Shipbuilding and shipping have always been key elements in the life of Essex. Since the seventeenth century, the men and women of the lower Connecticut River Valley sustained maritime traditions that spanned the globe in splendid wooden sailing vessels. Their accomplishments include building the first warship of the Connecticut navy and the world’s first submarine. They also served as packet ship captains, navigators and skilled crew members who crossed the Atlantic. The Essex area was also home to dedicated craftsmen who produced some of the finest yachts ever built. Noted historians Wick Griswold and Ruth Major detail one village’s important role in American maritime history.
Wick Griswold is the author of several History Press books. He teaches the sociology of the Connecticut River at the University of Hartford. He is also the commodore of the Connecticut River Drifting Society.
A former educational program director and regional high school teacher, Ruth Major grew up hearing stories about her Saybrook/Essex ancestors who were shipmasters and shipbuilders. She credits her grandmother, Marjorie Post, for inspiring her passion for New England and New York history. Ruth lives with her grandson’s cat and three hens on the Vineyard, where she researches, writes, and paints.
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