You will see that in the 70 years which covered the life of this industry in Medford
568 vessels were built, with an aggregate of 272,194 tons, and at a cost, as estimated, of $12,500,000. In the later decades of the industry, the size of the vessels very much increased.
In the decade following 1803 the average was 263 tons, and in the last decade it was 860 tons.
From 1850 to 1855 33 vessels were built, of a capacity of more than 1,000 tons each.
This was in the flush times of the California
trade, when the finest clippers that sailed the ocean were Medford-built.
The largest ship ever launched in Medford
was the ‘Ocean Express,’ of 2,000 tons, built by J. O. Curtis
; and ships of more than 1,000 tons were built above, Cradock bridge.
The ship-yards play an important part in the recollections of those who, like me, remember them in the heyday of their prosperity.
They furnished the favorite playgrounds of the boys, and we were never tired of watching the growth of a vessel from the time the keel was laid and the frames uplifted, till the last touch of the ship-joiners was put upon the cabins and state-rooms.
The busy scene was always picturesque, and the multifarious processes of construction to the last degree interesting.
We might have said with Longfellow
, had his lines been written at that time:
what a wondrous thing it is
To note how many wheels of toil
One thought, one word, can set in motion:
There's not a ship that sails the ocean
But every climate, every soil,
Must bring its tribute, great or small,
And help to build the wooden wall!
The schools were sometimes given half-holidays when a great ship was to be launched.
It was thus I witnessed the launch of the ‘St. Petersburg
,’ built by Mr. Magoun
, in 1839.
It was a ship of 828 tons, the largest ship which up to that time had been built in