Captain's Log: Voyages in the Age of Steam
revisits the glamour and spectacle of steamship travel in Gilded Age America and celebrates the central role played by the Plant Line in the creation of multiethnic Tampa.
Come aboard with Captain James Decker as his surviving logbook entries vividly bring to life the S.S. Mascotte's
Caribbean voyages. Beginning in 1886, the Plant System Line carried people, goods, and the U.S. mail between Port Tampa and Key West, Florida; Havana, Cuba; Mobile, Alabama; and the West Indies. Soon, Vincente Martinez Ybor brought the first fifty families of cigar workers to Tampa, propelling what had been a tiny community to the forefront of the industrial New South. To this day, local families recount tales of their forbears embarking on the Mascotte
and the S.S. Olivette
to create the factories, neighborhoods, businesses, and social clubs that provided the foundation for community life. Captain's Log
presents photographs, artifacts, original passenger lists, and rare ephemera to reveal why the diverse people of Tampa embraced a fanciful rendering of the S.S. Mascotte
as the symbol of the city they built.
Across the nation, steamships came to redefine popular culture, symbolizing luxury, technological advance, and modernity. Recently acquired photographs allow visitors to experience the grandeur of Henry Plant's S.S. La Grande Duchesse
, a symbol of Gilded Age excess. The vessel interrupted its normal route between Boston, Massachusetts, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, for an excursion that would link it forever to the surviving passengers of the R.M.S. Titanic.
Of course, this tragedy underscores the danger as well as the romance of steamship travel at the turn of the twentieth century. Experience the full range of these experiences in the Henry B. Plant Museum's exciting new exhibit!
To commemorate the exhibit's launch, the Henry B. Plant Museum is proud to host a special panel discussion on September 8, 2023 at 7:30 pm in the Music Room. This event is free and open to the public. Join Jennifer Dietz (City of Tampa Archives and Records Manager), Holden Rasmussen (Company Historian, J.C. Newman Cigar Co.), E.J. Salcines (Retired Appellate Judge, District Court of Appeals), and moderator Dr. Charles McGraw Groh (Henry B. Plant Museum Historian in Residence) for "Seal of Approval: The S.S. Mascotte
as the Symbol of Tampa."
This exhibit is graciouly underwritten by:
Revisit the glamour and spectacle of steamship travel in Gilded Age America!