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The USS Constitution
at Charlestown Yard

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USS Constitution photo

It was the phenomenal success of Ironsides that supported the groundswell of reaction to Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem in 1830, that supported continued restoration of the frigate through its 200 year history. Though replaced time and again, like almost every particle of the ship, this captain's wheel still looks and feels like the original.



USS Constitution photo

Our visit came days after the sea trials to test the ship's ability to visit Portsmouth. As a result, we never got below the gun decks. Our guide said, due to the intense cannon noise in battle, most sailors ended up deaf. This is a pretty crummy picture, but it's all we had time for below decks. The surprisingly spacious officers area was closed. Sailors, including "powder monkey" boy assistants as young as 10 years old, slept in hammocks below this deck.



USS Constitution photo

Likely more than any ship in history, Ironsides has been refurbished again and again. She was rebuilt twice in Portsmouth, then in New York, in Boston. Between the ship and the museum is a real dry-dock on display. We'd never seen one before, and it's an impressive site.



USS Constitution photo

With the Boston skyline in the distance, we bid farewell to "Old Ironsides." The ship's visit to Portsmouth in 1998 was rejected due to fear her hull would not survive. Still, there remains a 200-year alliance between Boston and Portsmouth, two of the nation's oldest ship building cities. While Ironsides was being built here in Charlestown in 1797, Portsmouth was commissioned to build the USS Congress, another of the six original frigates in the new American Navy, and sister ship to the USS Constitution. Congress was dismantled in 1838.

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Disposable photos by J. Dennis Robinson
© 1998 SeacocastNH.com

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