Schooner Governor Stone
Designated National Historic LandmarkRegistered Florida Antique Vessel
National Historic Landmark
Built: Pascagoula, Mississippi, c. 1877
Length: 65'; 40' at waterline
Draft: 3’; loaded 5’; with centerboard down 9’
Hull & Deck: Yellow Cyprus
Spars, boom & gaffs: Heart Pine
The Governor Stone was built by Charles Greiner as a cargo freighter for his chandlery business and named for the first post Civil War Governor of Mississippi. Governor Stone is the last survivor of a class of vessels once numbering in the thousands. It originally carried equipment and materials to deep-draft ships lying off shore, and hauled general freight between ports along the Gulf Coast. For 60 years this schooner was a fishing vessel and an oyster buy boat. It is rumored Governor Stone was a “rum runner” during Prohibition, reportedly offloading larger vessels from Cuba, making two trips per month and grossing $500 on each run.
During World War II it was operated as a training vessel for the Merchant Marine by the War Shipping Board.
Although sunk twice and twice beached by hurricanes, Governor Stone survived. The first beaching occurred during a storm in 1878 the year after Governor Stone was launched. The first sinking occurred on September 26, 1906, when a fleet of several schooners was caught by a hurricane in Herron Bay, Alabama. The Governor Stone capsized and the captain, Thomas Burns, was washed ashore clinging to a skiff, the sole survivor of the 22 men serving aboard the lost schooners. Thrust 300 yards inland in a marsh, Governor Stone was rolled back into the water on pine logs, repaired for $600, and put back into service carrying oysters from South Mobile Bay to markets in the city of Mobile.
The vessel was built as, and remains, a two masted, gaff-rigged, centerboard equipped schooner. These shallow draft vessels were specifically built for “coasting,” the transport of cargo in the shallow Gulf and river waters from one Gulf Coast port to another from the early 19th century to around World War II. Their ability to navigate the sandbar laden shallows of the Gulf provided much of the economic engine responsible for the development and emergence of the coastal South.
Governor Stone’s sails were first augmented with a 16 horsepower outboard engine in 1923. This was replaced with a 50 horsepower Gray engine in 1940, a 110 horsepower Chrysler Marine engine in the early 1980s, and the current Perkins diesel in 1989.
Governor Stone Today
The Governor Stone has been a yacht club committee boat and a pleasure craft. Now the restored vessel is devoted to educational programming and historic and cultural tourism. As it floats today,Governor Stone embodies maritime heritage as a moving museum and a reminder of the romantic period and 130+ year old hard working traditions of the Gulf Coast.
The vessel was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1990 through the United States Department of the Interior. Now owned and maintained by the 501(c)(3) non-profit group Friends of the Governor Stone, Inc., the vessel is an enhancement to cultural, historical, and ecological education and community events along the Northwest Gulf Coast. History and maritime construction explanations will be available as well as narrated sailing experiences covering the history of the vessel, the history of the schooner fleet, and the times and people that fleet supported.
Governor Stone is currently docked at The Landing in Downtown Fort Walton Beach.
Come and visit today!