Manual 12660256

Manual 12660256
103490
$4.95
by John Edwin Hogg
From the towers of Manhattan to the
soaring peaks of the Pacific Northwest,
North America ;~ unbelievably vast and
beautiful. On its waterways, thousands of
motorboat enthusiasts journey for those
thrills and adventures that only trips on the
water afford. Most boatmen are content to
take short cruises. But long-distance cruis
is becoming more and more popular.
Twice across North America by Motorboat
ing
the story of a man who in 1925 made the
transcontinental crossing, from Oregon
to New York. Boating conditions were far
less favorable then than they are now. Last
year, to repeat the journey under the new
conditions, he took an outboard cruiser
coast to coast from East to West.
Vigorous, peppery, 69-year-old John
Edwin Hogg here tells of the excitement,
the problems, and the joys of both his trans
continental trips. In 1925, Hogg and moviecameraman Frank Wilton had an 18-foot
runabout powered by a single outboard en
gine. They camped most of the way along
the 137-day journey. The rivers, particu
larly in the West, were torn by rapids and
floods, which made for hazardous going.
is
first
The 1959 journey, which Hogg made with
young John Richard Dahl, was an adventure
of another kind. This time even handling
the 19-foot, fiber-plass craft, powered by
twin engines much more powerful than the
1925
putt-putt,
was
exciting.
New
marinas
offered hospitality and supplies all along
the way.
Twice across North America by Motorboat
proves once again that boating is fun, and
that long-distance cruising if you do it the
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TWICE
ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
BY
MO TORSOAT
JOHN EDWIN HO GO
ZIFF-DAVIS PUBLISHING
COMPANY
NEW YORK
the Zff-JDavis I>uhlishing
1P6O,
Oo;pyright
rights reserved. This book, or
Gorrrpany.
thereof, may not be reproduced in. any form,
quotations in a
except for tlie inclusion, of
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t>y
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j>arts
>Vtl
t>rief
L,lbrai*y
of Congress Catalog
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PHOTO
1052T
C3R.ET>TTS
^4, ]VIorris Rosenfeld;
,
58-64, John Edwin
S5-57, Stanley KLosenfeld;
^S, John JDahl; p. 66, John 3E- Hogg;
Hogg; I3ave
Sutherland;
68, 14^-151, John E.
67,
154Hogg;John E.1S2-1S3, Stanley Rosenfeld;
Hogg.
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of
PREfACE
did you ever find the route to make such an
unheard-of motorboat voyage possible?"
"How
I
the
began hearing that question in 1925, after I had skippered
motorboat (Transco) to travel across the continent, from
first
Ocean to the Atlantic, over the inland waterways of
the United States and Canada. It was a voyage of 137 days over
5,286 miles of water, and touched the shores of seventeen Ameri
can states and two provinces of Canada.
I had found my route by putting together American history and
the Pacific
geography. The natural topography of the land created every mile
of the route except for the relatively few man-made canals that
we used. The actual pathfinding was done for me by the various
early explorers of the North American continent. They were Henry
Hudson, Samuel de Charnplain, Jacques Cartier, Louis Joliet,
Jacques (Pre) Marquette, Robert de La Salle. They mapped the
waterways from the mouth of the St. Lawrence, through the Great
Lakes, and down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Then, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark made their
the Missouri River, over the Continental
and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific, and
Divide,
back to St. Louis again in 1804, 1805, 1806.
To work out the best boat route from ocean to ocean, I had
historic journey
down
up
the Snake
vii
PREFACE
Viii
only to sketch the history of North American continental explora
tion onto a set of modern maps and charts. I had to go over the
Continental Divide, as Lewis and Clark did, by making a relatively
minor overland journey between the upper Missouri River and
the Snake River at Lewiston, Idaho.
That 400-mile overland
portage, however, is not much when compared with 5,286 miles
of boating on rivers, lakes, and canals that create the problems
and
perils of ever-present contact
with land.
The voyage of Transco II reversed the route of the first Transco
we started from New York City and went through to Astoria,
Oregon, in a leisurely 102 days. John Dahl and I thus became the
first boatmen to cross the continent from east to west. I became
the first and only living person to complete the round trip of
i
10,572 water miles.
JOHN EDWIN HOGG
CONTENTS
7
The Idea Takes Shape
2
"The
Best-Laid Plans
1
..."
