Snow Squall: Last of the American Clipper Ships
View the remains of the last American clipper ship in existence.
In the mid-19th century, American clipper ships astounded the maritime world with their amazingly swift passages to and from faraway seaports, bringing back exotic and valuable cargoes of tea, spices and silk. Over 300 such ships were built to profitably rush cargo from New York and Boston to California, Asia and Australia and return with teas, silks and spices. Of all of those American clippers, only one remains: the Maine-built Snow Squall.
Built in South Portland, Maine in 1851, Snow Squall was a full-rig, three-mast clipper ship, designed and built for speed not capacity. Built of Maine hardwoods and southern pine, the Snow Squall was 157 feet long with a draft of 16.5 feet. She generally carried a crew of 16. Built by Cornelius and Alfred Butler and launched at Turner's Island, Cape Elizabeth, Maine (now South Portland), Snow Squall departed Portland only once, on her maiden voyage, with no intention of a return.
She made voyages all over the world, carrying valuable and time dependent cargoes. In 1864, she was heavily damaged trying to round Cape Horn and was abandoned in the Falkland Islands. Through conservation efforts, In 1987 she was brought back, a fragment of her former self, as a unique surviving artifact of the age of American clippers. The bow section and others parts of the Snow Squall were recovered and are now housed at Maine Maritime Museum
Among the artifacts that Maine Maritime Museum received when it merged with Portland Harbor Museum was the advertising handbill pictured below that promoted what would become the final voyage of Snow Squall.