Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Quest to Develop an Ozark River Boat


Printed postcard, 1907
The photo appears to depict a family departing for an overnight outing. Boats could be rented from lodges, and self-guided trips were common throughout the float trip era. Both paddles and poles are evident. We wish this group, dressed for Sunday school, all the best as they prepare to drift down the beautiful James in these odd overloaded, probably unstable, pointed-bow skiffs, or punts, or whatever they were called.

The genesis of the square-ended, flat-bottomed boats specifically adapted for commercial floating on the James and White rivers is poorly documented. Many theories have been advanced as to how they were developed, and how they came to be called johnboats.

COMING IN 2017: JAMES FORK OF THE WHITE: Transformation of an Ozark River.  
Sample pages from this new book can be seen at 
Our earlier 'river book,' DAMMING THE OSAGE, can be seen at

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