September 19, 2022
Francois Dickman, UW alumnus, adjunct professor and ambassador, works on a model of the Wyoming schooner. The late shipbuilding enthusiast’s model and research material are on permanent display on the main level of UW’s Coe Library. (Dickman family photo)
An exhibit featuring a model of the Wyoming schooner that was built by a UW alumnus and former professor is on permanent display at the University of Wyoming’s Coe Library.
The late Francois Dickman, the first UW graduate to achieve the rank of ambassador, was an avid ship modeler. He built a model of the Wyoming schooner while writing “America’s Largest Wooden Vessel: The Six-Masted Schooner Wyoming” which was published in the Spring/Summer 1994 issue of Wyoming Annals (now Annals of Wyoming). At the time, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at UW and president of the Albany County Historical Society.
In early 1993, Dickman began corresponding with the Maine Maritime Museum, which owns the Percy & Small shipyard where the Wyoming was built. In his research he contacted numerous nautical museums, historical agencies, archives and libraries throughout New England for photographs and plans, historical newspaper and journal articles, and the building survey detailing the Assembly and Composition of Wyoming Materials. Dickman completed his meticulously detailed scale model in the spring of 1994. Soon after, he presented his research and model to UW.
About 10 years before Dickman’s research project, Jim Hand, a former assistant registrar at UW, wrote “The Six-Masted Schooner Wyoming,” a poem about the sinking of the ship. Hand’s poem resurfaced after a local newspaper ran an article about the newly built model ship. It was also published in the Spring/Summer 1994 issue of Wyoming Annals.
In 2021, Dickman’s model and research material were donated to UW Libraries by the Dickman family. Dickman’s work and Hand’s poem are on permanent display on the main level of the Coe Library.
Built in 1909 in Bath, Maine, the six-masted schooner was the largest wooden ship ever built. It was made of 1.5 million feet of Southern pine and Chesapeake Bay white oak, and measured about 330 feet from bow to stern, roughly the distance between the goal posts on a pitch. of football.
Due to a shortage of ships, wooden schooners including Wyoming were bought out by the France and Canada Steamship Co. in 1917. During the remainder of World War I, Wyoming carried goods from the United States. United to foreign ports, even managing to outrun a German U-boat on one voyage.
On a routine trip from Norfolk, Virginia to Portland, Maine in the spring of 1924, Wyoming was caught in a gale. Snow and waves pounded the ship for nine days and it never returned to port.
UW Libraries has created a research guide that provides more history and context on the schooner, model ship and poem. It also features a 3D image of the model ship produced by the UW Libraries Digital Collections Office. To view the research guide, go to https://uwyo.libguides.com/SchoonerWyoming.