The most harrowing trip the Jeanie Johnston took to North America has a little-known connection to Portland.
It was far too late in the season for the Jeanie Johnston to cross the ocean, Miles explained, and the ship was overloaded with more people than was allowed by nautical law.
They hit some serious storms that prevented them from coming into Quebec City. Then they ran out of food and water, so they had to make an emergency stop in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
“It’s a pretty remarkable story,” Miles said. “Some of them came (to Portland) by steamer right after they got off the ship. A group of about 56 of them were so shell shocked from being on board that they tried to stay and make a go of it in New Brunswick. But they ran out of food. The railroad had said they would hire them, but then wouldn’t.
“And so they walked to the customs official in the middle of a blizzard and asked him for help, and he couldn’t help. And so in the middle of this storm, they literally set out on foot and followed Route 1 all the way down.”
It was February in Maine, but all of the hungry, penniless, weary Irish immigrants made it to Portland alive.