If you hopped in a time machine and set it to take you back to 1908 on the Damariscotta River in Maine, you might just arrive to witness any number of wooden steamboats steaming upriver with black smoke curling out of their smokestacks. One of those boats could very well have been the ferryboat Sabino. Today she is the oldest wooden, coal-fired steamboat in regular operation in the U.S.
Launched in 1908 in East Boothbay, Maine, Sabino has a long history of service on the waterways around Maine. The boat has been a working exhibit at the of Mystic Seaport Museum, in Mystic, Connecticut since 1974. Unfortunately, the museum a few years ago discovered that Sabino’s old bones needed some TLC. Three years later — thanks to the museum’s crafty shipwrights — Sabino is nearly good as new. The museum reports that the repairs included reframing the stern, replacing the shaft log and keel bolts and installing new planking and decking. Shipwrights also replaced worn frames and restored parts of Sabino’s superstructure.
This video from Mystic Seaport has more:
Steamboats like Sabino provided vital transportation in an era when roads were barely travelable, there were few bridges and public transportation was virtually non-existent. You can see Sabino steaming away on the Mystic River starting Aug. 1.