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Potomac River Dory Boat

An African American waterman and his crew tonging for oysters from his dory boat off Broomes Island in the Patuxent River, c. 1930. Photographer unknown. Collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD.
An African American waterman and his crew tonging for oysters from his dory boat off Broomes Island in the Patuxent River, c. 1930. Photographer unknown. Collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime
Museum, St. Michaels, MD.

When the oystering industry boomed in the years after the Civil War, oystermen working the Potomac and Patuxent rivers tonged from boats like these. They were bigger than the older “Black Nancy” boats and they have a V-shaped bottom instead of a flat bottom. This meant more room for oysters and a more seaworthy boat—traits no doubt appreciated by watermen venturing into the more open waters of the mouths of the Potomac and Patuxent rivers to find new oyster bars. Dory boats stood out from other, typically white workboats, because they were traditionally painted with green, red, and yellow stripes.

Built: 1931, Banks O’Dee, MD, by Frances Raymond “Peg Leg” Hayden

Length: 37 ft, 10.5 in (11.31m)

Beam: 12 ft, 7 in (3.87 m)

Draft: 2 ft, 8 in (.85 m)

Potomac River dory boat, 1931. Collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD. Gift of Calvert Marine Museum. 88-43-1.

Donations to the Annual Fund generously support the maintenance of the Potomac River Dory Boat, as well as our other restoration, education, and exhibition programs.

See more photos of the Potomac River Dory in this Flickr Album:
Floating Fleet: Potomac River Dory, 1931 oystering boat