PMM collection is window on Rockland waterfront

Feb 12, 2018
Penobscot Marine Museum/ Donald L. Merchant Collection Don Merchant, at around age 12, is pictured aboard his sailboat Nabby at launching; Snow's Marine Basin’s Maurice McKusick is in vessel at right in this 1946 image.

Searsport — Penobscot Marine Museum has added more images to its online database. The Donald L. Merchant Collection, which arrived at PMM in 2013, offers a time capsule of Rockland's post-WWII working waterfront, as seen through the eyes of a boy.

Riding bikes with their cameras slung around their necks, Don Merchant and his good friend Maynard Bray prowled Rockland's waterfront. It was booming then with boats of all kinds — some strewn along the shore as derelicts — but most busy and active, draggers especially. The scene changed every day, and from just their mastheads alone, even in the distance, the boys learned to tell which vessels were docked at O'Hara's, General Seafoods, McLoon's or the 40-Fathom wharves.

The majority of the 377 photographs were taken between 1946 and 1949 and chronicle the boys' adventures around Cooper's Beach, Snow's Marine Basin and Lermond's Cove. Merchant's interest in picture taking came from his stepfather, Sid Cullen, who was The Courier-Gazette's staff photographer, reporter, editor and, ultimately, publisher.

Boats became Merchant's passion, and he went on to make a career of things maritime including shipping as an engineer (worldwide with Isthmian Lines, then locally with the Maine State Ferry Service) after his Maine Maritime Academy education, followed by establishing with his wife, Sally, Merchant's Landing on Spruce Head Island.

Penobscot Marine Museum has one of the largest archives of historical photographs in Maine, which can be perused at penobscotmarinemuseum.org/photography.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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