Steamship Sabino

Modestly Serving the Community

Original content by: Kate O'Mara

zoomable artifact image here

About This Artifact

Sabino was first built in 1908, but was named Tourist at the time of her launching. Her job was to help transport people along Maine's Damariscotta River. Maine has a coastline that is very jagged:  there are long peninsulas that stretch into the sea, and without bridges it can take a long time to drive, walk, or ride a horse from one place to the next.  Tourist was a wonderful help at the time, regularly moving up and down the river with people and cargo.

Unfortunately, she had an accident in 1918 and sank.  She was still valuable, so she was repaired and renamed Sabino after a nearby hill.  With her new name, Sabino now began work on a different river in Maine - the Kennebec River.

Sabino was built for use on rivers:  she had a relatively shallow hull and a long keel.  In 1927 she was moved to Casco Bay:  a much more wide-open space, with more waves, wind, and tides.  This change in location resulted in the addition of sponsons - which look like pillows on her port (left) and starboard (right) sides and help stabilize the steamer.

Sabino was one of numerous small boats which transported people and cargo along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.  She was run by a two-piston steam-engine that was fired by coal.  This technology was innovative a hundred years earlier, because of its power, but by the 1950s the coal was not as exciting:  it was heavy, dirty, and required more crew.  Boats like Sabino were replaced with diesel powered engines (easy to fuel) and steel-hulled ships.

Today, Sabino is a museum object.  She is well-cared for by experts in maritime history.  She still runs with her two-piston steam engine, and she is still fired by coal.  Now, however, she takes the visitors of Mystic Seaport Museum on lovely cruises along the Mystic River so that they can experience a type of travel that was common in the early 1900s.

Questions for Further Thought

  1. Should museum objects like Sabino be used so that visitors can experience the past, or should they be preserved for the future?
  2. What objects in our lives today were considered "modern" and are now "old-fashioned?" What do these objects tell us about the changes in our society?
  3. How do museums and museum objects like Sabino help us to evaluate the benefits and challenges of science and technological change in the 20th century?