December 15, 2017

Legendary Adriaen Block Vessel To Land this Summer at Connecticut River Museum

Onrust under sail. Photo courtesy of the Onrust Project.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum has announced that the Onrust, a replica of the first European vessel to explore and chart the Connecticut River, will rediscover the River this summer.

Following Henry Hudson’s 1609 expedition, Dutch captain Adriaen Block was hired to explore the northeastern coastline of America with the intent of establishing trade with Native Americans and claiming parts of the territory for the Dutch Republic.  On his fourth and final voyage (1613-1614), Block’s ship the Tiger was destroyed by fire while in New York Bay.  Block and his crew went to work near Manhattan building a new vessel – the Onrust (launched in New York Bay in April 1614).

The Onrust investigated coastal New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In the course of his travels, Block became the first known European to travel up the Connecticut River to just north of Hartford (a distance of approximately 60 miles from Long Island Sound).  He recorded the conditions, the places that he saw, and the native people he encountered. 

The impacts of Block’s travels were many.  Upon his return to Amsterdam in July 1614, Block’s explorations, along with the collective knowledge from other expeditions, were documented in the “Figurative Map of Capt. Adriaen Block” — an incredibly accurate map of the northeast region given the navigation and survey instruments of the day. 

Connecticut River Museum Executive Director, Christopher Dobbs stated “We cannot be more thrilled to host this remarkable vessel that has such historic relevance to our region.”  In fact, as Dobbs notes, Block’s discoveries ushered in dramatic changes.  Most notably, the cultural interchanges (often leading to calamitous consequences) between Native Americans and Europeans, colonization, the founding of New Netherland, and the ecological impacts due to global trade.  It was “at least in part thanks to Block’s work that a Dutch trading post was established in 1624 in Old Saybrook and that Hartford [House of Hope] became New Netherland’s eastern-most trading post and fort.”

The re-creation of the vessel was spearheaded by New York based nonprofit The Onrust Project. Following extensive research, the rediscovery of traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques, and the efforts of over 250 volunteers, the vessel was launched in 2009 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site, Rotterdam, NY.  Board Chair and Executive Director of The Onrust Project, Greta Wagle said “The Onrust is an extraordinary, floating museum.  We are very pleased to collaborate with the Connecticut River Museum and share her important stories with River Valley residents and tourists.”

The Connecticut River Museum will host the Onrust from June 1 through early October.  During this time they will offer cruises and dockside tours.  To find out more details about the Onrust’s summer cruises, charters, and upcoming programs please visit the Connecticut River Museum’s website at ctrivermuseum.org.  You can also discover the Onrust yourself by going to The Onrust Project’s website at theonrust.com.

Interested in becoming a volunteer guide this summer aboard the ship?  Contact the Museum’s Education Department at jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The Museum currently has a special exhibition, Connecticut’s Founding Fish, exploring the story of the Shad.

For more information on exhibits and related programs please contact the Connecticut River Museum at 860.767.8269 or visit the website, ctrivermuseum.org.

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