drift boat

“Young adventurers” laid groundwork for tourism

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VIDA: “About 1914 something kind of magical happened,” according to Randy Dersham, president of the McKenzie River Drift Boat Museum. The magic came about when log trucks replaced river drives as the most economical way of getting timber to sawmills combined with the creation of a graded road that drew recreationists up from Eugene who wanted to fish a pristine river.
“The young men that were log drivers in the homesteads around here at the time started to guide around 1920,” Randy told the gathering at last Saturday’s Eugene Symphony fundraiser.
The young entrepreneurs soon found the “Old Scow” design used to corral heavy logs wasn’t all that maneuverable when it came to avoiding rocks and rapids in fast water.
Credited with the first major advance in boat design was John West who opted for a wider craft that could seat two people side-by-side. Built out of fairly thick 3/4 inch boards and weighing around 500 lbs. It wasn’t a lightweight, except in comparison to the “Old Scows.”

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.