Chart of Portland Harbour and Islands, and Harbours Adjacent, Extending from the river Kennebeck to Wood Island and Winter Harbour, drawn from the survey of Des Barres with Additions and corrections by L. Moody.
Although the Embargo Act of 1807 prevented European ships from entering U.S. ports for fourteen months, Portland’s harbor remained one of the busiest on the East Coast. That same year, entrepreneur Lemuel Moody successfully pitched his dream to build the Portland Observatory to a group of local investors, and began construction. Using flag signals, Moody used the tower to alert merchants to the arrival of their vessels for an annual subscription of $5.00. Without the observatory, ships could only be seen from the docks after they rounded Spring Point Ledge (marked with Fort Preble on this map, in present-day South Portland). Moody also used his perch at the observatory to make improvements to Joseph Des Barres’ chart of Portland Harbor, giving copies to his subscribers.
Lemuel Moody, Portland, Maine, 1825-1828
Falmouth Harbor [and] Portland Sound
This is the map Moody used to create his chart of Portland Harbor. When Des Barres published this map, Moody was about 9 years old. A year later, at the height of the American Revolutionary War, Moody served as a waterboy to captains Joseph Pride and John Reed, fueling the young boy’s dream of making a career at sea. At the conclusion of the war, Moody set off to become a ship captain.
Joseph Des Barres, Frederick Wallet, London, 1776
Observation of a Comet
Although the stars are still visible from the observatory today, the light pollution from the growing city has diminished their brilliance. This document describes a bright comet Moody observed from the tower.
Lemuel Moody, Portland, Maine 1819
Whole number of charts struck off D. G. Johnson… Mr. Allen of Boston… Mr. Cullum of Portland
David G. Johnson was a 19th century painter and engraver from New York. But between 1831 and 1835, he set up shop at 4 Market Square, producing maps of the peninsula for the 1834 city directory and engravings for the Portland Nautical Society.
Lemuel Moody, Portland, Maine, 1836