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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Commodore Morris: Last Whaling Ship to Leave Falmouth

This week the Museums on the Green, part of the Falmouth Historical Society, opened to the public for the summer.  Their theme for this year's exhibit is "World War II," and with Camp Edwards in nearby Bourne, there are many interesting photos, letters, and artifacts to browse. The main exhibit room is painted a bright yellow, as befitting the 1940's esthetics, and lends a cheerful tone to the photos of smiling soldiers and hand-penned letters to loved ones at home.

Of course, I wandered over to the whaling exhibits.  My favorite "exhibit" is the outline of the hull of the "Commodore Morris" and one of its long boats,  spray painted on the lawn between the historic society's buildings and their beautiful garden.   Click all photos for larger image.

outline of whaleboat next to hull of Commodore Morris

Gardens at the Falmouth Historical Society

Bowsprit of the Commodore Morris on lawn

It is difficult to portray the size and scope of this whaling ship in a series of small pictures, but the entire outline of the hull spanned the full length of the long, rambling Cape Cod building housing the Historical Society.  The accompanying information board shows a slice of the ships interiors and how life was lived aboard a whaling ship such as the "Commodore Morris," on a typical whaling trip.

Bird's eye view of a typical whaling ship.

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"Port side" of the Commodore Morris, alongside the historical society buildings.

Falmouth has a proud whaling history.  The "Commodore Morris" was the last whaling ship to make a trip out of its home port of Falmouth.  She returned in 1864, and was sold in New Bedford the following year.

Captain Elijah Swift*

Commodore Morris under sail**

When speaking of Falmouth's whaling trade, it must be clarified that no harbor in Falmouth was deep enough for these larger ships. Woods Hole, a part of Falmouth, had the working harbor, back in the 1800's.  Most ships arrived and departed from Woods Hole.  Other whaling ships crewed by Falmouth mariners left from neighboring New Bedford.

Elijah Swift and his son Oliver Cromwell Swift were prominent sea captains holding interests in a number of whaling ships.  You will hear about Captain Swift in future maritime posts, here at AncestryInk.

*BW Photo of Elijah Swift:From
Spritsail: A Journal of the History of Falmouth and Vicinity
, Vol. 12, No. 1. Winter, 1998. Woods Hole
Historical Collection, Woods Hole, MA
**BW Photo of E.F. Lincoln's painting of the Commodore Morris:
Commodore Morris, whaling ship built at Bar Neck Wharf, Woods Hole in 1841. Painting by E.F. Lincoln. Falmouth sign andcarriage painter. Photo by Kathy Frisbee. Courtesy Falmouth Historical Society.1*

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