As visitors stroll between buildings on a beautiful summer morning, heads turn to find the source of a rhythmic tap-tap-tapping. The sound of mallets against wood chisels is coming from a rustic structure with a sign announcing “Boatshop.” Another wooden sailing vessel is under construction on the grounds of the former Percy & Small shipyard, now the home of the Maine Maritime Museum.
Located on the banks of the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, the museum occupies the United States’ only remaining shipyard site with original workshops and slipways where great wooden sailing vessels were once built.
During its heyday, the Percy & Small yard specialized in constructing sailing schooners (four to six masts). Among them was the giant wooden schooner Wyoming, built in 1909 and the largest ever constructed in this country. Photographs can’t convey the massive size of the six-masted ship, so the museum built a life-size steel sculpture of the vessel’s bow and stern sections. Spanning the Wyoming’s actual 450-foot overall length, the structure dominates the museum’s grounds.