Down East Seniors learn Washington history

Published 2:57 pm Friday, September 2, 2016

The Down East Seniors Club held their Aug. 31 meeting at The Blind Center of North Carolina in Washington. President Ed Hamrick led the meeting. Jim Hackney played for the singing of “God Bless America,” and Ed Bolen gave the invocation. Dick Paul provided humor.

Bob Diefendorf introduced Rick Zablocki, a volunteer with Historic Port of Washington. This organization studies the maritime history of Washington and is soliciting historic articles to be displayed in the museum it has on Market Street. Before the construction of railroads and good roads, boats were the primary movers of goods. In the 1790s, the customs house (for collecting a tax on all goods transported by water) was moved from Bath to Washington. This resulted in the bulk of marine commerce also moving to Washington. At this time, most boats were powered by sails. Sail-powered boats were not practical up the river above Washington because the narrow river restricted the wind, and the shallow water did not allow centerboards needed by sailboats. It was not until the mid- to late 1800s that steam-powered boats with flat bottoms made travel up the river practical. From this time until the early 1900s, Washington was also an important boat-building center. The museum has a large mural showing how the Washington waterfront may have looked in the 1880-1900 period. There are also rooms with specialized exhibits for the period: one for lifestyles showing clothing and housewares, another for children showing toys and another for Historic Bath. The museum is open Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Stewart Rumley won the 50/50 drawing.