Placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 1, 1970
This Century Old Behemoth of the Granite Industry is known as the Galamander
It is not known exactly when the first Galamander was built or whether the idea of the big wagons originated in Vinalhaven. Some similar mechanism for moving heavy objects might have been handed down from the war machines of the Greeks and Romans. The origin of the word “Galamander” has never been definitely established. It might be a contraction or distortion of some other word, and the words “salamander,” “galley meander” and others have been advanced in support of the theory. But this is certain – Galamanders flourished in and around Vinalhaven in the hey-day of the granite industry in the 19th century. “Fish Scales and Stone Chips,” a history of Vinalhaven by Sidney L. Winslow, reports: “One outstanding piece of the Bodwell Granite Company’s equipment was the wagon locally referred to as the Galamander. These wagons were a common and familiar sight in Vinalhaven’s former years. Different from other stone wagons the Galamander was equipped with a derrick or lever, to which was attached a rope tackle, and which, hand operated, lifted large pieces of stone from the ground and underslung them between the two rear wheels of the vehicle. In later years wire rope was used in hoisting the stones into place between the wheels, with horses supplying the power. Platform stone, curbings, and other stones which were too large to load on the ordinary stone wagon were transported to the cutting yards or polishing mill and other points by these ponderous vehicles. “They were made of the best oak with iron reinforcements and were almost entirely handmade, the only machine used in their construction being the power trip-hammer used in fashioning the iron work.” The Bodwell Granite Company’s stone wagons, Galamanders, derricks, and some other equipment were painted a shade of blue locally known as “Elder Littlefield Blue” and it came to be the prevailing color for all island stone and farm wagons. The largest, known as Jumbo, was made in Vinalhaven. It was drawn by an eight horse hitch. After the decline of the granite industry there was no use for the Galamanders, and most became victims of the elements. Somehow one survivor in Vinalhaven was rescued by public-spirited citizens and hauled to BandstandPark in the center of the Town where it stood in silent majesty and decay. But it was found that the old Galamander was in such bad shape that it could not be repaired. So a project was started to build a new one using such old metal parts as were still serviceable. A sum of $1900 was raised with the assistance of the Vinalhaven Historical Society, the Park Commission, town officials, and interested friends. E. C. Bryant of Dresden Mills was hired to restore the Galamander. Then on July 4, 1969, this Galamander was dedicated to the Town of Vinalhaven and will serve as a symbol of the industry that practically built this town, and to the men who built the industry. It is hoped that this symbol remains strong and sturdy for many years to come.