4
From Peekskill into Lake Champlain
From Ticonderoga, New York, into
5
Down the Richelieu to Sorel, Quebec
6
From Montreal to Ontario s Trent Waterway
7
Lake Ontario
8
Across Ontario, from Peterborough into
9
From Midland, Ontario, to Manitoulin Island
From Manitoulin Island to St. Ignace, Michigan
From St. Ignace to St. Ignace
From the Straits of Mackinae into Manistique,
3
French Canada
to Peterborough via the
Trent Waterway
Lake Huron
7
7 7
72
14
19
28
37
44
69
78
87
96
105
112
Michigan
73
11
From Manistique to Joliet, Illinois
From Joliet to St. Louis, Missouri
ix
119
126
CONTENTS
X
75
From
76
Up
Louis to Kansas City, Missouri
the Missouri from Kansas City to
St.
Omaha, Nebraska
17
From Omaha to
78
Across South Dakota from Fort Randall to
the Kenel Dogs
7
9
20
Chamberlain, South Dakota
From Kenel to Fort Benton, Montana
From Fort Benton to Astoria, Oregon,
and the Pacific
133
142
168
176
185
194
THE IDEA TAKES SHAPE
In November, 1958, I began toying with an idea
that seemed, at first, almost laughable. As the only living person
ever to travel by motorboat across North America from the Pacific
Ocean to the Atlantic over the inland waterways of the United
and Canada, I seriously wondered if I might not try to do
York
again. This time, however, I hoped to start from
States
it
New
City, reversing the route traversed
by the
late
Frank Wilton and
me
during the summer of 1925.
seemed probable that almost anyone to whom I talked about
my plan would doubt my sanity. Indeed, what man in his right
mind would even think about starting such a project at the age
of sixty-seven after having endured the hardships and hazards of
a similar expedition at the age of thirty-four? Perhaps the last
thirty-four years had erased many memories of those 137 days
afloat hi an 18-foot wooden boat, traveling 5,286 miles over the
rivers, lakes, and canals of seventeen American States and two
It
provinces of Canada. But no, every major detail of the Transco
voyage was still as fresh in memory as it was in 1925. In formu
lating plans for Transco II, I also consulted a collection of old
photographs and the yellowing pages of the Transco log for inci
dents I might have forgotten. I was thinking, of course, in terms
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
2
and
improved boats, vastly improved equipment,
recent
years by gigantic engineering
waterways so changed in
of modern,
resemblance to the wild, uncontrolled
torrents we had endured in 1925. The more I thought about it the
more I became convinced that a similar voyage by a Transco 11
projects that they bear
little
more comfortable, more feasible,
the
than
and more enjoyable
original history-making cruise.
in
1959 should be
infinitely safer,
be able to view this project in the
aware that, in my own
light of my own experience? I was well
on
nation
other
than
in
more
earth, all men past the
any
country
Now, would any one
else
age of sixty-five are supposed to be good only for drawing pensions
and being kindly grandparents. I confided what I was thinking
about to my wife, Ruth. I feared the worst because I knew she
could never forget the mental torture she had endured during
those 137 days in 1925.
She had remained
at
home
in California while
Frank Wilton
were threading our way across the continent in a small, open
boat. For her those were uneasy days of waiting: waiting for my
telegrams, for my letters that were often a week in transit, and for
and
I
the press reports that might bring news of our progress or disaster.
Could she ever forget the horrible words that leaped up at her
one morning from the pages of a California newspaper?
Transcontinental
Motorboatmen
Lost in Lake Michigan
Without Food or Water.
Fortunately, she detected the newspaper error almost the instant
she read it. She knew it was possible for me to be lost in Lake
Michigan
water! Then,
.
.
but not without food and an abundance of potable
just after she read the story, a Western Union mes
.
senger handed her a telegram I d sent from Manistee, Michigan,
with the same date as the newspaper dispatch.
On
at the
the previous day Frank Wilton and I had left Milwaukee
break of dawn, with the announced intention of cruising
some 97 miles almost
straight east across
Lake Michigan
to
Lud-
THE IDEA TAKES SHAPE
3
lake was like a millpond, and we cruised
easily all day, blithely unaware that a minor compass deviation
was pulling us considerably off course to the north. Result:
ington, Michigan.
The
We
missed Ludington by many miles, cruised 120 miles, and found
ourselves off the Manistee pierheads in the summer evening twi
light.
Our
men
Ludington left a group of newspaper
mastheaded on the docks there. They sent the word crackling
failure to arrive in
over the wires:
when
we were
"lost
in
Lake Michigan!"
my wife that I was thinking about attempting
to do the Transco voyage all over again, she was naturally not
Thus,
I told
very enthusiastic. I explained that, this time, if I were successful
in getting the project out of the incubator stage, a bigger and far
better Transco II
would
start
from
New York
City, reversing the
original route and finishing the trip in the Pacific
mouth of the Columbia River.
