‘Wharfside Stories’ help unwrap history of Portland’s working waterfront

By Kate Irish Collins for The Forecaster

PORTLAND — For more than 60 years Leland Merrill has made a daily pilgrimage to Widgery Wharf on the city’s waterfront.

These days Merrill, now in his early 90s, no longer works a lobster boat, but he still has many friends on the wharf.

Merrill’s tales of life and work among the lobstermen based in Portland Harbor is part of a new collaboration between the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and the Waterfront Alliance.

The project, called “”Wharfside Stories”,” provides a look at various aspects of Portland’s working waterfront. It will be part of an exhibition that’s open to the public during the day-long Portland Unwrapped event taking place Wednesday at various venues throughout the city.

The “Wharfside Stories”” project is designed to “help people understand the piers, the ships, the buildings, the tanks and the people,” that make up the waterfront, where commercial fishing ventures and newer uses are now mixing, according to Tom Meyers of the Waterfront Alliance.

The audiovisual stories recorded under the wharfside series were funded by the Waterfront Alliance, whose mission is to protect and promote the Port of Portland. The tales were then added to the Casco Bay Stories collection, which is a project of the estuary partnership.

Overall, Meyers said, the “Wharfside Stories” series “inspires us to reflect on the value of the working harbor to our region’s economy, environment and sustainable future.”

Some of the stories featured online at include a look at the tugboats that are integral to shipping traffic in the harbor and the new freight terminal adjacent to the Casco Bay Bridge, among others.

PressJustin Levesque