By Steamship to a Coastline “So Rugged and So Beautiful”

“Delightful Sea Trips Near Home”

The steamer left Foster’s Wharf at five o’clock in the evening. On board were Emilie and Victor Loring, their sons, Robert and Selden, and their “maid-of-all-work,” Marion Lynch.

After two preliminary trips to place furniture and see that Stone House was in working order, the whole family was coming this time. The year was 1910, their first, full summer in Blue Hill.

They boarded either the S.S. Belfast or the S.S. Camden. The trip “downeast” was an overnighter, made comfortable with well-appointed staterooms, a splendid dining saloon, and spacious lounging and promenade decks. Tickets cost $4 one way, $7.50 round trip.

In their stateroom was a tour guide kindly provided by the steamship company. I found this part pretty amazing:

“Geographers tell us ‘that the coast of Maine, if measured in a direct line, would be only 225 miles long; yet, such is its irregularity and indentation, that the shore line comprises more than 2,486 miles of seacoast,’ which is a greater extent than that of any other ocean-bordering state either on the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Gulf of Mexico.”

1910 brochure, Eastern Steamship Company

“It is difficult to imagine, much more so to describe, a sea shore region of such vast extent, where the coast line is so rugged and so beautiful, where the islands are almost infinite in their number, size and variety, and where the numerous bays are veritable archipelagos. From Portland to Eastport, there is no spot on the Maine coast that is uninteresting, none that is unimportant from the viewpoint of the summer tourist.”

1910 brochure, Eastern Steamship Company

The sun set, the moon rose, and the Lorings slept…

They docked in Rockland at 4:00 the next morning, a time “when the average tourist feels like keeping close to a comfortable stateroom.” (Boston Evening Transcript, 1910). They had just one hour to disembark, make their way to the Blue Hill Line, and board the boat that would take them to North Haven, Stonington, South Blue Hill, and, finally, Blue Hill. They were underway by 5:15.

They now traveled on the S.S. Boothbay, a smaller steamer with fewer amenities. Size was important, because there was little room to maneuver in Blue Hill’s inner bay. The steamer had to back out, avoiding rocks, sand bars, and lobster pots, until it got into wider waters to turn around.

The “Boothbay” was a Blue Hill fixture. It arrived six days per week throughout the summer, blowing its horn to announce the arrival of friends, relatives, and supplies to the small, coastal community. The Lorings took this photo of it from their shore:

S. S. Boothbay, Loring photo
Steamship Wharf, Blue Hill, Maine (postcard)

The Lorings disembarked and loaded their belongings and themselves into an awaiting carriage that took them the mile-plus to Stone House. (This postcard is a little later, when cars had replaced carriages, but what a great view of the wharf!) They bought supplies at Merrill & Hinckley’s store and celebrated the Fourth of July on their stone veranda, overlooking Blue Hill Bay. (If you had to bet, what color would you say those awning stripes were?)

Stone House veranda

It was the first of many summers in Blue Hill, one year before Emilie Loring began her long and spectacularly successful writing career. A coincidence?

The Eastern Steamship Company brochure concluded:

“We will begin to believe that all the world comes to the coast of Maine in summer, we will know the reason why, and we will agree with the poet Whittier where he says:

'They seek for happier shores in vain
Who leave the summer isles of Maine.'"
Happy landings!

9 thoughts on “By Steamship to a Coastline “So Rugged and So Beautiful”

  1. Wonderful! I was captivated by the journey you have described here. Your research and presentation are outstanding, Patti. Thank you for this charming diversion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Beverly. It was fun to research, and when resources from 1910 fell into place, I had the opportunity to imagine it with some hope of approximating her experience. I nearly ordered some of that china from Etsy, but my reason scout was on the job and advised otherwise. I did enjoy a hot cup of tea, as I’m sure she would have. 😊


  2. Aloha! Thank you for sharing that history. I grew up in Hawaii and always enjoyed seeing old photos of the ships coming in to Honolulu. My father used to take us down to the wharf to see the ships come in, in early 1960s. It was still amazing. I recall watching young men dive into the clear waters of the harbor to retrieve silver dollars the tourists threw in. It was entertainment. The silver would sparkle and we could see them under water next to the ship. Today, the waters are murky. So I’m very glad to have that memory. You always share such good history surrounding Emily, that I thank you once again for a glimpse into the past. Looking forward to your book. Wishing you great success, aloha, pam

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

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