Maine Immigrants Build America’s First Ship


Halfblue at the English Language, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


This Wikipedia photo of a 17th century pinnace is flying Old Glory way before the mid-20th century, but Maine did build the first transatlantic ship in the New World in 1607. It carried pioneers from Maine to England, and then back to Jamestown Virginia thirteen years before the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Massachusetts.

At the time, the “Virginia Colony” extended from Maine to Virginia, some 750 miles by land. While Jamestown gets the credit for being the first permanent settlement in the New World, Maine, the northern terminus, established a sister colony at Popham Beach on a panoramic bluff overlooking Casco Bay. But fourteen months later, these pioneers built a 50 foot pinnace and sailed back to England, turning their backs on the bracing climate, hostile Indians, and boulder-strewn mouth of the Kennebec River.

The group Maine’s First Ship, is today building a replica of that vessel, The Virginia. Nim Marsh, editor of Points East, states in the September 2015 newsletter that Maine’s First Ship will “memorialize the efforts of those who built Virginia, the first English ship built in North America to cross the Atlantic.  “Maine’s First Ship will also be honoring Maine’s tradition of shipbuilding, with some 4,000 vessels built on the Kennebec alone. When completed, Virginia’s future will include floating classroom cruises and longer passages to historic East Coast shipbuilding sites—possibly even south to Jamestown, Virginia.

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