Herbert W. Barbour opened his New Bern, North Carolina, boatyard on the Trent River in 1933, building and repairing small commercial vessels. It was a modest operation, catering to the local fishing fleet and harbor craft. Few could have foretold that decades later Barbour and his company would be hailed as a “vital force” that was “important to the economic landscape of coastal North Carolina.”
This tranquil scene of an icebreaker leaving harbor belies the fact that from December until spring, ice owns the Great Lakes. In 2015, more than 80 percent of the surface water was frozen; Lake Erie was 94 percent covered in March. In 2013-14, there was ice on Lake Superior into June.
It started like a biblical plague. Insects and snakes came down the trembling, smoking flanks of Martinique’s volcanic Mount Pelée in the spring of 1902, sweeping over farmers’ fields, infesting villages, attacking livestock. Deadly pit vipers wriggled in the streets of Saint-Pierre, known as the “Paris of the West Indies,” a glittering island city of 30,000 people. Soldiers were assigned to shoot the snakes on sight.
Imagine driving the runabout pictured here from New York to Florida. In 1930. That’s exactly what Frank Morley did. The adventurous college student from Mount Dora, Florida, took just over 14 days to complete the passage. And he set a speed record — yes, a speed record — in doing so.
The Great Eastern. There was nothing like her in the world. Launched in 1858, she was 692 feet and had a gross tonnage of 18,915 — the largest vessel of her day. Five engines generated 8,000 horses, driving her at 14 knots. Propulsion was by side paddles (56 feet in diameter), a single propeller (24 feet in diameter) and six masts — said to be named Monday through Saturday — that carried 18,150 square feet of sail.
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