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star island ledges The year 2000 marks the 200th anniversary of what locals call "America's oldest federal shipyard." Government shipbuilding began here in Portsmouth Harbor as early as construction of the British "Falkland" in 1690. Portsmouth Yard (actually in Kittery, Maine) is near the site where the John Langdon built John Paul Jone's ship Ranger in 1777, and later the US Congress, one of the Navy's first six warships. When George Washington visited Portsmouth, Langdon reportedly pointed out the island and said something like - George, wouldn't this spot make a great federal yard?

Pictures of Old Ironsides being repaired here are among the very first photographs in the US Naval Archives. From sailing ships to nuclear submarines, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been active two centuries. Clearly a source of local pride - and jobs - postcards have documented the last century from the 1905 explosion at Henderson's Point to modern times. The building of the local drydock and the infamous Navy Prison building were popular postcard images and carried many a message from traveling sailor to family and friends. Many of these cards were donated by local history fan Debi Wilson from her collection. -- JDR

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Related Navy Yard articles:

Test Your Portsmouth Maritime IQ

The Day the U-boat's Surrendered

Taking Another Shot at William & Mary

Old Ironsides Postcards in Charleston Yard

Blowing Up Henderson's Point

Let's Build Our Own Tall Ship

200 Year Timeline of NH- Maine Border War

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Penny Postcard Tour
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

(Click on thumbnails for full-sized
image and description of each card.)

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
Image 4 Image 5 Image 6
Image 7 Image 8 Image 9
Image 10 Image 11 Image 12

All images courtesy of Debi Wilson
and SeacoastNH.com Image Library
© 1999 SeacoastNH.com

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