Restoring Edna E. Lockwood – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, based in St. Michaels, MD, USA, has a major restoration project underway reports Kristen L. Greenaway, President of the Museum.

Edna E. Lockwood

Launched in 1889 by John B. Harrison into the waters of Harris Creek on Tilghman Island, Edna E. Lockwood was the quintessential oyster dredging vessel on the Chesapeake Bay. Edna was built with indigenous Chesapeake Bay log construction techniques. Her lower hull was hewn from nine logs, squared up and joined side-to side by iron drifts. Under a succession of owners, she worked the Bay’s oyster bars for 78 years, the last bugeye to do so.

Purchased by John R. Kimberly in 1967, the 'bugeye' was loaned as a floating exhibition to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for a number of years until she was gifted in 1973. With a deteriorating deck and topsides, the Museum rebuilt the vessel in 1976-79, relaunching her and returning her to sailing condition.

Edna after first restoration by the Museum

In 1989, she cruised around the Chesapeake Bay for her centennial, visiting five other ports around Maryland; then-Governor Schaefer proclaimed 1989 the ‘Year of the Bugeye’ in her honor. In 1994, as the last log-bottom bugeye still under sail, Edna E. Lockwood was designated a National Historic Landmark.  

The Edna Lockwood restoration project now has its own website  

The search for logs

After a two-year search, history was made on March 5, 2016, with the delivery of the 16 loblolly pine logs needed for the restoration of the nine-log bottom hull of the Edna E. Lockwood. Many thanks to Paul M. Jones Lumber Co. of Snow Hill, MD for their very generous donation of the logs, at a value of $25,000. Johnson Lumber of Easton, Md. delivered the 16 loblolly pine logs, averaging 55-feet in length with a 10-foot circumference. Museum visitors can see the logs lying in the water. At 15-20,000 lbs weight a-piece, they truly are a sight to behold. The logs are about 125 years old, so they were saplings when Edna was originally built in 1889 on Tilghman Island. Photos of the log delivery can be found at this link.

The first of the 16 logs being delivered at the Museum

Preservation symposium

On March 10-11, 2016, the Museum hosted a symposium of historic vessel preservation experts, allowing a detailed examination of proposed procedures and recommendations for the restoration of Edna. Symposium experts were:

• John Brady, President, Independence Seaport Museum

• Todd Croteau, Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service

• Richard Dodds, Curator of Maritime History, Calvert Marine Museum

• John England, Head Shipwright, Deltaville Maritime Museum

• Quentin Snediker, Shipyard Director, Mystic Seaport Museum

• George Surgent, Head Shipwright, Calvert Marine Museum

The group was introduced to the existing documentation, and went physically over the boat in detail. On Day-2, boatyard staff joined the consultants for a nine-person panel with a public audience of 56 people. Videographer Sandy Cannon-Brown was present to record the proceedings. We asked a set of prepared questions first to the panel and then to the public participants and received substantial and meaningful input.

The principal take-aways from the forum were:

• Fundamentally, the Museum’s approach of assembling new logs separately, cutting the bottom off the existing boat, and marrying new with existing, is sound. This approach has a number of advantages: it maintains the historic continuity of the boat, as recognized in historic preservation best practice, so that even with 100% material replacement, we still have the historic vessel (as identified by Snediker). By assembling the new logs separately (as opposed to a piece-by-piece replacement), original fastening techniques can be replicated (as pointed out by Michael Gorman (Manager CBMM Boatyard) and vetted by others). And this approach also allows us to save a significant part of the historic material in an intact and recognizable form--something that is rarely accomplished in historic vessel preservation projects, unless the old vessel is mothballed to an interior space and replicated afloat.

• We were encouraged to make use of traditional sealants—raw linseed oil, turpentine, red lead—and to avoid epoxies and plastics.

• We heard an extensive discussion on fasteners, which steered us away from steel and toward a combination of bronze and locust or Osage treenails.

• We have unanimous support for attempting to remove the hog (drooping of the ends), but it comes with a number of cautions about how to adequately plan for this, which will mean a bit more with adjusting the HAER drawings and problem-solving with how the old is married to the new.

• The interior of the vessel provides little opportunity for interpretation, so the guiding principle should be to maximize air circulation below decks, an important factor in long-term preservation.

• We seemed to arrive at a consensus to select a mid-20th century date for the restoration period; that is, when the project is completed, Edna should appear much as she did at the end of her oyster dredging days, and that date should guide decisions about what to include when there are possible options.

Edna on the hard, ready for restoration

Future plans

The Museum’s plans for Edna through September 2016—before we start work on the logs—have taken an interesting turn. She was to be put back in the water, to clear the railway for Winnie Estelle to be prepped for her annual Coast Guard inspection. Unfortunately, one of Edna’s logs has rotted out and she’ll need to stay dry. This meant commissioning a 100 ton crane to remove her masts and lift her parallel to the waterfront container that is acting as her workshop. We’ll make this work on our behalf, as we plan to build access steps up to Edna’s deck, and from the deck visitors will be able t o see the logs being worked on. A film of her being moved can be found here

After relaunching Edna late October 2018, we’re planning a 2019 six-month tour for the newly restored bugeye around the Chesapeake Bay. We are currently strategizing on extending this concept for other boats in the museum’s floating fleet collection, such as Rosie Parks, Winnie Estelle, and Delaware, as a way to educate visitors by visiting targeted Bay-related museums and organizations, with an educator – a teacher on summer break, for example – on board.

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