The Charles W. Morgan
One of New Bedford's most famous whalers built in 1841 was once owned by one of the richest women in the world.
Hetty Green, heiress to the Howland whaling fortune was worth over 100 million in the late 1800's. A recluse dowager who's worth would be in the billions today squandered her money and led a bizarre life.
Hetty Green's shrewd investments in the stock market reached legendary heights and the Wall Street signs in New York has her silhouette emblazoned on them to this day. Her children were neglected and were not given proper medical attention because of the expense.*
*Some historians dispute this claim.
Her son, E.H.R."Ned" Green so badly in need of a doctor's medical attention eventually became crippled due to his mother's penchant for hoarding money at any cost. When she died, her son inherited her estate,becoming one of the richest and most eccentric men in the world. He was the epitome on just how far one could go with a "blank-check".
(above) The Charles W. Morgan being pushed by tug to a mooring at Pier 3 in New Bedford
Years after the whaling industry succumbed to a new fuel source - oil, whale ships were left derelict at their moorings or broken up.
The Charles W. Morgan, considered the flag ship of New Bedford - a city known at the time as The Whaling Capitol of The World was one of the only few square rigged whalers left and she too lay deteriorating at the Union Wharf in Fairhaven, MA. (below)
(above) The Charles W. Morgan tied up at The Union Wharf in Fairhaven was badly scorched on her port side as a ferry boat burned to its water line and drifted up against the vulnerable whaler in 1924. The vessel was saved from being destroyed by the Fairhaven Fire Dept.
SANKATY AGROUND IN FOG 1917 (left)
The Sankaty served the islands and New Bedford from 1911 to 1924. The "new" propeller driven ship replaced the old side-wheeler ferries at the time.
In February of 1917 - the ferry ran aground in the fog and iced Buzzards Bay. 4 passengers and 80 barrels of clams were on board. The ship was repaired and went back into service until June 30, 1924 when it caught ...fire at Pier 3.
Read full story below.
The Sankaty was rebuilt and saw service in WWII and continued as a passenger ferry, serving Rockland Maine to Long Island Sound. It ran aground again off Nova Scotia in 1964 and was scrapped for good.
THE CHARLES W. MORGAN SAVED BY The Fairhaven Fire Department - On June 30, 1924 a huge pier fire lit the skies of New Bedford harbor. Bales of hay, full barrels of kerosene, and other goods bound for the islands from the Steamship Dock near Pier 3 provided the fuel for a fire that ravaged out of control. (right middle inset)This dockside conflagration lit the hazy summer night sky. The blaze glowed for dozens of miles away. Onlookers watched along the shores of Fairhaven and New Bedford. The fire burned off the lines to the steamer "Sankaty" and the ship eventually caught fire. Fully involved, it drifted into the middle of the harbor. It was like a giant floating fire ball drifting slowly towards Fairhaven and eventually along side the Charles W. Morgan, that was tied up at Fairhaven Union Wharf (upper right inset). The Morgan's port side began to get scorched by the intense fire. Smoke and steam began to consume the historic whale ship. Through the heroic efforts of The Fairhaven Fire Department (lower right inset c1920) the Charles W. Morgan (center oval inset) was saved. Story compiled from recollections of the late Fire Chief Lindsay Gifford who was there.
ML's Note: The Charles W. Morgan was later restored in the late 1920's and was on display at The Col EHR Green Estate at Round Hill, South Dartmouth. After the death of the Col in 1936 the Charles Morgan became neglected and soon was badly damaged in The 1938 Hurricane. It was later acquired by The Mystic Seaport Museum and towed away in 1941 to it's present berth where it remains on display today as America's only remaining square rigged whale ship.
A fantastic return home of the Morgan in 2014 - however brief - brought excitement to onlookers and visitors of New Bedford's true flagship as it entered the harbor for the first time in 73 years.
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Col E.H.R. Green acquired his late mother's ship and carefully restored it back to its original condition and moored the vessel at his vast estate at Round Hill, South Dartmouth, MA as a popular floating museum in the mid 1920's.
This rare film shows the Charles W. Morgan (above) being towed into place. One of the last surviving whaling skippers at the time Capt George Fred Tilton (right) greets a friend at the bow of the ship and instructs a young boy (below) on the theory of sailing with a little carved wooden toy sailboat.
The Charles W. Morgan was fully restored. (below)
(The painted gun ports were not a feature when the Morgan was in service as a whaler.) This carefully documented and choreographed film depicts the arrival of the famous Col E.H.R.Green in his well known custom built - chouffer driven electric car.(below)
A stunning close-up of the Colonel all smiles and a car full of pipe smoke greets his guests.
His demeanor didn't show a man who grew up in unnecessary poverty and neglect, but a jovial happy man now enjoying a spending spree of epic proportions at his vast playground-enclave. (above)
At the clips end - The Charles W. Morgan was lit up from lights used from the Colonels nearby airport - which had the first illuminated airport in the country. (below)
(Above) Two ships at Round Hill, South Dartmouth, MA 1933
The "Charles W. Morgan" and the Goodyear Blimp "Mayflower" are seen together in this rare photo taken at the Col Green Estate c1933. Round Hill Airport had some of the most exotic aircraft of the time come and go from the airstrips. the "Mayflower" had its own large hanger were the airship was stored and serviced. More rare photos are being processed an will be added to this page soon. From The MLBaron Historic Archives.
