Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sailing the Seven Seas

Ahoy! While it never did catch on for Alexander Graham Bell on how to answer the telephone, it was a very typical greeting to sailors as well as for the start of this blog as we will be exploring the history of a ship that has sailed the seven seas. Now if the previous sentence had anyone excited about reading about pirates and the like, I am afraid I must disappoint and instead tell you about a ship that has a checkered history and significance to our key collections’ ship section.

In the year of 1887 a ship was built in the Port of Glasgow, Scotland and set sail from Liverpool, England and was called the Kenilworth by the owners. The J. Reid and Company ship was a four mast ship that spanned just over 300 feet long and able to carry a total of 2293 tons. This ship that started out with so much potential and promise, however, was doomed for difficult times.

Its maiden voyage was a success, traveling from San Francisco to Newcastle in 41 days. And even her second voyage was profitable as well, sailing from Liverpool to San Francisco in 128 days. Sadly, the perfection of her first two voyages was met with disaster in the harbor of San Francisco. In August of 1889, a warehouse near the docked Kenilworth caught fire and the fire spilled over onto the ship. While still remaining fairly well intact, the ship was considered a constructional loss and was sold to the A. Sewall and Co. from New York.

It cost them $45,000 to repair but very quickly she was back to her hauling of cargo all over the world under the command of Captain J. Baker. For almost 6 years the ship had little difficulty with the tasks she was given. Her crew however had other plans. In 1895, the crew mutinied against the captain, first mate, and second mate. They set fire to the ship and the captain and the first mate suffocated in their rooms. The second mate was kept alive since they were in the middle of the ocean and J. Generaux was the only man left that understood navigation. This mutiny did not last long for when they set to port in Valparaiso, Chile the mutineers were punished and the ship was then sent on under Captain Murphy to its original destination in New York.

More than a decade later with only minor difficulties, the Kenilworth was sold to the Alaska Packer’s Association and renamed the Star of Scotland in 1908. For twenty-two years the Star of Scotland carried canned salmon back and forth to Alaska. The ship withstood valiantly under the extreme weather conditions of the Northern Pacific and Bering Sea. It was after this time that the key to the captain’s quarters was sent here to the Baldpate Inn and where it has been on display ever since.

This was not the end for the ship. Once again renamed, this time Rex, in the 1930s by a gangster known as Tony Cornero. For several years it was used as a casino off of the coast of Santa Monica, California before being shut down in 1940 and commissioned as the Star of Scotland as a cargo ship until being sunk on November 13th, 1942 by the German submarine U-159. As the donator of the key to this mighty ship’s captain’s quarters wrote in the letter to us, “If this key could talk it could tell interesting tales of tempests, shipwreck, mutiny, and hardships. It could also tell tales of tasks well done, as this vessel sailed the seven seas, carrying cargoes to all parts of the world, and her life history has been quite unusual.” With so many wild tales of the seven seas, we here at the Baldpate Inn feel very blessed to have such a unique key in our collection.

A further reminder for those that will be in Estes Park, Summer Enchanted Evenings is tomorrow night at 7 pm with Dick Thompson speaking about Life with the Grizzly. Also I am nearly prepared to present ten of the most famous keys in the Key Room the following Wednesday, July 9th, at 7 pm. Both are expected to be very interesting evenings and I hope those in the area will turn out and be open to a unique educational experience.
Until next time,
Key Room Curator