USS Constitution Always Fascinates

As you visit USS Constitution undergoing renovations in its dry dock, take time to reflect on how visitors would have different experiences visiting the ship in the Navy Yard over its long history.

In the early days, especially during the War of 1812, visitors flocked to visit the famous warship whenever it dropped anchor after a cruise. The Reverend William Bentley paid a visit while the ship lay in Salem Harbor in 1814, writing that he was “handsomely received by Captain C. Stewart,” and given a tour of the entire ship.

Not all visitors were so nicely accommodated. According to Marine Fifer Thomas Byron, in 1813 “a green looking countryman came alongside the ship in a shore boat to look at the ship and having the whip on the main yard to whip in water one of the larks went down in the boat and commenced talking with the man while another slipped the rope under his arms no sooner done than up he went crying a Turkey a Turkey, this was sport for the officers. They lowered him down on deck and showed him the Ship he was a man over six foot high with broad brim hat, a long surtout and cane and cut a great figure in the air.”

At the time of the ship’s 100th birthday in October 1897 it was first opened for extensive public visitation; the side rails on the ship had to be cut to accommodate a gangway for the public; 900 sailors joined in a parade to the Navy Yard for the celebration.

In October 1899 you might have found yourself in a time-warp, for alongside “Old Ironsides” loomed a true ironsides, the USS Olympia. You now saw for yourself that the Age of Sail had truly passed. Thousands of people came to the Navy Yard to witness this spectacle of seeing the two ships together.

Excerpt from the blog post Visiting USS Constitution in the Navy Yard Through Time which appeared first on USS Constitution Museum. The article is by guest blogger Bill Parrow. Bill is a park guide with the Boston National Historical Park, and so knows a thing or two about visiting the Charlestown Navy Yard.

USS Constitution Alongside USS Olympia