todd's Reviews > The Adirondack Guide Boat

The Adirondack Guide Boat by Kenneth Durant
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Oct 07, 10

Read in September, 2010

This history, written over twenty years ago, was a project sponsored by the Adirondack Museum. It was clearly a labor of love for Durant and his wife, who finished her husband's project after his passing. The first half is a history of the region and the importance of watercraft for the Indians, the earliest settlers, and eventually a major wilderness tourist trade. The classic guide-boat evolved to be both stable enough for "sports" who were not necessarily comfortable on the water, as well as light enough to be taken from lake to lake over what locals call "carries." The history is wonderfully researched using many obscure documents to capture the feeling of the times. It is greatly enhanced through the stories of descendants of the early boat builders who were interviewed in the last years of their lives. The memories from childhood of their fathers and grandfathers, who were the last true wilderness guides and often pioneering boat builders, enhanced the feel of the region in the 19th century.

The second part of the book is devoted to the actual boat designs. Interesting to me on a high level, it would appeal much more to those truly skilled in design and woodworking. These boats are a thing of beauty, and the Adirondack Museum is to be congratulated for preserving so many examples of this art form. It seems clear that the sources and the authors were in the last chapters of their own lives when this work was completed. Their efforts kept this history from slipping into obscurity.
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