African American History Culture : Slave Canoe

Discussion in 'African American History Culture' started by dustyelbow, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    170-year-old La Trappe Canoe finds new home

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    Meghan Shapiro, The Examiner
    Jun 14, 2006 7:00 AM (9 days ago)
    BALTIMORE - Imagine being a slave during the 1800s, separated from your family and having to walk 12 miles, each way, to visit at night. That was not an unusual endeavor during that period.

    According to Dianne Swann-Wright, museum curator at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, many slave narratives referred to their use of canoes as transportation, especially that of Douglass, who was born in Talbot County.

    She said that most black slaves were seamen, and in Maryland they were always very close to the water.

    The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum donated the La Trappe Canoe, a 170 -year-old slave canoe found in Martin Point, Talbot County, to the Douglass-Myers Maritime Park in order to work together with the Living Classrooms Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the enrichment of at-risk youth.

    In 1993, CBMM excavated the canoe and it took 10 years to restore the boat to what Wellman said is 90 percent of its original state.

    “So much of the boat deteriorated,” said Steven Pratt, a Maryland Archeological Conservatory lab volunteer, referring to La Trappe Canoe.

    Howard Wellman of the Maryland Archeological Conservatory says that signs show that this canoe was built, and used, by slaves.

    It is made of yellow pine and held together by Fiberglas pins and ribs. It is 17 feet long and can hold three to four people.

    Canoes made during this time period were generally made by Native Americans, blacks and Europeans, and Wellman said the tools found inside of the canoe when discovered leads them to believe this was a slave boat.

    “What we’re hoping is that we will be able to preserve artifacts and preserve stories that have been lost,” Swann-Wright said on Tuesday when the canoe arrived at the museum.

    For now, the canoe sits on a steel bar, weighing 1,100 pounds on the second floor of the new sugar warehouse and awaits its environment-controlled glass case.

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    The La Trappe Canoe is revealed to the press as it is being delivered to the Frederick Douglas- Isaac Myers Maritime Park. The 170-year-old yellow pine hand-carved canoe, discovered by a hiker in the marshes at Martin Point in Talbot County, will be displayed at the Maritime Park.
  2. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    Historic Slave Canoe Arrives in Baltimore
    by Nakia Herring
    Baltimore Times
    Originally posted 6/16/2006

    Restoration process took over 10 years

    On June 28, 2006, the Baltimore community and tourists from all over will be able to visit the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, located at 1417 Thames Street. The Maritime Park will honor Frederick Douglass, Issac Myers and other local African-American leaders who overcame adversity to empower others.

    The Douglass-Myers Maritime Park is a cornerstone of the National Historic Seaport of Baltimore and a major African-American heritage tourism site honoring Maryland's African-American Maritime history and shipbuilding tradition.

    On June 13, 2006 a very significant artifact was delivered to the park. After almost 10 years of restoration, the La Trappe Canoe, a 170 year-old yellow pine hand-carved canoe, will be one of the many centerpieces that will grace the Douglass-Myers Maritime Park on its second floor.

    “Our movers went down to Talbot County to get the canoe. They made a special crate for it, and it spent the night in an air-conditioned warehouse. Then they brought it to Baltimore,” says Dianne Swann-Wright, curator, Frederick Douglass-Issac Myers Maritime Park.

    The La Trappe Canoe was discovered by Alan Sleeper, half-buried, half-exposed in the marshes of Martin Point in Talbot County. It was excavated in 1993 by the Maryland Historical Trust archeologists and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

    Swann-Wright says that you can tell African Americans built the canoe, because of how it was built.

    “There are basically three types of canoes that we found archeologically. One was by Native Americans. Native Americans often burned out canoes. African Americans follow African and American tradition, they used tools that were available. They would hollow or dig out the inside of the canoe. Europeans made canoes, but they had more resources. Their canoes were more refined,” she said.

    “If you were to look at this canoe systematically, it is very much like the canoes that were found in North Carolina. They were made by African Americans enslaved and free,” says Swann-Wright.

    Canoes were constructed using: log saws, broad axe, chisels, adzes and draw knifes. Broad axe and chisel tool marks were found on the La Trappe canoe.

    Swann-Wright says that Frederick Douglass would talk about how people got around on canoes. He also mentioned how his mother would walk every night to see him, and if someone had a canoe the journey would have been shorter.

    “This place will highlight for us the African-American tradition and connection to the maritime art for African Americans, not just in Maryland, but all over. We are going to extend that story by talking about the first black-owned and run shipyard in the nation. Also, how blacks who lived in Baltimore, Fells Point, East Baltimore came to the shipyard to work and earned enough money to support their families and help their communities,” she says.

    “What we are hoping to do is preserve artifacts that people want to see, reclaim stories that have been lost, and hope that this place will be so interesting, that people won't be able to stay away. It is full of really good stories, and everybody likes stories, especially if they are true,” says Swann-Wright.

    The restored canoe, which is 17ft long, can hold between three and four people. It will be kept in a controlled glass case in the Sugar Warehouse, the oldest remaining industrial building on Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

    The $14 million Frederick Douglass-Issac Myers Maritime Park was funded by state, local and federal money, plus there were some very significant private donations. The Park is apart of the Living Classrooms Foundation and the National Historic Seaport.

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