Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adirondack Guide Boats

One of the iconic images of the region is the Adirondack guide boat. A cousin of the canoe -- and sometimes mistaken for them -- the guide boat uses fixed oars rather than paddles to propel the craft across the water. Guide boats first appeared in the Adirondacks in the early 1800's as a way for professional sporting guides to transport their clients (called "sports") through the mountains. Hired by "sports," guides would use local knowledge and wilderness skills to give the clients opportunities to hunt and fish. 

Photo of a guide and a sport in a guide boat circa 1890. Photo via the Adirondack Museum, attributed to Seneca Ray Stoddard.
Guide boats are now considered a work of art throughout the Adirondacks. Museums and historical institutions often display classic examples of guide boats. The Sagamore Great Camp National Historic Landmark located near Woodcraft in Raquette Lake features a boat builder who works in the old style. Woodcraft is fortunate to own a fiberglass reproduction of a guide boat. Campers have the opportunity to row the water of Kan-Ac-To in the same method as the guides from two centuries ago. For further information on the guide boat, find a copy of Kenneth Durant's The Adirondack Guide-boat.

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