News : Gundalow Gatherings Teaches Children and Adults About the Seacoast's Maritime History

Apr 23, 2015

Originally published on Seacoast Online and Portsmouth Patch.

By Corey Lim

PORTSMOUTH – The rivers of the Piscataqua Region are the veins running through the seacoast’s historic maritime region, connecting commerce, trade, people and history. Between 1690 and 1900, the vessels that dominated these waters of the Piscataqua Region were gundalows – flat-bottom, shallow drafted cargo barges reaching 70 feet in length. These unique ships helped shape the way business ran throughout the seacoast region, transporting goods and people before roads and bridges were viable options. But as the rail system became the preferred method of trade, gundalows, and the waterways of the seacoast, fell out of favor. Today, The Gundalow Company, a non-profit organization based in Portsmouth, uses educational programs aboard recreation gundalow ships to ensure that the people of today and tomorrow understand the significance of the region’s maritime heritage and environment.

On April 25 the Gundalow Company will host the 4th Annual Gundalow Gatherings, a night of food, drinks and conversation focused on the area’s maritime history and future conservation. Attendees of the fundraising event can choose between nine dinner locations held at the homes of the hosts in Portsmouth, Kittery and York, Maine. All of the evening’s proceeds support the Gundalow Company’s 2015 education programs.

According to the Gundalow Company’s Operations Director, Sue Cobler, the Gundalow Company’s award-winning education programs help to connect younger generations to their natural environment, as well as its history, to foster future generations of river stewards. Cobler credits the hand-ons experience students are given to work step aboard a replica gundalow and sail the Piscataqua River, learning how to operate the vessel.

“The cultural and natural history of the area comes alive as students join the gundalow crew,” Cobler said.

For Cobler the fundraising events, like the Gundalow Gatherings, are important to make educational programs like hers accessible to all students, regardless of their ability to pay.

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