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From the Archives: Shipping Sulphur

118 years ago, Portland was a hub for importing and distributing sulphur and brimstone to paper mills, match factories, glue makers, and other manufacturers around New England.  Business was good, and the Union Sulphur Company, which shipped sulphur to Portland from its mines in Louisiana, was anxious to unload their ships as fast as possible.

Portland’s stevedores were not so sure.  Sulphur was not pleasant to work with.  As Chase, Leavitt Co. explained in May, 1911: “We have talked with Mr. Bradley who says…he will work on Sunday until the vessel is discharged.  He prefers to do this rather than work overtime [during the week] as he has only one crew of men, and when they have worked 10 hrs. on sulphur they are not in condition to work any longer.”

While the Union Sulphur Company embraced their odiferous business (see the house flag), they did acquiesce to the altered schedule with the optimistic response: “I trust that we will have good weather during [the] discharge.”

Maine Maritime Museum