Edited by Carol McCracken
that the Portland Company, located at 58 Fore Street, was founded in 1846? At one time it was the manufacturing headquarters for Portland’s heavy equipment. In that role, it was a vital industrial employer of many families on the Hill. The company was founded in 1846 and remained in business until 1976. The company was started by John Alfred Poor to serve the Grand Trunk Railroad. In its long and important history, the company produced 628 locomotives as well as gun boats, rail and marine equipment, munitions, heavy machinery, pulp-digesters, the first commercial nuclear reactor shell and the marine engine for the tugboat “Sequin.”
The site was originally Fort Burrough Battery during the War of 1812.
More recently, the wealthy Sprague Family from Cape Elizabeth purchased this valuable tract of land along the Portland waterfront. The complex is now home to Portland Yacht Services and the controversial Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum & Co. It also the site of the Portland Flower Show and the current Maine Boatbuilders Show.
As recently as last fall, the large tract of land was for sale to the right purchaser. That according to property manager, Phin Sprague, Jr., is a developer who will permit him to retain the management of Portland Yacht Services and restore the old buildings to something resembling their former glory days or better. So far apparently no purchaser has been located willing to make those accommodations to the Sprague family.
Portland Yacht Services was the site of the July 2003 launching of the luxury yacht “Lions Welp.” The 72 -foot schooner was largely built on the property. She was a year in the planning and took 4 l/2 years to build. The yacht built for the Sprague family to replicate the ship upon which their ancestors crossed the Atlantic Ocean was built as well for worldwide cruising. There are sleeping accommodations for 12 people – complete with sauna. Safety issues were addressed by the installation of the most sophisticated computer technology available at the time. In the past some part of each winter, the Spragues have spent cruising upon the “Lions Welp” in seas far south of Maine!