The "Master and Commander" on the Mesa - Part 1
Oh, the stories he could tell! For almost 30 years, Captain Charles Porter Low sailed the seas in the days when clipper ships raced around the globe. He settled on the Mesa in 1873, and spent four decades on his 80-acre farm south of Cliff Drive and east of Meigs Road.
He went to sea as a teenager, and by age 23, he was captain of his own ship. Clipper ships, some of which exceeded 200 feet in length, had three masts and carried more than a dozen sails.
In his autobiography, Some Recollections by Capt. Charles P. Low, he wrote of his childhood in Brooklyn, New York:
"I was, at a very early age, inclined to seek salt water. My mother told me that as soon as I could crawl, I went for it, and I remember as far back as I remember anything that to be on and in the water was my supreme delight."
As a teenager, his interest in the sea continued. He recalled how he and his friends would "go to the wharves and on board ships, and climb over the rigging, amusing ourselves by jumping on the cotton bales that were piled up for shipment. I would go to the masthead of the ships, but I could not get the other boys above the topmast-head."
He went to sea in 1842 at age 18. After serving in various capacities on several different ships, he was made captain of the clipper ship Houqua in 1848 at age 24. But he nearly died on one of those early voyages. More about this in next week's Mesa Memories Monday.