New Hampshire Glossary: Gundalow

Silhouette of Merrimack Gundalow; From "Shipping & craft in silhouette; drawing and text by Charles G. Davis, 1929, page 57, Hathi Trust

Silhouette of a Merrimack Gundalow; From “Shipping & craft in silhouette; drawing and text,” by Charles G. Davis, 1929, page 57; located at Hathi Trust.

A Gundalow is a small boat, “a shallow drafted type of cargo barge,” built to be used on rivers and estuaries in the early days of New Hampshire and Maine history.  There are records showing they were also used on the Merrimack River.   A gundalow can be found on the town seals of both Durham and Newington, New Hampshire.

Built to be rowed up the Merrimack River, sometimes with cotton or other supplies for the mills, but generally loaded with salt hay, these shallow gundalows were later fitted with a short mast, low enough to go under Plum Island river bridge, and rigged with a single lateen sail, whose yard was weighted with iron at the lower end to counterbalance the sail and make it easy to hoist. 1866.–“When favoring breezes deigned to blow the square sail of the gundelow.” — Whittier, Snow-bound  [From: From “Shipping & craft in silhouette; drawing and text by Charles G. Davis, 1929, page 57, Hathi Trust]

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