Shaker Museum

Engine, Steam

Steam engine built by Elder Granville Merrill, Sabbathday Lake, ME


Object ID
Merrill, Granville

Cast iron steam engine with "governor" consisting of two balls 2 1/2" in diameter. Iron flywheel, 19 1/4" in diameter and 2 1/8" thick, attached to one side. Circular block of wood, comprised of six sections (9" in diameter by 4 3/4" thick), bolted to the outside, center of the wheel. Four slightly curved cast iron legs, 17" long, bolted into wood rectangular supports that are 52" x 3 1/4".


Selling poplarware to the world was an important source of income for the Maine Shakers. To assure a steady supply of raw material for poplarware, the Shaker craftsmen developed steam-driven splitting machinery. This steam engine powered a machine that split poplar for wood used for making bonnets, baskets, and other fancy goods made by the sisters at Sabbathday Lake. The engine was manufactured by Granville Merrill (1839-1878), a mechanic who joined the Sabbathday Lake Shakers when he was 29. Merrill involved himself in the sale of poplarware in ways beyond building this steam engine: he travelled to resort hotels at Bar Harbor and Orchard Beach to sell fancy goods made by the sisters. The Museum has in its collection an outdoor clock made by Merrill, which marked the passing hours by ringing a nautical bell (#1957.10390.1). The Sabbathday Lake Shakers benefited from Merrill's mechanical talents and inventiveness late into his life. An 1876 entry in the Sabbathday Lake Church Journals records: "Brother Granville Merrill moved his little engine, machinery and tools from south chamber in Brethren shop to south lower rooms in boys house. He made a new cast iron boiler for his engine and took old boiler to the mill to be used for steaming measures."[1] [1] Sabbathday Lake Church Journals, VI, Number 3, p. 112, transcribed in The Shaker Quarterly VI, Number 4 (Winter 1996) 124.

The Aletheia: The Spirit of Truth, by Aurelia Mace, p. 125



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Shaker Museum Engine, Steam. Accessed on August 14, 2022


1957.10390.1a-e - Clock - Clock assembled by Elder Granville Merrill, Sabbathday Lake, ME


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