Item 189

View of Portland Harbor, 1911

View of Portland Harbor, 1911 / Maine Historical Society

In the 19th century Portland started to grow and progress. Portland was getting so big that some of back bay and the harbor itself had to be filled in. This killed some industries on the wharves. Larger ships could not come up to the wharves anymore because the harbor was smaller. However, the landfill allowed for new buissnesses, places for people to live and eventually the tourists we see today.

 

Item 5854

Grand Trunk Railroad Roundhouse

Grand Trunk Railroad Roundhouse / Maine Historical Society

The Grand Trunk Railroad was built when the back bay and harbor were filled in. The Grand Trunk Railroad was built so that products could be shiped from the waterfront and Union Wharf to Montreal.

The railroads also opened other ways to go to Boston and let people come to Portland. The railroad delivered goods to the wharves and helped passengers to come in and out of Portland.

 

Item 4152

Flake yard, Portland, 1854

Flake yard, Portland, 1854 / Maine Historical Society

Mending nets and drying cod fish were a major part of work. People got more jobs and Union Wharf was more successful. Flake yards were always booming with fishing and mending nets. Union Wharf was a great place to buy fish and nets. Also, Union Wharf was a major place to buy lobster nets, traps and bait. Decades later these items can still be purchased on this very active wharf.

 

Item 1189

Custom House Wharf

Custom House Wharf / Maine Historical Society

Another wharf to be built on Portlands waterfront was Custom House Wharf. Union Wharf was the longest wharf until people started to build more wharves. These wharfs were built to keep the fishing and shipping industries alive. More wharves created more jobs. Boats could now enter the harbor and have a variety of wharves to park at. Custom House Wharf kept lobstering alive and increased jobs.

 

Item 13053

Hoist wheel, Union Wharf, Portland, 1962

Hoist wheel, Union Wharf, Portland, 1962 / Maine Historical Society

Hoist wheels were used to hoist heavy objects up on the dock by shifting the weight from the front to the back of the wheel with a rope. It took one to two men to use a hoist wheel. Hoist wheels were a very big help for men on the docks to lift heavy objects. Now they use fork lifts and cranes to lift the objects from boats to the docks and it only takes one person to do this.

 

Item 13758

F.H. Greely, Union Wharf

F.H. Greely, Union Wharf / Maine Historical Society

We would like to thank Angela Clark for giving us a tour of Union Wharf and for letting us interview her.
We would also like to thank Steve Bromage and Phoebe Tureen for helping us with our project. Also, we would like to thank Ray St. Pierre, our teacher, for helping us.

Thank You all for helping us with our project!

 

Item 10998

Waterfront, Portland, ca. 1890

Waterfront, Portland, ca. 1890 / Maine Historical Society

Bibliography
Gold, Susan and Jill Cournoyer. The History Of Union Wharf Saco, Maine: Custom Communications, 1998.
Clark, Angela. Union Wharf walking tour/Interview Portland, Maine.