"What
it
do you think of the
idea?"
Ocean
off the
I asked, after having outlined
to her.
"I
admire your
spirit,
your
fortitude,
and your courage
.
.
.
but
she replied.
you feel that you must
do it, I d suggest keeping all the insurance you now have. Then
I ll call our insurance agent and have him write a new policy on
I deplore
your
your head
"Not
an
.
.
.
against woodpeckers!"
so fast,
idea. I
"If
judgement!"
my
dear,"
have not the
I exclaimed.
"I
slightest assurance
m
it
only talking about
will ever be given
by anyone else. But let s do this. The Na
Motor Boat Show will be held in New York in January. I d
like to fly there, have a look at all the boats in the show, and a
visit with some old friends in the boating industry. At the same
time I d like to see some New York editors. I can probably line
up enough work from them to keep us supplied with the necessi
ties of life for perhaps another year. Now, why don t you come to
New York with me. I ll make reservations now and you ll have
serious consideration
tional
about sixty days to
make your own
plans for the
Obviously, this was the correct approach.
trip."
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
4
thoughtful for a moment. Then she spoke: "Maybe
those woodpeckers are not the threat to your head I thought they
Ruth was
were. I
for
me
delighted to go to New
to go there is in the winter.
d be
York with you, and the time
You know how
I dislike the
heat and humidity of eastern summers. I could have a lot of fun
could also see some
doing some shopping on Fifth Avenue.
We
and
how I
long for
good stage plays,
on the half shell! Yes. Let s go
while we have
to
some fresh blue point
New
York. Let
s
oysters
enjoy
life
it!"
January rolled around. All the plans for the New York trip
were completed, and after a seven-and-one-half-hour flight from
Los Angeles to New York, Ruth and I found ourselves in a suite
on Central Park South. Fortunately, almost
everyone I had ever known in the motorboat industry was also
staying at the St. Moritz. Perhaps the fact that the Coliseum, where
the show was being held, was only a five-minute walk away had
something to do with this happenstance.
On exhibition in the Motor Boat Show I found quite a number
of craft that would have been well suited for the Transco II voyage.
The one that appealed to me most, in the light of my experience
with many types of small boats, was the 19-foot Glasspar ClubMariner Cruiser. This craft had a comfortable cabin with sleeping
berths for two, a head, a combination sink and wash basin, a
in the St. Moritz Hotel
14-gallon tank and
pump for potable water, ample storage lockers,
a space that could be converted into a galley, a spacious open
deck aft, and space under the gunwales for installing the big gaso
line tanks the Transco II project would require
the weight would
trim ship amidships. This Glasspar, with two 35-h.p. Evinrude
Lark Motors for power, would certainly be my choice. Operation
would be from a central control station forward in the open deck,
to port of the cabin door and abaft the cabin. Here was a 1959
boat that
made my
old Transco look about as crude as a dugout
canoe.
boat problem in my own mind, another allimportant question remained. Could I finance the expedition I
Having
settled the
THE IDEA TAKES SHAPE
was attempting
5
to organize?
My editors
would have to supply the
And they did!
answer to that one.
The next question was, where could
I find
a man, preferably
a fairly young man with extensive small-boat experience and, well,
a seemingly impossible list of qualifications to go along as assistant
skipper of Transco 111 I was personally acquainted with no such
man, but thought I knew how such a rare individual might be
tracked
down and
interviewed.
About two days after I d dropped a few thoughts on this subject
among some friends in the motorboating fraternity, I received a
telephone call in my suite.
The voice on the phone sounded to
young man.
It
was deep,
clear,
me
like that of
a
fairly
and resonant, with the diction of
a well-educated person.
The
I
m
voice said,
"Mr.
Hogg,
my name
is
John Richard Dahl.
a stranger to you, but I ve heard a suggestion that you are
looking for an experienced boatman to accompany you on an
unusual motorboat voyage. I believe I may have the qualifications
required. I
would
like to
meet you in person and discuss
this
subject."
"Where
"In
are
you now, Mr.
the lobby of the St.
Dahl?"
I asked.
Moritz."
come down.
Please introduce yourself to the information
clerk; I ll meet you in front of his desk. You ll recognize me as
a man wearing a blue serge suit and a Van Dyke beard."
