Boston Steamship in Hot Water

The steamer Nobska could be scrapped.

Feb. 28, 2006 

Dear Preservation 911,

The steamer Nobska's demise is rapidly approaching, as pressure mounts to remove the venerable ship from the Charlestown Navy Yard dry-dock in Boston. The National Park Service says it needs the use of the dry-dock should the nearby USS Constitution fall victim to a terror strike. The problem is that the partially restored Nobska is not yet seaworthy. Ship welders have yet to complete their task of buttoning up the hull since fund-raising efforts faltered.

The frigate is a national treasure. The Nobska is the last steel coastal steamship on the eastern seaboard and is one of the nation's last passenger steamers. It was built at Bath Iron Works and went into service in 1925 carrying passengers and cargo. The ship is well known to those who live on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, as well as New Bedford and Woods Hole, Mass.

Our group found three other near cousins in our effort to nominate the Nobska as one of American's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places this year. One is on the West Coast, while two are on the Great Lakes.

Other surviving tall-stack steamers include the SS Catalina in Mexico, and the two Bob-lo boats, the Stmr. Columbia and the Stmr. Ste. Claire near Detroit. These steamers' futures are in doubt, too. Another US steamer was the SS Canadiana. It was recently scrapped in Ontario, not far from its homeport of Buffalo. Will all our surviving steamers follow the Stmr. Canadiana into oblivion?

Today, the Nobska sits in the dry-dock, the sword of Damocles suspended over her. Will someone help us save the Nobska? Will a government authority give us time to repair and free the Nobska from her prison? Will a patron come forward and fund our efforts?

The steamer Nobska really belongs to future generations, in the country where the steamboat was invented. Will we be good stewards by saving the Nobska for them to experience? Help us pass the torch.


Steve Lindsey

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