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South Portland in Cumberland County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
 

South Portland and Its Liberty Ships

 
 
South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
1. South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
Inscription.
In the mid-1800s, when South Portland was still a part of Cape Elizabeth, its waterfront appeared to be a continuous line of bustling yards building and repairing ships. From Butler on Turner's Island to Knight and Blanchard in Knightville to Turner and Cahoon, Pickett, and Dyer of Ferry Village, all along the Fore River master craftsmen were producing ships that spread South Portland's name around the world. By the end of the century, with the transition from wooden to steam ships, just a few of South Portland's world-renowned shipyards continued to build ships.

One of those remaining yards, the Cumberland Shipbuilding Company, built wooden cargo ships for World War I on Cushings Point. In 1941, Todd-Bath Iron Shipbuilding Corporation constructed one of the most advanced shipyards in the world on this abandoned Cushings Point site. During World War II, thousands of men and women built 266 emergency cargo vessels - 30 Ocean class ships for Great Britain and 236 Liberty ships for the U.S. - a feat that would ensure South Portland a prominent place in the history of modern shipbuiding.

Maine is a veritable cradle of Americanism. During over three centuries, Maine has been a stronghold of American shipbuilding. Maine ships have sailed the Seven Seas.
William Stark Newell
June 13, 1941

[Photo captions
South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
2. South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
At Liberty Ship Memorial
follow]


1. Detail from the cover of the New England Shipbuilding Corp. Employee Manual c.1943
Courtesy of Maine Historical Society, Raymond Verrier Collection
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During World War I, the Doyen Shipyard in Knightville launched four ships, where Hannaford Bros. supermarket stands today.
Courtesy of Hobbs Funeral Home
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Since 1850, the Portland Shipbuilding Co./Marine Railways has repaired, rebuilt, and constructed steamers, tugs, and trawlers. This prosperous yard completed construction of the steamer Roosevelt for Admiral Robert Peary's arctic expedition. A shipyard still repairs tugs and fishing boats at this location today.
Courtesy of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Historical Society
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This photo shows a storage area for the West Yard.
Courtesy of Portland Harbor Museum
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2. Before South Portland separated from Cape Elizabeth in 1895, the town's northern end was known as Purpooduck and its southern end as Spurwink.
Courtesy of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Historical Society
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With World War II escalating demand for the Liberty ships, construction began on South Portland
Illustration on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By New England Shipbuilding Corp., 1943
3. Illustration on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
See Photo Caption #1 for information
Shipbuilding Corp.s' West Yard in the spring of 1941. Its first Liberty ship, John Davenport, slid down the ways on May 15, 1942.
Courtesy of Portland Harbor Museum
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In this advertisement a shipyard worker emphasizes the importance of each Liberty ship and worker in the quest to win the war and bring American men back unharmed.
Courtesy of Portland Harbor Museum
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On board the Jeremiah O'Brien in 1994. From left: Admiral Thomas Patterson, Captain George Jahn, Walter Jaffee, Ed Langlois, founder of the Shipyard Society, and pilot, Howard Wentworth.
Courtesy of the Shipyard Society

The Jeremiah O'Brien was launched from the West Yard on June 19, 1943. 51 years later she steamed past Portland Head on return from Normandy and the fiftieth anniversary of her role in the 1944 D-Day invasion. While in Portland, many visitors went on board, toured the restored vessle, and cruised the harbor.
Courtesy of Don Johnson
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3. Dignitaries including Senator Harry S. Truman, attended Maine Shipbuilding Day festivities at the Todd-Bath shipyard. On August 16, 1942 five British Ocean class ships: Seaman, Gallant, Wayfarer, Stranger, and Traveler were launched simultaneously.
Courtesy
Illustration on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1832
4. Illustration on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
See Photo Caption #2 for information
of Joel Eastman
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4. Here the Ocean ships were decorated and ready for launching. Two more vessels were under construction in the adjacent basins.

Yard workers and visitors crowded the docks and the ships' upper decks to take part in this historic event.
Photograph by Victor Kahill, courtesy of Don Johnson
 
Location. 43° 39.207′ N, 70° 14.016′ W. Marker is in South Portland, Maine, in Cumberland County. Click for map. Marker is at the Liberty Ship Memorial in Bug Light Park, on Cushings Point, off Madison Street. Marker is in this post office area: South Portland ME 04106, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Ugly Ducklings (here, next to this marker); The Yard (here, next to this marker); WWII: On the Home Front (here, next to this marker); The Ultimate Sacrifice (here, next to this marker); Voyages for Victory (here, next to this marker); The Work Force (here, next to this marker); Liberty Ship Memorial (here, next to this marker); South Portland's Ships for Liberty (a few steps from this marker). Click for a list of all markers in South Portland.
 
Also see . . .
1. South Portland's Wartime Shipbuilding. (Submitted on December 12, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Image on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By New England Shipbuilding Corp., circa 1940s
5. Image on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
The New England Shipbuilding Corp. shipyard at Cushings Point. The Liberty Ship Memorial location is highlighted in yellow.

2. South Portland Shipyard Oral History Project. (Submitted on December 12, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien National Liberty Ship Memorial. (Submitted on December 12, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommercePatriots & PatriotismWar, World IIWaterways & Vessels
 
Truman Photo on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Eastman, August 16, 1942
6. Truman Photo on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
See Photo Caption #3 for information
Photo on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker image. Click for full size.
By Victor Kahill, August 16, 1942
7. Photo on South Portland and Its Liberty Ships Marker
See Photo Caption #4 for information
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 958 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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