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Noank, Conn., was a principal port of the prolific New England lobster fishery in the 19th century. Between 1875 and 1900 her 40 lobstermen set their traps throughout Southeastern New England waters. Many of them used seaworthy Noank sloops, like the Museum’s Breeze, for setting and hauling their traps. During the height of the season in August and September, the fleet often landed 500 lobsters a day, kept alive in wet wells built into the sloops. Many lobstermen had floating “cars” in which they stored up to 600 lobsters before sending them to market in New London and New York, often aboard smacks like the Emma C. Berry. With gasoline power added after 1900, the fishery continued until the fleet and the lobster shacks were devastated in the 1938 hurricane. Thus, no original Noank lobster shacks survive.
Based on lobster shacks in photographs of Noank, this building was constructed in 1981 to house gear typical of the late 19th century. Inside are facilities for building the round-top traps out of oak lath and ribs cut by local sawmills. Reproductions of a lobster car and a lobsterman’s “Noank sharpie” rowing skiff are stored outside.