A tribute to the last coastal steamer, the S.S. Nobska, her sister ships, other steamships of days gone by and current ferries that sail the waters of Nantucket Sound...
The S.S. Nobska was launched in 1925 from Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine. She was the second of 4 steamships of nearly the same design to be built for the New England Steamship Company, forerunner to the current Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority. The Nobska was powered by a single triple expansion steam engine. She was 210 feet long with a 50 foot beam. Nobska could go as fast as 14 knots. In 1928, her name was changed to Nantucket. The name was changed back to Nobska in 1956 when a new steamship ferry was launched in Camden, NJ.
I first discovered the Nobska in the summer of 1973. She was sailing twice daily between Woods Hole and Nantucket. Her whistle would echo across the island no matter where you were. In September 1973, the Nobska was taken out of service as it became too costly to maintain. At the time, the 1st Energy Crisis was in effect. Her design was not conducive to easily loading the automobile and freight was easier to ship by tractor trailer truck. Newer double ended loading ships powered by more efficient diesel engines were being built.
From 1974-1975, the Nobska was tied up along the south side of Nantucket's Steamboat Wharf. Living nearly on Old North Wharf this ship was my daily view across the water until mid August of 1975, when the Steamship Authority found a buyer who would make her a floating restaurant in Baltimore, MD.