The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
- A good, sharp knife is an essential tool for fishermen working on the fish deck of a catcher-processor. Aboard the Alaska Ocean, each deckhand carries a “Vicky,” shorthand for a Victorinox knife. This example is 7.5 inches long, including the handle. It is used for mending nets, cutting lines, and for general duties like cutting up cardboard for the on-board incinerator. The holder for this knife has weathered a lot of use, evidenced by the tape repairs.
- In a June 2007 interview with deck boss Brent Walter (who was in his twelfth year working on the Alaska Ocean) and deckhands Ben Boyok and Matt Prebezac (who had been with the Alaska Ocean for seven years and two years, respectively), they agreed that net repair was the hardest part of the job. The main difficulty involves learning to conceptualize the repair. Because the net mesh is so huge, it takes time and experience to understand how to make the repair correctly. At the time, the Alaska Ocean was fishing in waters about 50 miles off the coast of Washington State and using a mid-water trawl. Repairs to the nets were minimal. The deckhands expected to do more net repair later in the season when the vessel moved to the Bering Sea, where the nets get torn from bottom-fishing.
- The Alaska Ocean is a 376-foot-long vessel in the Seattle-based catcher-processor fleet. Workers catch, process, package, and freeze groundfish—mostly pollock and Pacific whiting—in the Bering Sea and in the waters off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
- date made
- ca 2007
- Victorinox Swiss Army
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History