Shipyard soul Andrew B. Sides

By Barbara F. Dyer, Official Town Historian | Dec 02, 2012
Andrew B. Sides lights oil-soaked rope on fire.

Andrew B. Sides was born in Waldoboro on Dec. 12, 1882. He married Helen Field and they had a son, Andrew Sides Jr., and daughter Virginia Sides.

He was probably best known in Camden as vice-president of the Eastern Steamship Lines, Inc. People refer to it as the “Boston Boat.” As far back as 1890, there was a booklet called “The Camden Mountains” by J. R. Prescott, and among other things of interest in Camden the Boston & Bangor Steamship Company was mentioned. It was a delightful experience to ride on those large steamships (that were about 320-feet in length) from Boston to Bangor and stops in between.

The steamers left Fosters Wharf in Boston promptly at five in the afternoon and gave three hours of daylight to enjoy sailing along the Massachusetts’ coast. Nahant, Salem, Marblehead and Gloucester were successfully passed, and darkness set in just after the twin lights on Cape Ann were rounded. The early riser would see some of the striking views of the rock-bound coast of Maine, between the Kennbec and Penobscot rivers. After that the waters were smoother due to the numerous islands which acted as breakwaters.

For miles the course was through an almost land-locked channel, where the jutting headlands and rocky irregularities of the coast stood out in bold relief. The last of these was Owls Head after which the steamers entered Penobscot Bay. With lime kilns prevalent on the coast in Rockland, they stopped for about 20 minutes to load freight. By seven in the morning, they were viewing the Camden mountains.

In 1916 they wrote that upon leaving Boston at India Wharf, while loading the baggage the porter would say,” All those passengers what intended stopping at the beautiful village of Penobscot (Camden), please land on the upper deck stepping forward.”

The Eastern Steamship Wharf in Camden was totally destroyed by fire Aug. 1, 1924. (That one is recognized by the turrets.) They rebuilt it during that fall and winter and the new one was completed in 1925.

The “Boston Boat” was discontinued in 1937 and when World War II broke out Wayfarer Maine & Shipbuilding Company, Inc., used it for a mold loft. It was sold in 1951 to the Helioffs for a lobster packing plant. However, three years later with stress and strain of so many lobster tanks and barrels, the center section collapsed and 18,000 pounds of lobster went back to their natural habitat.

For seven years, the pilings gave way and it was decided that the “flotsam and the jetsam” from the old wharf became a menace to navigation. At a special town meeting May 11, 1959, towns people voted to remove it. For the next three days as much lumber as was salvageable was removed.

On May 15, Mr. Andrew Sides had the honor of igniting the oil soaked ropes. the ropes burned for three days, hating to “give up the ghost.”

Mr. Sides was many things in addition to working for Eastern Steamship Lines, Inc. He was also vice-president of the Yarmouth Steamship Co., Ltd in Boston; vice-president of Thompson Spa; and president of the New England Shipbuilding Corp. in Portland during World War II. Following the war he was appointed general manager of the Todd Shipyards, Inc., Brooklyn Division, later becoming vice-president and director of the Sprague Steamship Co. Earlier, while serving as Todd representative in New England, he also conducted his own steamship agency and shipping brokerage firm, Andew B. Sides and Co. in Boston.

During the first World War, he served as captain in the U. S. Army Transportation Corps and very briefly as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve at the beginning of World War II.

Andrew B. Sides was appointed by Gov. Cross of Maine to serve as director of the Maine Port Authority and later to serve as the Authority.

From 1947-1963, he was director of Bath Iron Works, retiring after sixteen months of service. Until his death he was consultant to the Todd Shipyards Corp.

He was an honorary member of the Class of 1909 of Princeton University, a member of the Algonquin Club of Boston, the Society of Nava Architects and Maine Engineers and a trustee of the Doughlas Thom Memorial Corporation of Camden.

Prominent Rockport resident Andrew B. Sides died at age 89, on Sept. 1, 1971.His funeral services were at First Congregational Church in Camden, with Rev. Donald Henderson officiating and Mountain View Cemetery, he chose as his final resting place.

Steamship Wharf on fire.
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