Already in the Middle Ages, the city of Groningen had the best trade via the waterways. Good shipping connections were therefore important. The Boterdiep was dug in the early seventeenth century. It runs from the Van Starkenborgh Canal at Noorderhoogebrug / Beijum to the harbor in Uithuizen and is 25 kilometers long. It is said to owe its name to the transport of milk products. This connection was very important for the accessibility of North Groningen. Ships could then easily sail on to the Hoogeland.
Sailing boats were replaced around 1650 by tow barges, which were less sensitive to the weather, more comfortable and cheaper. The barge (gasp) had a mast with a towline. Via this line a draft horse pulled the barge along the towpath through the water, accompanied by a snikjong.
In 1659, the Provincial Executive of the City and Ommelande agreed to build a canal cruise route in Hunsingo from Groningen to Onderdendam, Middelstum and Warfhuizen. In 1664, Warffum also became accessible by barge, via the Warffumermaar. In Onderdendam, this offshoot of the Waddenzee connected to the migration route across the Boterdiep. Here it was easy to switch to another scheduled service and travel from Warffum to Uithuizen, for example.
A gasp, sailing barge, from: G. Groenewegen, Collection of eighty-four pieces of Dutch ships, Rotterdam 1789.
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