Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New England Stmr. SS NOBSKA c.1967 -The Model

                  New England stmr. SS NOBSKA enroute to Nantucket , Summer 1960   

Steam transportation to and from the offshore islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket via the Mainland has been an American tradition since its early beginnings in 1826.

The start of this steam phenomenon began on New York's Hudson River in 1807 -expanding east to New England and then, south and north. It was the beginning of the Industrial Age; an age of great ideas and innovation... An age of open opportunity, prosperity, and wealth for those willing to endure the vigors of competition.

As companies grew, more and more steamboats  began to occupy the waterways of the Northeast. One such steamboat to operate in the New England Region of this area was a vessel named NOBSKA. She was a steel hulled vessel of 1082 tons, having a length of 202 feet and a beam of 36 feet. Her water depth in the hold was 13 feet and she was powered by a four-cylinder triple expansion engine.

Built in 1925 at Bath, Maine by Bath Ironworks, she went south to Massachusetts to operate for the New England Steamship Company. After serving several owners during her five decade career, she ceased operations in 1973 under the owner: Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority (1961-1975). In these photos, I show my build of NOBSKA as she appeared in 1967.

NOBSKA became an interesting subject to model, inpart, because of the many drawings, prints and paintings I viewed at Mystic Seaport, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard during the '80s. From those viewings it was evident that a scale model should be made. However, it was the fond memories that her former travellers had that prompt the building.

Never seeing the actual steamship, that opportunity came in the Fall of 2004 when I was invited to lecture to a shipmodel guild in Boston. She was drydocked at the USS Constitution Museum.

After several attempts with Boston's Parks Department to get some of her wood to build exclusive models, I was refused. What better way to honor a vessel than to build models from her actual structure! I finally thought about the frutal efforts of FON (Friends of Nobska) who tried to get support to keep her preserved for dial purpose, re: a commuter steamer serving as a floating educational museum.

Times were changing and the inland/ coastal steamer was, indeed, becoming a thing of the past.

FON (Friends of Nobska) had hoped to have her restored but all efforts for this failed and she was finally scrapped. This organization attempted to acquire her years prior, in 1975, when the Revitalization Project in Baltimore's Inner Harbor was in effect.

The vessel was sold to Adam Spiegel who tried to have her serve as a floating restaurant in the harbor. But as the development progressed, there was no interest to have NOBSKA as part of the plan. So after 13 years of waiting Mr. Spiegel finally released the historic ship to the FON Membership.

Upon release, in 1988, NOBSKA returned to Fall River, Massachusetts -the same area where she departed to go south in '75.

FON published their excitement in their Nobska News newsletter that prior winter. At that time I had joined their membership, but it was eventually short-lived.

I still went on to build beautiful models of this beloved vessel and appreciated the support from those who believed in my work to commission the models -as it is this day.

The version that I chose to model which, I believe is her most attractive presentation, is her appearance of 1967.
From a professional viewpoint her lines are sharp, and the colorscheme and black markings make her quite appealing. To that end, I found no one to challenge this.

Below are two views of NOBSKA. The model is scratchbuilt from wood and the accessories are handmade, with only the propellor manufactured from soft metal. The scale of this work is 1/8" = 1', overall length of 26 1/4" inches.

                     New England S.S. Nobska c.1967 -custom wood model by the author.                   

As with all my models, I work in various lengths. However, with this particular project NOBSKA has been the most prolific at this scale. It took sixty days to complete and became an enjoyable build.

There are those today who remember this popular steamship and the sound of her whistle in and around Nantucket Sound. In operation, I never saw or heard her except for the sight at the USS Constitution Museum in Boston.

As a craftsman/ shipmodelbuilder, I'm honored to have the ability to produce these works for both collector and viewer. On Nantucket several have spoken to me about modeling her. On Martha's Vineyard several have shared data regarding her... And finally, to compliment the triple expansion steamship,  models of NOBSKA have found homes in various Cape Cod locations -including the  Massachusetts mainland and areas of New York State.

Five decades she ran in the Sound. She now sails on in history - and in the hearts of those who knew and rode her.