History of the Charles W. Morgan
The Charles W. Morgan was built at the Jethro and Zachariah
Hillman Yard and launched on July 21, 1841 at New Bedford,
Massachusetts. She was named for her owner Charles W. Morgan one of
the most successful whaling merchants.
For eighty years the "Morgan" plied the seven seas, Arctic,
Antartic, Atlantic, Pacific, Japan, Okhatsk Seas, and Indian Ocean.
She made thirty-seven voyages and her log shows that she covered more
miles in quest of whales than any other whaler ship. Chasing whales
was not the only excitement entered in the log. Mutinies, fire,
hurricanes and being driven ashore all make storybook reading. She
weathered them all.
Her last voyage was in September 1920 which ended in May 1921 when
she returned with seven hundred barrels of whale oil to New Bedford.
The "Morgan" was originally rigged as a ship until 1876 when
her rig was changed to a bark with double topsails. In 1925 she again
was changed back to a ship rig.
Whalers averages between 250 to 400 tons and about 100 feet long
on deck, very bulky, built for seaworthyness and space for large
cargoes of barrels. On the Port side were carried three whaleboats
hung from wooden davits and one or two were carried on the Starboard
side. Amidship on the starboard side was a removable section in the
bulkwarks, called a gangway, used for cutting-in operations. On the
deck just aft of the foremast was an overhead shelter built to
protect the tryworks from stormy weather. The tryworks consisted of a
brick frunace holding two iron trypots each having a capacity of 250
gallons of oil. The base of the furnace was made of crisscrossed
brick through which water flowed so as to keep the deck cool and
prevent fire. A tank on either side of the furnace was secured for
cooling oil. A large skylight near the mizzen mast let light down to
the main cabin. The whaler was a very sturdy built ship to withstand
the strain when cutting in whales and for being at sea for two or
The Charles W. Morgan survives today magnificently restored
for visitors to walk her decks at The Mystic Seaport Museum in
The Charles W. Morgan was built from plans based on the
ships original design. Her hull is accurately carved from select
basswood. Her topsides are painted dull black with white band and
black ports, and the bottom is painted antiqued copper-green to
represent the corrosive action of salt water on the copper bottom.
The masts are white and natural with white spars. The Morgan
is equipped with tryworks, windlass, hatches, skylight, stern deck
house and seven whale boats. The amount of deck and rigging detail
make this model one of our most intricate models. The base is
mahogany with brass finished nameplates on each side of the name
Width of main yard
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