Newport News, VA – The Mariners’ Museum and Park announced the discovery of the very first maker’s mark found on the USS Monitor’s turret.
Beginning in August 2016, conservation staff of the USS Monitor Center began using dry-ice blasting technology to remove corrosion on many of the large wrought-iron artifacts within the Monitor collection. This work was financed in part with federal funds from the National Park Service through the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Among the cleaned artifacts were engine room structural bulkheads, gun slides, and the forward and aft diagonal support braces from the ironclad’s turret. During dry-ice cleaning, conservators made a remarkable discovery on the aft diagonal brace. As the corrosion flaked off, a maker’s mark was found stamped into the artifact spelling “ULSTER.”
Research indicates that Ulster Iron Works was located in the town of Saugerties in Ulster County, New York, which is about 100 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. According to the 1884 Directory of Iron and Steel Works of the United States, Ulster Iron Works was built in 1827 and had an annual capacity of 6,700 net tons of iron products. During the Civil War, one of the primary sources of its income was U.S. Navy contracts.
While this firm was never mentioned as a supplier during the Monitor’s construction at Continental Iron Works, it is now believed that Ulster provided materials for modifications to the ship while it was undergoing sea trials at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Museum is still working on deciphering the lineage of the company.
The Mariners’ Museum and Park connects people to the world’s waters because through the water – through our shared maritime heritage – we are connected to one another. The organization is an educational, non-profit institution accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and preserves and interprets maritime history through an international collection of ship models, figureheads, paintings, and other maritime artifacts. The Mariners’ Museum is home to the USS Monitor Center, and is surrounded by the 550-acre Mariners’ Museum Park, the largest privately maintained park open to the public in North America. The Mariners’ Museum Library is the largest maritime library in the Western hemisphere. The Mariners’ Museum has been designated by Congress as “America’s National Maritime Museum.” For hours and information, visit MarinersMuseum.org, call (757) 596-2222 or write to The Mariners’ Museum, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.