Museums Collaborate to Bring Sunken Steamboat Documentary to the Midcoast

by | Jul 4, 2023

The Moosehead Maritime Museum, the Penobscot Marine Museum, and the Sail, Power and Steam Museum are collaborating to bring the documentary, Sunken Steamboats of Moosehead Lake,” to Rockland at 6:30pm on July 10, 2023 at the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum at 75 Mechanic Street.

Liz McKeil, Executive Director of the Moosehead Marine Museum notes that diver and filmmaker, Ryan Robbins grew up on Moosehead Lake, touring her shores with his dad who was a fishing guide.  As an adult, he was fascinated by the stories of the steamships that once plied her waters, and as he learned to dive, he began to explore.  Eventually he met McKeil, and together they envisioned a documentary to tell the stories of Moosehead’s maritime cultural heritage and the history of these beautiful old vessels.

Today, the “Katahdin” is the only steamboat remaining, allowing visitors to experience the beauty of Moosehead.  But back in the early 1900s, over 25 steamboats cruised the Lake, some as large as 130’.  Where now only one vessel sits at the dock, in the steam boating heydays, eight of them might have sat, waiting for passengers and cargo.  Now, many of them lie on the bottom of the lake.

Robbins explained, these vessels were the biggest factor in the development of the area. Before the arrival of the cars and roads, visitors would arrive in Greenville by train or stagecoach then travel by steamboat to their destination on the lake … along with cargo such as linens and pianos headed to the fancy resorts that dotted the lake to farm animals, freight, and possibly a Model T or two to homes, camps, and farms.

“Sunken Steamboats of Moosehead Lake” outlines the history of steam boating on Moosehead Lake through oral history interviews, archival images, and underwater video.  This historical documentary reveals some of the remains of vessels that now lie on the bottom of the largest freshwater lake east of the Mississippi in one state.

Robin McIntosh, Associate Director of the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum noted that Moosehead Lake, much like Penobscot Bay and our Atlantic seaboard, served as a transportation highway long before car travel and road construction became the norm.  “It was, in effect, the I95 of western Maine back then.”

Karen Smith, Executive Director of the Penobscot Marine Museum, added that this cultural connection between the state’s eastern shores and the hills and lakes of western Maine created the perfect scenario for the three museums to collaborate.

Tickets for the event will be available at the door for a suggested donation of $5.00.  For more information:,,