Boats Vocabulary


Bar- A bank of sand, gravel, or other materials on a river.  Boats often have difficulty traveling over a bar because it makes the river too shallow


Cargo- Any material, other than people, being transported by boat or ship


Dam- A barrier in a stream or river to control the flow of water or raise the water level


Ferry- A raft or boat used to carry people or things across water.  Today, bridges are more common than ferries.


Freshet- A large rise in water in streams and rivers caused by rain or melting snow.  In the spring, a rise in water in the Allegheny River and area streams allowed boats and rafts to travel downstream.  Man-made freshets can be created by damming a river or stream for a period of time, then cutting the dam and releasing the water.


Flatboat- A flat-bottomed boat is designed to be used in shallow water, and is capable of carrying a large amount of cargo.  Flatboats were usually taken apart and sold for lumber at the end of the journey downriver.


Keelboat- A shallow, covered boat with a keel; used to move freight


Shanty- A small house.  On a raft, the crew slept and often ate in the shanty because it was the only place on the raft where people could be sheltered from the weather.


Shingle- A piece of wood with one end thinner than the other.  Shingles are used for covering roofs.


Skiff- A small sailing vessel or rowboat


Snubbing- Tying up a raft.  Two crew members get ahead of the raft, and taking a rope, which is attached to the raft, one man wraps (snubs) the rope around something solid on the riverbank, such as a tree or rock.  Although the current keeps the raft going, the rope attached to the riverbank pulls and eventually stops the raft.


Steamboat- A boat powered by a steam engine; able to go both up and down rivers


Steersman- A person who steers a boat


Stoven- A tree stump which might snag a boat on the river


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society