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A Brief History of the Katahdin on Moosehead LakeBack to History
The first Katahdin, a wooden hulled vessel, began steaming the waters of Moosehead Lake during the summer of 1896. While towing a raft af logs near Sand Bar Island, the Kate's steam engines caught fire on May 13, 1913. Work on a replacement steamer began almost immediately.
Hull # 63 was built for the Coburn Steamboat Company by Bath Iron Works and was shipped to Greenville in sections by railroad. The hull was assembled at the Coburn Steamboat Company's shipyard on Moosehead Lake. The superstructure was built at the shipyard by Charles Harrington of Bath who also helped build the first Katahdin.
The second Katahdin is 115 feet in length, 26 feet at the beam, and draws seven and a half feet of water. She was registered for 500 passengers and weighs 250 tons. The launching took place on August 20, 1914 as the Kate was towed into Moosehead by the steamer Moosehead.
The Kate would haul booms of more than 6,000 logs in the spring, then serve as a passenger vessel from June through the end of summer. Most of the passengers were guests travelling from Greenville to Mount Kineo. She was later converted to be powered by Fairbank Morse diesel engines. The Katahdin was later modified to haul pulpwood. When Scott Paper Co. bought the Kate, her engines were replaced. The Kate hauled 6,000 cords of pulpwood in the historic "Last Log Drive" on July 12, 1975.
In 1977, the vessel was given to Moosehead Marine Museum Inc., a 501 c (3) non-profit coporation. Originally thought to be salvageable only as a static beached artifact, the board discovered the possibility of restoring the vessel to operating condition. This added a whole new cost dimension to the project which in addition to restoration demanded a waterfront location. Louis Hilton, the vessel's primary benefactor, leased in-town property owned by him to the museum on a long-term basis giving the project a prime visibility. She began sailing as a cruise vessel in 1985 on a regular schedule.
It was determined in 1993 that given the condition of the steel hull, she would to be pulled and out of service while funds were accumulated for complete restoration. Betty Noycem, the Maine philanthropist, and Mr. Hilton seeded a $500,000 campaign for restoration by donating half the sum. Three years into the project, the job is 90% complete. she raised vertically at her berth downtown in 1994 in winter while the Bath Iron Works replated the hull. It was not necessary to take the vessel out of service at all.
The museum seeks members, those interested in marine preservation. Membership is $20 per individual, $30 for families and $150 for plank ownership. Plank owners receive an a metal paperweight as a token of the gift embossed with a sculpture of the Katahdin and their names are placed on a plaque aboard the boat.
For cruising and membership information contact:
Paraphrased from KINEO: Splendor and Silence a book by Durward J. Ferland, Jr.Back to History
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