109-YEAR-OLD BOAT RESUMES CRUISES OF MYSTIC RIVER
A 109-year-old coal-fired steamboat returned to cruising the Mystic River after a more than twoyear restoration project.
The Sabino, billed by Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport maritime museum as the nation’s oldest coal-fired steamboat in regular operation, resumed public cruises Wednesday from the maritime museum.
The 57-foot steamboat, which was designated a national historic landmark in 1992, was built in 1908 in East Boothbay, Maine, and spent most of its career ferrying passengers and cargo between the mainland and islands off Maine’s coast.
The maritime museum bought and restored the wooden-hulled vessel in 1973, and has used it as a working exhibit since then, providing daily tourist cruises up and down the river during the summer and early fall.
“To feel the moist heat on your face as you are approaching the engine, to smell the coal fire and feel the relatively quiet smooth operation of the original steam engine is exciting,” said Quentin Snediker, the director of the museum’s preservation shipyard. “You’re moving a vessel that weighs 50 tons, just with heat and water. It’s quite a sensory experience.”
The more than $1.1 million restoration was paid for with public and private grant money, including $172,125 from the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office, $149,318 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and a National Maritime Heritage Grant of $199,806.