Artist Louis D. Norton’s Firsthand Account of the Wandby Shipwreck

Kennebunkport artist Louis D. Norton frequently appears in my stories as does the shipwreck of the British freighter Wandby. Louis Norton made several pastels of the Wandby wreck on March 9, 1921, the day she went aground near Walker’s Point. The next day, he wrote a letter to his Turbat’s Creek summer neighbor, Burton S. Flagg, telling him all about the wreck and urging him to come “down” from Andover, MA to see it for himself.
“Dear B,
Great doings here. Of course, you read of the big vessel coming ashore. If she had gone her length further, she would have been in the Great Pond. There at Ballast Beach this side of Walkers, where the coal vessel came ashore. ??? a black fog. and we all heard her blowing as she came to the westward of Bumpkin Island, ran offshore bound for Portland. It was her first land since ??? Algiers. She struck with a great roar like thunder and the men’s voices were heard clear over here.
I was on my way over and got there just after she struck. Wash ??? and Leon Griffin were there when I arrived. I was onto her almost before the fog allowed me to make out her great bulk. I came home and got my colors and made two pictures in the fog.
In the afternoon it cleared for a moment and as the sunlight struck her black upper body with a great mass of rust stain of orange, crimson, yellow and green below and dark fog effect at sea it was a weird and imposing scene I can assure you.
In no time the news was everywhere and crowds came to wonder. The cutter and 3 big the tug’s report not much to be done as they can’t get near enough to pull on her. Her bow is out at low tide – half her length and she leaks a mid-ship and in the bow. I went down under her and it is impressive to look up some 75 or 100 ft and wonder what you would feel like if she decided to break in two all at once. The opinion is she will always stay there. Its funny to look from your house and in place of Walker’s house see that boat, as tho’ she were in the Cleaves pasture.
Thousands have been to see her and the movie man was here yesterday. Take my advice and come down with the family Sunday, or better Sat. – for the late afternoon is best as the rocks show and you can go out to see her then.
Shall make some more pictures for it’s the biggest thing in a way, ever about here.
Love to all
The Kennebunkport Historical Society owns one of those first pastels of the Wandby in the fog. It will be on display in the Louis D. Norton Exhibit at The Pasco Center during Prelude. We plan to celebrate this 40th Prelude with lots of events at the Nott House for children and grownups and there will be a very special tour of Louis D. Norton’s murals on the dining room walls at The Judge Luques House from 3-5pm on December 2nd. Don’t miss this rare opportunity. These murals have not been open to public viewing for almost 20 years. Details and pricing will be posted after November 1st.

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