A Seafaring Town
You are standing beside the Indian River in the heart of the 1663 settlement of Killingworth, sited on its protective harbor. In 1838, the shoreline portion parted from northern Killingworth and became Clinton.
The first shipyard was built 1n 1710. Others followed, launching some 182 merchant vessels by 1876. The largest was the three-masted 110-foot ship Sutton. In later years, smaller boatyards specialized in sailing yachts.
Clinton ships traded up and down the Atlantic coast and out to the West Indies. Cargoes included timber, coal, hay, barrel staves, livestock, farm produce, firewood, and rum. 161 captains of sail and steam vessels lived in Clinton.
Most of Clinton's ships were sold to owners from Maine to Cuba. 155 Clintonians invested in ships. The most famous, Charles Morgan (pictured), went on to create a large steamship empire in New York and the Gulf of Mexico.
From the earliest days, fishing was part of Clinton's economy. Clams, oysters, and lobsters were abundant. Fish weirs (traps) once lined the harbor and fish oil was processed in a factory on the east shore.
Clinton's maritime tradition continues, with its popular marinas and moorings serving
yachts and fishermen.
Contributors: Arbor Garden Club · Clinton Historical Society · Town of Clinton