A lucky group of 10 students will board Banks Dories to investigate the history of the River Powow during a three-day ‘Exploring the Past on the Powow’ program.
A collaboration between Lowell’s Boat Shop (LBS) and the Amesbury Carriage Museum (ACM) Industrial History Center (IHC), the program will include not only history but also rowing, rowing on the Merrimack River as well as the Powow.
Don’t worry, day one will include rowing lessons and everyone is required to wear life jackets at all times.
“This is our first collaboration and we are thrilled with it,” said Dorothy Antczak, Director of Education at LBS. “Join us for this exciting exploration of the River Powow, a waterway that has played an important role throughout history.
“In the early 17th century (and presumably before that), Native Americans of the Penacook tribe lived in the area and used the Powow River for transportation and fishing. When Europeans settled in what is now Amesbury they were drawn to the Powow for the water power potential of the falls (the river drops approximately 90 feet through the center of Amesbury) to support the early industrial development.
“There is a real natural connection and synergy between Lowell’s Boat Shop and the Amesbury Carriage Museum,” said Jessica Neuwirth, ACM’s Director of Engagement and Interpretation. “We are connected by the river, which has driven the boating industry and driven the mills and connects us all to the world. The reason the city is here is the falls and the energy we get from the falls and the deep waters of the Merrimack to launch boats.
Located on the Merrimack, Lowell’s Boat Shop is considered the oldest continuously operating boat shop in the United States. It has had a continuous establishment of wooden boat building since 1793 and is considered the birthplace of the American Dory. The Lowell boat building business began on the north bank of the Merrimack River in the last decade of the 18th century and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. In 1990 it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990 .
Lowell’s Boat Shop was the main dory shop in America in the late 19th century, and dories are still produced in the old buildings today.
In 2006, Lowell’s was purchased by Lowell’s Maritime Foundation, an independent, non-profit group whose mission is to preserve and perpetuate the art and craft of wooden boat building and to promote the history of Lowell’s Boat Shop and surrounding area.
The goal of LBS’s educational programs is to instill in young people a sense of work and pride, to foster a passion that will advance LBS’s mission, and to train the next generation of stewards of our maritime heritage.
What better way to “nurture this passion” than to get students rowing down rivers and seeing history for themselves? “Exploring the Past on the Powow” is the first of this year’s LBS youth summer programs.
“It’s place-based education,” Antczak said. “We try to teach the children where they are and what this river really is. There are natural features along the river, making it particularly well suited for development. It is a highway to civilization.
“We’ll show kids before and after photos of what they’ll see of Powow when it was a working mill town, how it changed and why.”
Looking at pictures is one thing, but getting on a Banks Dory and rowing back up the river is another. The first day of the three-day program involves learning to row.
“We chose this time for the tides,” Antczak said. “You can’t go that far up the river at low tide. We row with the tide. It’s full when you get to the Powow.
They’ll walk into town from their landing spot near Heritage Park in the Lower Millyard and walk to the Upper Millyard where they’ll meet staff at the ACM Industrial History Center for an in-depth look at the history of Amesbury Water Power.
They will learn about the mills and other industries that existed along the Powow, get a sense of how water power works, and practice grinding corn with a mortar and pestle as it was done before grain mills or flour only make the process easier and more efficient. .
“We’ll talk about how water power works, why early settlers needed to harness water power,” Neuwirth said, “and we’ll focus on flour mills and the grinding of different grains. . Flour mills are among the oldest mills in existence. They will learn how a mill works and how to grind grain and then eat it.
“Grain which, fortunately, is used to make pizza,” Antczak said.
Students will then feast on a flatbread pizza lunch before descending from Powow down the Merrimack to Lowell’s Boat Shop.
“On the third day we will have other rowing activities,” said Antczak, “and explore different sections of the river, old stone piers and quays. They will experience history in a hands-on way, what it means to be on the river and to have the river as a transportation route.
“Exploring the Past on the Powow” will take place from Monday, June 27 at 9 a.m. to Wednesday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Suggested ages for the program are 9 to 14 years old. A maximum of 10 students will be accepted.
LBS summer youth programs will continue with ‘Build Your Own Pond Yacht’, ‘Building with Flotsam and Jetsam’, ‘The Expedition to Indian Creek’, ‘Castaways – An Adventure for Kids’, ‘Vikings on the Merrimack” and “Swamp Madness.
For complete program information and to register, go to http://lowellsboatshop.com/education/summer-youth-programs.