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A painting of the Thomas W. Lawson

The Thomas W. Lawson was an impressive, 395 foot long ship. She holds the record of being the only 7 masted schooner ever created. Built in 1902, she was named for a wealthy American millionare. She could carry only 19 men though, due to much of her space being needed for cargo. She was designed also with an auxillary engine to help with steering. She cost $250,000 to build. She had 25 sails: 7 main sails gaff rigged (1 to 6 equal size, no. 7, the spanker sail was larger than the others, 7 gaff rigged topsails, 6 staysails, 5 forsails ( jibs: fore staysail, jib, flying jib, jib topsail and balloon jib). Her masts were equal height at 193 feet. She was created for carrying oil in bulk. She wasn't a very good sailor though. Her masts names were always open for disscusion. The orginal plan had been fore to aft, but then that was changed to fore, main, mizzen, spanker, jigger, driver and pusher and all sorts of other ideas. She could carry 5,218 tons of water, 60,000 barrels of oil and 11,000 tons of coal if fully loaded. She had wooden shrouds. and two metal anchors. She made an unknown number of voyages carrying oil to diffrent spots. Then, in 1907 it ended abruptly. On December 13th, Captain George W. Dow and his crew were met by a violent storm in the Scilly Isles. The wind and waves packed a powerful punch on the schooner. Most of her sails were ripped to pieces and only one lifeboat and anchor remained. The following early morning, at 1:15 a.m. she lost her last anchor and she smashed onto a rock near the Isle of Annent. The stern ripped off and the masts broke and fell over the side. The oil barrels were ripped open and many crew menbers died in the black cloud of liquid. Only Captain Dow, the engineer Rowe, and George Allen, who died two days later, survived the terrible wreckage. Four bodies were recovred whole and indentified, and others without arms, heads or legs. They were all buried in a small graveyard on Scilly. These days, the broken wreck lies 56 feet deep and the 7th mast and stern are intact a few yards to the southwest of the main wreckage.

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