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SS Wyoming: The Six-Masted Schooner Wyoming Poem

About the poem

Jim Hand, Assistant Registrar at the University of Wyoming, wrote the poem about the sinking of the schooner Wyoming about ten years prior to Francois Dickman’s research project. Hand’s poem resurfaced after a local newspaper did a piece on the newly built model ship. [14]

The Six-Masted Schooner Wyoming Poem

Image courtesy of The Mariners Museum. Newport News, Virginia.

The Six-Masted Schooner Wyoming

By Jim Hand

   In our wake was the ‘Cora F Cressy’
   With a load of coal in the hold
   As we sailed early March out of Norfolk
   On the mighty ‘Wyoming’ of old.

   We were bound for Saint John in New Brunswick
   (The ‘Cressy’ from Portland in Maine)
   With our good Captain Glaesel commanding
   As northward the canvas did strain.

   The heaviest, largest and strongest
   of wooden ships sailing the seas
   Was our iron-strapped schooner ‘Wyoming’
   A good sailer in any breeze!

   ‘Twas the six-masted schooner, Wyoming,
   (No wooden craft larger would sail)
   And we slid past Nantucket on schedule
   Passed the Shoals, then were caught in a gale.

   Icy gusts in our masts and our rigging
   Lurching decks and shrieks from the hull
   With nothing in sight but shadows and white
   And so cold the skin shrank to the skull.

   “Don’t worry,” said the Captain, “we’ll make it.
   Fifteen years this old schooner’s been blown
   ‘Cross most every part of this ocean
   And never a weakness was shown.”

   But what of our five-masted cohort?
   If she founders her crew’s sure to drown.
   We must bear on her course and be ready,
   Just in case the Cressy goes down.

   The Cressy’s location was plotted
   And a rescue encounter was made
   Then we signalled the Cressy to follow
   And, close-hauling, westerly made.

A week on the log we dropped anchor
Off of Chatham to ride out the night
In a battering sea in a blizzard
With the protected Cressy in sight.

Just at dusk the bad weather grew frightful
And screaming winds raised up the sea,
And snow blew so thick and so heavy
That nothing but white could we see.

In crew quarters fit for a captain,
Exhausted, we clung to our beds
Sharing a rev’rance for nature,
In silence concealing our dreads.

The doom of the Cressy seemed certain –
She must turn to claw off shore.
Blinded by blizzard we waited
Hearing naught but the deafening roar.

Never a storm such as this one.
Never a sea quite so dread.
We stood by to rescue the crew of the Cressy
And lost the Wyoming instead!

They say that on Wednesday our name-board
Returned to its home on the land
And that seventy-two feet of one mast washed ashore
(Deemed too short for a vessel so grand).

Could it be that the largest and strongest
Six-masted schooner was through?
In Nantucket, Chatham, and elsewhere,
Was there no one to mourn for the crew?

Oh, they called it the ‘Mighty Wyoming’
The pride of our maritime fleet
But when it went down and all hands were lost
‘Twas the twilight of wood, rope, and sheet.

And today as the steamers pass Chatham 
Each hand feels a lump in his chest 
As he thinks of the hopes of the brave men below 
Where their bones in ‘Wyoming’ now rest. 


"Pride of the Yard" By Thomas M. Hoyne III
‘The launch of the six-masted schooner Wyoming from the Percy and Small Shipyard, Bath, Maine, December 15, 1909.’ 
Courtesy of the Maine Maritime Museum.