The sardine carrier TRIDENT, built by Frank Rice of East Boothbay for the Neptune Packing Company of Boston and Boothbay Harbor. Courtesy of Boothbay Region Historical Society.

It is no secret that the towns and villages that make up the Boothbay Region have had a long rich history of fishing and lobstering as well as boatbuilding. Those occupations were the backbone of those towns for centuries. It was also those occupations as well as the natural beauty of the area that attracted “rusticators”, “summer people” and tourists to the region. For years the traditional industries and tourism had coexisted mostly harmoniously but in the past 50 years or so, the balance has shifted so that the summer people and tourists have squeezed out much of the working waterfronts. It was this squeeze that prompted a small group of concerned fisherman, businessmen and teachers to form the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation (BRMF.) They felt that it was important to ensure that viable, commercial, deep-water properties within the sheltered harbor that is essential to the maritime community and its economy be preserved.

The priority of BRMF is to preserve working waterfront so that fisherman can have a place to park their trucks, access their boats and sell their catch. To this end, BRMF is working to rebuild two of the four working waterfront properties in the waterfront district, the Sea Pier aka Carter’s Wharf and the Fisherman’s Coop wharf. BRMF also believe it is important to educate the public on the role that the maritime industries have played in these communities. To fulfill this goal, BRMF partnered with the Penobscot Marine Museum (PMM) and the Boothbay Region Historical Society (BRHS) to create a research collection of commercial working waterfront photos including historical and contemporary photos of fishing and boatbuilding in the Boothbay region. Thus far, hundreds of photographs from local organizations and individuals have been digitized by the archivists at PMM. Contributors have included the Boothbay Memorial Library, Boothbay Register, Department of Marine Resources as well as the Tibbetts and Brewer families, June Elderkin, Alden Stickney, Jean Chenoweth, Robbie Begin and Barry Gibson. The collection lives online on the PMM online database.

The collection is a community-sourced collection that relies on individuals and organizations from the Boothbay Region for photographs as well as the stories behind them. Participants in the project may wish to donate their photos to PMM or the BRHS, otherwise loaned photographs are returned to their owners after digitizing. It is the hope that the interested public that sees these photos will share background information, names, places and stories through the online database’s feedback feature.

In August an exhibit drawing from the collection was created and put on display at the Boothbay Opera House. The beautifully framed prints and enlargements in the exhibit are offered for sale with the proceeds going support BRMF efforts. Due to popular demand the end date for the exhibit was extended through the end of the year. Cathy Sherrill, Executive Director of the Opera House, commented, “It’s been terrific seeing the response from both residents and visitors to the Maritime Foundation exhibit upstairs. We are all pleased to have it remain for viewing this fall – hoping that all the images get purchased! The Opera House still has performances coming to the stage this fall as well as the return of the Gingerbread Spectacular and holiday events in December. This will be a great opportunity for our community to see these great photos.” The show is sponsored by a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. The upstairs gallery at the Boothbay Harbor Opera House is open between 10 and 2, Wednesdays through Fridays, and is also open to ticket holders on the evenings of performances.

On the last day of each month, bids will be collected and winning bidders notified to make arrangements for payment and pick-up. Many photos have already been sold. These historical images make unique holiday gifts and would look great on the walls of your restaurant, inn or B&B. Don’t miss this opportunity to own a piece of local history.

To explore the collection online, visit PMM’s website, To contribute photos, information or ask questions, contact PMM Photo Archivist Kevin Johnson at or cal (207)548-2529.

The Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization formed in September of 2018. Their mission is to preserve working waterfront and our maritime heritage. They are rebuilding the Carter’s Wharf buying station, NOT building a park, and should not be confused with the Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Preservation group. For more information, visit their website,