"I
ll
This was
my
first
meeting with John Dahl, a thirty-year-old
bachelor, graduate student at Columbia University, and a native
and resident of New Rochelle, New York. Our conversation lasted
was favorably impressed with his personality and
his boating experience. But, of course, no agreement was possible
that evening in the face of numerous other unanswered questions
several hours. I
remaining in the Transco II project.
My wife and I remained in New York for several days after the
Boat Show. With each passing day the Transco II project was
still
passing from the realm of fantastic dreams to the world of reality.
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
6
The nebulous idea was becoming a definite and realizable project,
far more feasible and better organized than the original Transco
project had ever been. I could now return to California and start
making definite plans. I hoped to take Transco II up the Hudson
from New York City late in April or May, or as soon as possible
after the ice was out of the waters of Lake Champlain, the Trent
Waterway of Ontario, and the Great Lakes.
In 1925, when Frank Wilton and I made the first ocean-toocean voyage across North America in an 18-foot boat powered
with outboard motors, Ole Evinrude, who had invented the out
board motor only sixteen years earlier, was very interested in our
project. I visited with him, his wife, Bess,
and
their youthful son,
Ralph, in Milwaukee.
In
New York in
January, 1959, my wife and I again met Ralph
Evinrude, this time with his wife, Frances Langford. Ralph, once
a tow-headed, eager boy, is now the fifty-year-old,
barrel-chested,
egg-bald kingfish of a vast and worldwide outboard motor in
he has inherited a great enthusiasm for boating from his
Norwegian forebears.
By the time of the original Transco trip, Henry Ford had
dustry;
already put most of the nation on wheels with a functional auto
mobile that cost only about $500. As Americans flocked to the
Model Ts with all the gregariousness of blackbirds or
European
boating sports languished. Our vast inland and coastal
waterways were almost empty of pleasure craft. There were few,
if any, marinas in the sense that we know them
today. Only a
starlings,
few struggling enterprises managed
in the vicinity of our major cities.
to find
and
retain a toehold
When Frank Wilton and I "putt-putted" up the Columbia
River,
on our way from Astoria, Oregon, to New York
City, we did
not often see other noncommercial craft on the waters.
What s
more, service
nonexistent.
we
facilities
for small craft such as ours
We had to
take on supplies and fuel
found them, and make the best of it.
The
original
Transco was a very simple
were almost
when and where
craft,
primitively
THE IDEA TAKES SHAPE
7
when compared with Transco
II. Those old Giant Twin,
Evinrude
Motors of 1925 weighed about 100 pounds
2-cylinder
each. Their operation was about as simple as that of a T-Model
equipped,
Ford. I could easily lift one of them off the stern of the boat and
hoist it inboard for any necessary overhauling.
few simple tools
and little more than an advanced-amateur knowledge of gasoline
A
engines and other things mechanical did the job. While one motor
was being overhauled, the other kept the boat moving, on course,
at only slightly
How
reduced speed.
did Transco ever
constant contact with
all
make
it
across the continent, then, in
the hazards of land, with almost
no
for the servicing of boats, and with practically no
aids to navigation other than the limited equipment we carried
shore
facilities
aboard? For navigation on the rivers we had bales of state maps
that told us nothing about the rivers other than their general loca
For the Great Lakes we had adequate and
marked long-recognized dan
rock
such
as
reefs, and deep-water channels lead
gerous points,
ing into harbors. In the boat we had a binnacle in a portable box,
a sextant, and a chronometer, plus the knowledge of Bowditch
Navigation I d gained in the Navy and the determination of men
who had just lost two pennies in a peanut-vending machine. New
York City was 5,286 watery miles away, and the betting odds
were 15 to 1 we d never make it!
How different everything was in February, 1959, when I re
turned to California from New York.
The first Transco had been built to my plans and order by the
late Emil Aarup, a master boatbuilder who had learned his trade
in his native Denmark. For many years prior to his death in the
middle 1930s he was the number-one boatbuilder in the Los
tion within the state.
accurate charts. Aids to navigation
Angeles area. He started construction of Transco in September,
1924, and delivered the finished craft to me, afloat for trial runs
in the Pacific Ocean, early in April, 1925. For trial runs we took
the craft out to sea in almost the worst weather the Pacific
capable of giving us.
We cruised to Santa Catalina Island, 28
was
miles
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
8
mainland, and back to Los Angeles Harbor.
We took her to San Clements Island, some 30 miles west of San
Barbara Island, 100 miles straight
Diego, and to bleak Santa
these ocean
out in the Pacific from Los Angeles Harbor. With
the
Pacific
aboard
hoisted
was
Steamship
Transco
tests completed,
Five
days later
and passenger liner, Queen.
s
off the California
Company
freight
walked down the Queerfs gangplank to step
ashore in Astoria, Oregon, where we took delivery of Transco
afloat, on the Columbia River.