From the site where aircraft from around the world landed there, to the splitting of the Atom for the first time by MIT scientists, this brief moment of exciting times came to end with the passing of Col E.H.R.Green in 1936 at 67yrs old.
Vintage 1927 Postcard of The Charles W. Morgan of "Whaling Enshrined" at Round Hill (above)
The now neglected Morgan was aging quickly and was battered by The Hurricane of 1938. It was once said that those who could afford to maintain it as a floating whaling museum didn't care, and to those who did couldn't afford to do so.
STAMP OF APPROVAL - The Charles W. Morgan was saved by The Fairhaven Fire Department from burning to the water-line at Union Wharf in 1924 (lower right) when the ferry Sankaty drifted across from the New Bedford side of the harbor fully ablaze "in one of the most spectacular waterfront fires in New Bedford history." It went along side the whaler and badly scorched the port side.
Ar...ound this time, the fate of the vessel built in 1841 looked bleak despite being saved. Those with bright ideas for the ship didn't have the cash to make it happen. Times were tough and they were about to get worse with The Crash of 1929 around the bend. Then a miracle - Col E.H.R. Green (upper left) heir to the multi-million dollar fortune of his mother Hetty Green - who's company once owned the Charles W Morgan - obtained the tired old whaler around 1925, had it restored and created Whaling Enshrined at Round Hill, MA (upper right inset).
*ML's Note: The Skipper Restaurant (lower left c1939) was even talked about with having the CWMorgan as a floating museum there after the passing of Col Green with a badly damaged Morgan after The '38 hurricane, having to find a new home when the estate was broken up. These plans fell through and the Charles W. Morgan was towed to Mystic in 1941 where she remains today.
The commemorative stamp (top center) was part of many souvenirs created at the time which included coins, pamphlets and movie films
NEW BEDFORD'S FLAGSHIP LEFT IN DISGRACE - The Charles W. Morgan under tow from Union Wharf in Fairhaven, November 30, 1941. The once prized piece of Whaling Enshrined, the retired whaler spent her last days fully restored at Col. Green's Estate at Round Hill in South Dartmouth. This was one of his mother's ships after all. After the Colonel's death in 1936, the ship became neglected and soon was battered by the '38 Hurricane. Locals exchanged ideas and plan to place the ship ...back in New Bedford as a floating museum. One idea included the ship on display at The Skipper in Fairhaven. It has been said, that those that could afford to keep her didn't care, and those that did, couldn't afford it. Ironically, the fate of the decaying whaleship was tied back to Union Wharf in Fairhaven where it was almost lost in a fire in 1924. After a series of negotiations and effort, the whaler was acquired by Mystic Seaport and towed away by the USCGC ARGO from Union Wharf (upper right) on November 30, 1941. The honorary helmsman was Everett S. Allen of The Standard-Times. Three letter signal flags displayed on the starboard yard arm stood for C.W.M, the Morgan's initials, they also meant "traveling without cargo". *ML's Note: It is possible that this tow may have been delayed or stopped altogether as the bombing of Pearl Harbor was just 7 days away, plunging the US into WWII. Compiled by MLBaron
Remains of the main Round Hill estate have been converted to high end luxury condominium's.
Vintage 1927 Postcard of The Colonel EHR Green Estate at Round Hill, Dartmouth, MA (above)
The original corroded film was painstakingly restored and saved by The MLBaron Historic Archives.
September 3, 2013
SOUTH DARTMOUTH: A mysterious wooden structure discovered in South Dartmouth, MA has been identified through researching the photo library of The MLBaron Historic Archives.
Below is the original email sent to me asking if I could be of assistance in identifying this wooden structure:
I see you've done extensive research into the Charles W. Morgan which once stood proud at Round Hill in South Dartmouth.
During the early 90s, my ex-husband and I bought the old caretaker's cottage at Round Hill, which we later sold as part of a divorce settlement in the early 2000s
In 2009, my kids and I went back to Round Hill, where I took some digital pictures of the remains of what looks to be an old boat. I remember when we owned our summer place, we would hear stories of it being part of the C.W. Morgan. Was this fact of fiction? I'm including pictures with this email and would appreciate any info you might have! These old remains are located along the road to the South (swimming) Beach, adjacent to the Golf Course.
Our research results and reply:
That is the replica section of a whale ship that was on display complete with mast on the south side as you refer to. It was a partial hull section showing the mechanics of the rigging and whaling gear. The brick work was the try-works area where the whale blubber was boiled into whale oil. The display was part of Col. Green's Museum - Whaling Enshrined.
The land-based exhibit was a few hundred feet away from The Charles W. Morgan. See hull section in photo (above) as it once looked upper right in the attached photo c1931 on the grounds at Round Hill where it remains in the same location today. Hope this was of help to you. Let me know your thoughts. You provided great photos - hopefully the discovered structure can be preserved somehow!
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