Bath museum completes 'evocation' of largest wooden ship ever built in U.S.

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BATH — Looming on the banks of the Kennebec River, six masts reach 120 feet into the sky to remind observers of the magnitude of the ship built there more than a century ago.

The recently erected structures are part of Maine Maritime Museum’s sculptural “evocation” of the schooner Wyoming, which the museum says was the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built in the U.S.

The masts join bow and stern pieces previously placed on the museum’s Washington Street campus.

A dedication ceremony and other events will be held Saturday, June 1. They will be open to the public, with free admission offered that day to the museum, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

The sculpture is “not meant to exactly replicate the ship; it is meant to evoke the size and scale of the ship, so people could really appreciate (it),” Amy Lent, the museum’s executive director, said Monday.

“I think people who live here take for granted, sometimes, the magnitude of what kind of ship-building went on,” she said.

The Wyoming was built over nine months in 1909 by the Percy & Small Shipyard, on the site where the life-sized evocation now stands. It cost nearly $165,000 to build, carried cargo to Europe in World War I, and was lost in a winter storm off Nantucket in 1924, according to the museum.

The ship’s principal investors were businessmen and ranchers from Wyoming, hence the vessel’s name.

The evocation is New England’s largest outdoor sculpture, spanning almost 450 feet, according to the museum. Its design was conceived by Maine sculptors Andreas von Heune and Joe Hemes.

The structure has benefitted from contributed funds. The bow and stern, completed in 2006, cost $1.2 million, while the masts were about $800,000, Lent said, noting that “this project is essentially complete.”

Log onto mainemaritimemuseum.org or call 443-1316 for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Six 120-foot-tall masts are new to Maine Maritime Museum’s sculptural evocation of the 1909 schooner Wyoming, said to be the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built in the U.S.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.