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End of the Line

Closing the Last Sardine Cannery in America

Markham Starr

Publication Year: 2013

At one time, sardines were an inexpensive staple for many Americans. The 212 photographs in this elegant volume offer a striking document of this now vanished industry. Generations of workers in Maine have snipped, sliced, and packed the small, silvery fish into billions of cans on their way to Americans' lunch buckets and kitchen cabinets. On April 15, 2010, Stinson's Seafood, once the home of Beach Cliff Sardines, shut down the packing line that had made the name world famous. Begun in 1927, Stinson's empire eventually included sardine canneries spread along the Maine coast and a fleet of ships to supply them. With this closing, however, the end of the entire sardine industry in Maine had finally arrived. Photographer Markham Starr was privileged to spend several days at the Stinson factory in Prospect Harbor, one month before it was dismantled, emerging with a collection of remarkable images that transform the parts of the cannery into works of art and capture the resilience of the workers faced with the loss of jobs many had held for decades. This book includes a short essay, and shows the heartland of Maine at its finest.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. 1-1

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End of the Line

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pp. 2-5

This book is a 2013 selection in the Driftless Connecticut Series, for anoutstanding book in any field on a Connecticut topic or written by a...


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pp. 6-6


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pp. 7-7


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pp. 8-9


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pp. vii-11

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pp. ix-15

I first heard of Stinson Seafood, in the Maine village of Prospect Harbor, shortly before its closing was announced on my local public radio station. After thinking about the 128 people who would soon lose their jobs in the perpetually depressed economy of Down East Maine, I began to wonder what this particular closing meant to the history of Gouldsboro, the town that had housed this business since its inception nearly...

END OF THE LINE [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 1-210

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A Typical Day at the Plant, As Described

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pp. 211-212

On a normal day of full production — start cutting at 5:00 a.m. That gave them an hour-and-a-half jump on the packing line. At 6:30 a.m. packing started. Sealing depended on the packing type — if they were doing sardines, which were much faster to pack and cook, sealing would start at 7:30. Fish steaks meant a 10:00 a.m. start time for sealing. The retort operator would have to come in early to do a PM (preventive maintenance) on the retorts...

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Final Impressions

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pp. 213-214

When I first toured the Stinson cannery in operation, the plant made a distinct impression on me. To begin with, it was an enormous facility, covering thousands and thousands of square feet. The noise within required workers to wear hearing protection throughout the day, as aluminum cans coursed along raceways, speeding through various machines. Water sprayed into the air as fish were flumed from place to place, and steam poured...

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pp. 215-231

I would like to thank each and every person at Stinson Seafood for allowing me to photograph them as they worked in those difficult last days of the plant’s operation. Despite the added stress this undoubtedly caused them, they were all kind, helpful, and understanding, and I am truly thankful that they allowed me to capture this portion of their lives...

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About the Author

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pp. 232-233

Markham Starr is a photographer and author. His books include Building a Greenland Kayak, Down on the Farm: The Last Dairy Farms of North Stonington, Against the Tide: The Commercial Fishermen of Point Judith, Voices from the Wa...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819573469
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819573452

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867740574
MUSE Marc Record: Download for End of the Line

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Subject Headings

  • Stinson Seafood -- History.
  • Fish canneries -- Maine -- History.
  • Canned sardines -- Maine -- History.
  • Canned fish industry -- Maine -- History.
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