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R. A. Pike | Ship Model | Built by Alden Bradford, Eastport, Maine in 1857.
A large historic model of a full rigged ship named the R.A. Pike that for decades resided in the reading room of the Peavey Memorial Library in Eastport. No one knew where the name of the ship came from nor what the origins of the ship were. No one could locate any record of a real ship having been named the R.A. Pike. In 2009 the Peavey Library placed the ship model with the Tides Institute. Recently, the mystery of where the name of ship came from as well as the origins of the ship model were solved. The first tip came from a 1970 article in the local Quoddy Tides newspaper that talked about several ship models then in Eastport's downtown. Two were in a downtown storefront and one, the R.A. Pike, was at the library. The article stated that the the R.A. Pike was built by Oliver Bradford and named for his soon to be wife, Ruth Ann Pike. Only there never was an Oliver Bradford in Eastport. The model builder was instead Alden Bradford who married Ruth Ann Pike in 1857. This date corresponds to descriptions of the R.A. Pike when it was repaired and rerigged in 1963 by Clark Huhn. He observed that the style of rigging and gear for handling the R.A. Pike indicated the ship dated between 1840 and 1859. The scale of the model is 1/4 inch to the foot giving dimensions for the full size ship of 135 feet in length, 32 foot beam, 22 foot depth and tonnage of about 570 tons. In the 1850s, Alden Bradford ran a clothing store in Eastport's downtown. His grandfather had been a shipbuilder in Robbinston. Photo caption: Model of full rigged three masted sailing ship model, the R.A. Pike, that is part of the collections of TIMA. Artist: Artist unknown Medium: Wood Old Accession Number: 78 Description: Model of full rigged ship. On permanent loan from the Peavey Memorial Library of Eastport, Maine. Ship Model. R.A. Pike. Placed on permanent loan by the Eastport Library Association in 2009. Loan Agreement is on file. From one page sheet given to Tides Institute by the Eastport Library Association in 2009. One page sheet is on file. "R.A. Pike" Obviously constructed by a craftsman with the knowledge of a master mariner, the exact origin of this model of the "R.A. Pike" remains an enigma. As far as can be ascertained, it once stood in an old time Eastport store, and was eventually loaned to the Library many years ago. The record of the transaction, if any, no longer exits. The locations of its shipyard, builders, and owners are unknown. Likewise, research, still under way, has brought to light no registration records of any full-rigged ship of that name. The scale of the model has been determined to be 1/4 inch to the foot. This would establish the dimensions of the full-sized ship as 135 feet long between perpendiculars, with 32-foot beams, and a 22-foot depth of hold. Her mainmast measured 148 feet from keel to truck; her main yard was 58 feet long. Her tonnage would have been about 570. The style of rigging and gear for handling the ship indicates that she belongs to the period between 1840 and 1859. The model was completely restored and re-rigged in 1963 by Clark Huhn of Eastport. The yawl and longboat at the stern davits, on loan from his collection of ship models, are the size and type used by merchantmen in the mid-1850s; they replace the ship's boats in the nearby frame, which are too crude to have been the handiwork of the larger model's builders. Note: If anyone has any knowledge of the facts relating to the models builder, or of the original ship and its owner, the Trustees of the Library would appreciate whatever information can be supplied. From The Quoddy Tides newspaper, Eastport, Maine June 12, 1970, p.7: ”Model Boats on Display in Eastport One of the oldest model boats on display in Eastport is the “R.A. Pike” which was loaned to the Peavey Memorial Library many years ago. It is a beautifully done museum piece and was built by Oliver Bradford and named after his future wife, Ruth Ann Pike. As far as can be determined, it is not a model of any particular ship — at least it was never registered in the United States. In 1963 it was re-rigged and restored by Clark Huhn, who estimated that it was a 1/4 scale of a 135' 3 masted vessel of 32' beam and 22' depth." The article goes on to describe three other sailing boat models (two schooners and a pinky) currently on display in Eastport downtown storefronts. None of the three models are associated with Eastport or the Passamaquoddy Bay Area. Clark Foote Huhn (1900-1967) buried in Hillside Cemetery, Eastport, Maine. *********** BRADFORD, Alden Ring, Born Apr 1828 in Eastport, Washington, Maine, Died Apr 07 1908 in Boston, Suffolk, Mass BRADFORD, Alden Ring Jr., Born May 1860 in Eastport, Washington, Maine, Died AFT 1920 in Boston, Suffolk, Mass ************ From Vital Records from the Eastport Sentinel of Eastport, Maine, 1818-1900: p. 154 Vol 39 #27, 29 Apr 1857: Marriages: In Eastport, 28 Apr 1857, by Rev. S.D. Hosmer, Major Alden BRADFORD to Ruth A. d/o Humphrey PIKE all of Eastport p. 229 Vol 49 #33, 3 Jul 1867 Deaths: In Eastport, 2 Jul 1867, Mrs. Alden BRADFORD, 29 y 9 m. ************* From William Henry Kilby, Eastport and Passamaquoddy (1888): p. 286 - 287 The thirty-second representative of the town, chosen in 1868, was Honorable Alden Bradford, son of Andrew R. and Betsy (Blatchford) Bradford, born at Eastport, April 25, 1828. His grandfather was one of the early ship-builders at Robbinston; and the family is of the stock of the Pilgrim governor, William Bradford. He has been connected with the clothing house of which he is the present head from the beginning. ....