Hull Gut and Boston Harbor

Hull Gut and Boston Harbor:

I have lived in the town of Hull for the past 16 summers.  Hull is a long peninsula that juts into Boston Harbor.  At the very tip of Hull, there is a water channel called Hull Gut.  The channel is cut between the end of the Hull peninsula and the eastern edge of Peddocks Island.  Hull Gut is an important waterway for commercial and pleasure watercraft.  I have been by the shore many times and also sailed through it on occasion.  The current there is extremely strong as the Boston Harbor and the Hull / Hingham Bay ebb and flow (in and out) through the narrow Gut.  Hull Gut leads to the Fore River Channel, which provides safe passage through Quincy.

This local waterway allowed Boston to grow as a city.  Additionally, with the strong seafaring history in Boston Harbor, it is not a coincidence that the first Coast Guard Station is located less than a half of a mile from Hull Gut.

In 1932, Congressional hearings stated that 50% of freight into Boston came by water (Weymouth, 17).  This hearing also highlighted the importance of the Hull Gut over the West Gut, which is west of Peddocks island.

The negatives of Hull Gut are the narrowness, strong current, and a few rocks at 16ft (low water).  However, the advantage of Hull Gut is that it allows large vessels a consistent passage throughout the year.

The 27ft (low water) channel allows ships of nearly any size to cross although they might have to wait for ideal tides.  The Hull Gut is less prone to fog throughout the year and icing over.  While it has less current, the West Gut requires a 90-degree turn that is a very difficult maneuver for larger vessels.  Additionally, there is a 3.4 miles extra distance to West Gut, costing time and money.  For these reasons, an estimated 80% of large tug-guided vessels used the Hull Gut (HouseDocuments).

The Congressional hearings that provided this information were a result of a request to maintain these channels by the Army Core of Engineers.  Maintenance like this (dredging) allows a wider window for boats to cross while also making it a safer passage.

The request was granted and has helped increased commerce ever since.  In WWII, Quincy harbor served as a location for a major shipyard that supplied the US armed forces.   Nowadays, tankers use the Hull Gut to access Quincy oil and natural gas plants.  These service Boston as well as surrounding communities.


Myer’s Delta Urbanism:

The Netherland’s evolution of the Dutch Delta was an immense project.  The scale is not even comparable to the Hull Gut.  However, in both instances, the evolution of various alternatives led to success.  For example, in 2006, a competition was held to find the best design for the future of Lake IJmeer between Amsterdam and Almere.

The author also states that the Dutch Delta is vital to Holland’s economic well-being.  The same is true for Hull Gut.

Finally, both Hull Gut and the Dutch Delta will always be challenged by various forces of nature, including climate change.

Map Hull Harbor

Work Cited:

“Weymouth Fore River, Mass.” Allegheny River, Pennsylvania and New York, United States. Congress. House. Committee on Rivers and Harbors, 1932, p. 17.

House Documents: Examinations of Rivers and Harbors. 76th Congress, 2d and 3d Sessions, 1939.

Map referenced GoogleEarth


4 thoughts on “Hull Gut and Boston Harbor

  1. I like the way your map makes the Hull Gut visible for those of us who wouldn’t otherwise see it, and in a way it would be to those to whom it matters–sailors, captains, and those involved in commerce. We (the rest of us) don’t usually think of waterways as ‘places.’


  2. Your map is what first drew me to this post; it’s very impressive and detailed and I enjoyed looking at it. I went to Boston a few years ago and, coming from a place with basically a straight shoreline that runs north-south, I was completely baffled by all the inlets, islands, and peninsulas of Boston Harbor. Hull Gut is one of those important features that, to the layman’s eye, looks just like another confusing and small geographic feature. Your map really puts it all in context though, and it was very interesting to read your description of its incredible importance and history.


  3. I really enjoyed reading this post, as it was very well-written. As Joy said, it is quite clear that you spent time researching the topic, and consequently produced clear and concise work. Something that caught my eye, in particular, was your note of the author’s tribute to the water for boosting Holland’s economy. When you mentioned Hull Gut’s stimulus on the local economy, it prompted me to think about how the water economically impacts my hometown, which was one of the main topics of my post. Overall, very well done, and thank you.


  4. Hi Zach,

    It was really interesting learning more about Hull Gut. It’s evident that you really researched the history of the peninsula and relayed it’s significance well. Your connection of Hull Gut in Boston Harbour to the Dutch Delta, is key and relevant to many water systems and bodies of water within and around cities. Water ways are, of course, extremely important factors that support the livelihoods of those within cities, and through your brief record of Hull Gut, Boston’s utilisation of the peninsula supports this.


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