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[p. 44] the ship would begin to move, at first as slow as the hour hand of a clock, but faster and faster till the final dive. The construction of a ship's frame required an immense amount of timber, enough, it was said, to fill another ship of the same size. An oak log too crooked to be worked into it could hardly be found. Almost the only square or straight timbers used were the keel which lay beneath the ribs and the keelson which lay inside the ship and above the keel to which it was firmly bolted. A rib usually consisted of six pieces firmly bolted together, and its shape depended upon the place it was to occupy. Sometimes the timbers were hewn in the forest where the trees were felled, but usually the hewing was done in the yard where the ship was being built. In this process the cubical contents of the logs were greatly diminished (in some cases by more than one half), and as in the cutting of diamonds, a large percentage of the gems takes the form of chips and dust, which still have a value, so the fragments of the hewn timbers, which thus became abundant, were distributed through the town to purchasers who paid for them, according to the amount of solid wood, at the rate of $1.75 to $2.25 per load of nearly half a cord. The workmen in the shipyards usually numbered about two hundred and fifty, and sometimes more. The taking of shad and alewives for a brief period in spring had long been a profitable industry, and though its value had greatly diminished before 1847, yet in that year $253 were paid to the town for the privilege of capturing them. On certain days in the week nets were stretched across the river at convenient places, and on being drawn to the shore, would often contain a cartload or more of the treasure. Messrs. Waterman and Litchfield were doing an extensive business in the manufacture of doors, blinds, sashes, etc., on what is now Swan street. Robert Bacon had a factory at Baconville (in northwest Medford) in which he made hat bodies, feltings, etc.
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