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Mystic and American whaling

Courtesy of Mystic Seaport

Today Mystic holds a very special place in the history of American whaling for one primary reason.  The Mystic Seaport.  Since 1941, the Charles W Morgan, the sole remaining whaling ship from the heyday of the U.S. whaling industry has been housed, maintained and displayed right here on the Mystic River.

In addition to the Morgan itself, the Seaport houses a vast trove of displayed and archived whaling history.  Ship’s logs, diaries, historic documents, scrimshaw, commercial records, photographs, and other professionally curated items. Most importantly, there are highly trained “interpreters” and others that are there to share information on this astounding collection.

From the mid 1700s through the mid 1800s, whaling was a huge industry in New England that served the growing U.S.

At the peak, over 700 ships were involved.  Whale products:  oil for lighting, lubricant, and bone (baleen) were important commercial products in the growing country.  Ultimately the advent of petroleum products, the depleted whale population and other factors decimated the industry.  From that entire industry, there is one remaining classic American whaling ship, The Charles W Morgan.

How important was Mystic as a whaling port itself?  The Mystic Seaport does some amazing analyses, for instance one on the volume of whaling from US ports 1784 to 1928.  The primary centers of whaling activity were New Bedford, Nantucket, and New London, but if you combine the vessels and voyages from Mystic and Stonington, the combined total would be in the top 10 in New England. From a financial and commercial standpoint, ship building was a much more important factor in the maritime history of Mystic.

For a unique walking tour, food tour, historic tour or guided tour of Mystic, Stonington or Noank, please contact [email protected] the founder of Mystic Revealed.