Lamartine

The sanctuary located the two-masted schooner Lamartine with side scan sonar in 2004. The shipwreck is located in over 300 feet of water off Gloucester, Mass. Sanctuary archaeologists and scientists from the University of Connecticut subsequently investigated the Lamartine with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and documented its remains and cargo of approximately forty granite sewer catch basin heads. These large granite slabs, with manholes bored through the middle, were used in the construction of city streets and sewer systems.

Granite Basin Heads
     
Granite Basin Heads
The Lamartine’s cargo of granite basin heads proved to be its identifying characteristic.
Courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURTEC-UConn. (click on image for high-resolution version)

Granite Basin Head
The carefully chiseled groove around the basin head’s manhole allowed the manhole cover to fit flush with the slab’s surface. Courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURTEC-UConn. (click on image for high-resolution version)

Granite Basin Heads
     
Granite Basin Heads
Lamartine’s piled basin heads are now home to colorful anemones and fishes.
Courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURTEC-UConn. (click on image for high-resolution version)

During the 19th and 20th centuries, a considerable quantity of granite was cut from New England quarries and shipped by water to America s developing cities. Granite transportation supported a large fleet of sailing vessels ranging from specialized sloops to multi–masted schooners. Waterborne transportation was the most economical way to move the heavy granite from coastal quarries to its final destination. Granite’s tremendous strength made it ideal for large public buildings, bridges, streets, and sidewalks.

Schooners
Two and three-masted schooners loaded granite cargos directly from the quarries in Stonington, Maine and Rockport, Mass. Courtesy of Deborah Marx. (click on image for high-resolution version)

Granite basin head example
This 1903 photograph depicts a granite basin head in use on a Commonwealth Avenue street corner in Boston, Mass. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
(click on image for high-resolution version)

The schooner Lamartine was built in Camden, Maine for Captain George Washington Thorndike and launched in August 1848. It measured 79.9 ft. long, 22.4 ft. wide, and was most likely built by the Carleton, Norwood, and Company shipyard. During its 45–year career, the Lamartine operated up and down the East Coast in the coasting trade carrying bulk cargos of lumber, granite, and other commodities. The schooner sailed from New England to as far south as South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Cuba. A group of intrepid Maine treasure hunters even charted the vessel to salvage a shipwreck off Venezuela.

Lamartine departed on its final voyage from Stonington, Maine to New York City on 15 May 1893. Captain Eben W. Eaton commanded the vessel with his brother, Jeremiah W. Eaton, serving as first mate. A third sailor, Myron Powers, served as the cook and deckhand. Its cargo of granite sewer catch basin heads was consigned to the Booth Brothers and Hurricane Isle Granite Company of New York. The John L. Goss Corporation had contracted the T. Snow and Company quarry to cut the stone while they oversaw the contract and eventual shipment.

Statue
This statue, by William H. Muir, sits on the wharves in Stonington, Maine. It is a tribute to those who worked the Deer Isle granite quarries.

On 17 May 1893, two days into its trip south, the Lamartine encountered rough seas that caused its cargo to shift and the vessel to capsize. Myron Powers drowned as the schooner sank and the Eaton brothers jumped into the water where they clung to the schooner’s overturned yawl boat. Fortunately, the fishing schooner Edith M. McInnis saw the Lamartine’s distress signal and arrived on the scene shortly after the schooner sank beneath the waves. Crewmen from the Edith M. McInnis risked their lives to launch a dory to bring the Eaton brothers aboard. Once the Edith M. McInnis arrived in Gloucester, Mass., the Eatons returned home to Stonington via rail.

 

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Revised April 25, 2012 by Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Web Group
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