Classics displayed at Wooden Boat Festival
NIMROD: One of the star attractions at the ninth Annual McKenzie River Wooden Boat Festival on Saturday was about 75 years old. The 14-foot plywood drift boat, built by Woody Hindman for Prince Helfrich in 1939, generated some fond memories.
It was orginally set up to accommodate a trap line that ran from the Upper McKenzie to its confluence with the Willamette recalled Prince’s son, Dick Helfrich. That was before knee rests were installed to turn it into a guide’s boat.
“One night we pulled that little boat out on an island, tipped it up, put an oar under it and slept under it,” Dick remembers. “We took the seats out and had a fire out front. That little boat has a lot of history.”
Bringing it back to life has also taken a lot of time. Putting about 100 hours into its restoration was Adam “Dutch” Gottschling. He was careful working around the fir handrails, ribs and knees, not removing a lot of the original harware for fear of breaking it.
Rebuilding history from
the other end, Ben Kahn and ten students at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding used old growth Alaskan yellow cedar, Sitka spruce and white oak to recreate a board and batten craft. The design that Veltie Pruitt developed in the 1920’s, lead to the first boat runs along many of the Pacific Northwest’s rivers.
Image above: A reconstructed plywood boat from the 1930’s, foreground, and a newly built board and batten design were among the examples of craftsmanship on the lodge lawn.
McKenzie River Reflections