The side trawler Alice M. Doughty II sits on her side in the mud after a collision with a South Portland bridge in 1952. The vessel, built in Boothbay Harbor in 1930, was later re-floated but sand in January 1957 after a tanker sliced off her bow. The crew escaped safely, rowing away in a dory and life raft. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum's National Fisherman Magazine collection

Famed New England journalist Leo L. Chabot was there, saw it happen and got the photo to prove it.

In the picture, later published in National Fisherman magazine, two men struggle to save a wooden lobster boat on the rocks in Rockland during a 1971 winter gale.

One man steadies himself, hanging onto a piling, while the other struggles to fasten a tow rope. Fierce, wind-driven combers breach the starboard rail and threaten to wash him away. Foaming wave tops, slashed into airborne ribbons, fill the air around both of them.

Two men fight to save a lobster boat on the rocks at Rockland during a 1971 winter gale in a photograph made by storied New England journalist Leo L. Chabot. A Coast Guard vessel attempted to tow her to safety but the 38-foot fishing boat began to sink and the rescue boat had to cut the towline. She then drifted onto the breakwater and eventually split almost in two. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum's National Fisherman Magazine collection

The dramatic,  50-years-old black-and-white picture is silent, but viewers are instantly transported back in time, hearing the howling wind and tasting the thundering seaspray on their lips.

Such is the power of a photograph.

Luckily for us, the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport has at least 200,000 more amazing pictures where that one came from.

Chabot’s photo is part of the museum’s National Fisherman magazine collection, which contains about 25,000 pictures, covering the 1940s through the 1990s. The magazine donated its entire pre-digital archive to the museum in 2012.

The shipwreck photos presented are only a thin filet of what the collection has to offer scholars and casual viewers.

Clockwise, from left: Folks standing on a Rockland dock get a look at a sunken sailboat in an undated photo in the National Fisherman Magazine collection at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport; The sloops Andiamo (left) and Fire Bird sit high and dry on the rock in Camden after a storm in an undated photo; Dennis Moore (left) and Maynard Thibodeau, working from adjoining boats, tow the partially submerged Carol Jane back to Robinhood Marina in Georgetown in 1964. The Carol Jane was later completely refurbished. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum’s National Fisherman Magazine collection

The broad-ranging archive reveals the compelling, gritty world of commercial fishing. The collection of prints and negatives originally accompanied stories and advertisements in the magazine. They show emerging technology, as well as everyday fisherfolk hauling nets, processing the catch, repairing trawlers, building boats and setting Coast Guard buoys.

“If you collect news long enough, eventually, it becomes history,” said Matt Wheeler, digital collections curator at the museum.

National Fishermen is still published by Diversified Communications. It’s headquartered on Free Street in Portland. It covers the fishing industry all over the country. It began publishing in Camden in 1946 as Maine Coast Fisherman. Over the ensuing decades, the company bought and consolidated several regional fisheries magazines. It became known as National Fisherman in 1960.

It took the Marine museum about seven years to digitize, research and catalog all the donated images, finishing in 2019.

At left: People clamor aboard the 50-foot trawler Walborg as she rests on her side after being driven ashore in Camden in 1980; at right: A man in foul weather gear stands on the ice-covered Casco Bay shore, near Trundy Point in 1973, looking at a coast guard boat and the fishing vessel Alton A after a storm. The Coast Guard boat was saved but the Alton A. foundered. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum’s National Fisherman Magazine collection

Chabot had a long journalism career. He spent 22 years at The Eagle-Tribune in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and was the Sunday editor for a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Previously, Chabot worked as a reporter and photographer at the Rockland Courier-Gazette and Bangor Daily News.

He died in 2017.

But, thanks to National Fisherman’s donation — and the efforts of the Penobscot Museum — his photo is still available to historians, journalists and photographers alike.

Photographer John A. Olsen of Bailey Island made this picture of a police officer inspecting what was left of the 42-foot lobster boat Spring Tide after it was destroyed by fire in 1980. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum's National Fisherman Magazine collection

Anyone can browse the museum’s complete, rich collection of 200,000-or-so pictures. They’re all online and searchable by keyword, location and subject.

Wheeler said the museum is gearing up for a 2023 gallery show which will highlight the magazine’s deep image archive. He also said a researcher is currently using the photos in preparation for a forthcoming book about the magazine.

“There’s a lot more we can learn,” Wheeler said. “The collection is so massive.”

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.