Constructed in 1894, the schooner Effie M. Morrissey set sail from the James & Tarr Shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts. The ship’s original assignment was that of a fishing vessel – in fact, it’s rumored that during her first fishing trip, she caught enough Cod to pay for her entire construction.
Over the next 120 years, the ship saw parts of the world that only existed in most people’s imagination. In the 1920’s she set sail for the Arctic and conducted annual expeditions from the northeastern United States up into regions north of Canada, Greenland, and Siberia. Not only that, but the ship’s crew included film producers that shot some of the first exploratory footage of the far north. In 1940, the Morrissey (as she had been renamed) made it to her most northern point ever – 635 miles from the North Pole.
During World War II, the ship served as a Navy and Army vessel for the USA, resupplying weather stations in Greenland and helping in the construction of air bases in the Canadian Arctic.
Between 1949 and 1963, the Ernestina (third name) became a merchant ship, making transatlantic trips between Rhode Island and the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. In 1994, Massachusetts Governor William Weld designated her the Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and commissioned her for a decade of educational activities.
So where does Steve Cross come in? In 2014, the ship is renamed the Ernestina-Morrissey and towed to the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for total restoration (for at least the third time in her life). As for one of the main materials used in her reconstruction, Steve’s supply of Southern Live Oak was a key component.
“Southern Live Oak cant be beat, I don’t think, for frame stock in a wooden ship.” — Eric Graves, Vice President of the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard
Tune in to episode 3 of “The World According to Steve” and hear how southwest Georgia sawmiller and historian Steve Cross (and his supply of Southern Live Oak) played another essential role in the reconstruction of one of America’s most historic and significant ships.
To read more about the ship’s history and to follow her reconstruction’s progress, visit www.ernestina.org.