In February, 1959, I took a blueprint the hull plan of the
and drew in various
19-foot, Glasspar Club Mariner Cruiser
Frank Wilton and
I
needed for the voyage of Transco II. This com
where on February 26
pleted, I drove to Costa Mesa, California,
Jack Brown, a Glasspar Boat Company executive, and I went
into a series of huddles to design the best possible Transco II we
special features
could ever hope to assemble within the standard Club Mariner,
fiber-glass
After
hull.
we d
sketched out and mulled over every last detail of
the projected craft, the Glasspar boat engineers took over
and
re
the sketches to mechanical drawings and exact engineer
ing blueprints. These prints were air-mailed to the Glasspar plant
manager, Frank Finney, in Petersburg, Virginia, who was to
duced
all
proceed with construction of the bare hull and have
my arrival in Virginia on April
it
ready for
12.
Meanwhile, I had accepted John Dahl s bid to become partner
and co-skipper of the Transco II cruise. No better qualified man
was found among the many applicants who were investigated and
interviewed. Each of us signed a simple working agreement and
then went to work. Dahl was to devote his attention to details
of outfitting and other chores that could best be handled in New
York. I was to attend to innumerable other plans that could still
be handled from California by long-distance telephone, telegrams,
and air-mail correspondence until I could join him at the New
York Athletic Club on April 12. We would then fly to Richmond,
near Petersburg, to be in the Virginia plant of the Glasspar Boat
THE IDEA TAKES SHAPE
Company
Transco
9
to supervise personally construction of every detail of
II.
After the boat s construction was completed, arrangements were
made
to do the final outfitting, trial runs, and shakedown cruises
on Long Island Sound. Meanwhile, John Dahl and I also had to
take time out for miscellaneous errands in
New York,
Washington,
and Boston.
During nearly six weeks in and about New York, watching and
working on the fitting out of Transco II, I realized that boating
is no longer a simple, inexpensive pastime. Indeed, it has become
quite the opposite. If boating is to be as safe, comfortable, and
recreationally rewarding as human ingenuity has allowed for, it
must be dreadfully complicated and expensive.
John Dahl and I stood over the preparations, seeking to leave
out every possible pound of equipment that might be better left
ashore. But there wasn t too much that could be left out without
also
encroaching upon operational efficiency or safety. In 1925, for
we had had no
no radio direction
example,
ship-to-shore telephone,
finder,
finder,
no
no sonic depth-
electric starters
or generators,
pair of 12-volt storage batteries. We got along without such
things and many another item because they just did not exist.
no
Now
all
those things and
many more have become
necessities,
almost indispensable to safe, comfortable boating. So we watched
the control station aboard Transco II grow from a bare piece of
work
cabinet
into a complicated assembly of instruments,
buttons, dials, switches, levers,
cockpit of a
Dahl and
item of
I
this
Some
push
and whatnots, suggestive of the
modern jet plane. To further complicate complexity,
had to understand and know the use of every single
equipment.
modern small-boat equipment
is so simple that any
it in minutes. Some is quite
use
learn
to
could
bright schoolboy
complicated. It is one thing to have a sonic depthfinder in one s
of this
boat and quite another to learn how to use it to keep from going
aground on an invisible sand bar or reef of rocks. Using the radio
direction finder taxed
my
knowledge of mathematics, physics,
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
10
flunked the instruction with
navigation, and electronics; I d have
out the training gained through naval and aeronautical study and
experience.
It was also necessary to study the radio ship-to-shore telephone
in preparation for examinations to obtain legally mandatory op
erator
s
licenses in
both the United States and Canada. During
seemingly endless hours of study, often far into the night, there
were times when the task seemed hopeless and I thought I d never
make
At such
d
always the handy
can t teach an old dog new
tricks!" Refusing to be that kind of a dog, I d knuckle down to
the textbooks again; hi due time I had memorized all the examina
tion questions and answers. John Dahl and I eventually received
it.
times I
recall that old saying,
excuse for mental laziness,
our interim licenses.
We
"You
also survived the ninety-day probationary
period, after which permanent, annually renewable licenses
supposed to be mailed to us from Washington and Ottawa.
were
BEST- LAIV PLANS
.
.
In the spring of 1959 John Dahl was the owner
of a small foreign car which we arranged to use for a multitude
of errands in and about New York.
first ride with him was
My
from the
New York
Coast Guard
Athletic Club, facing Central Park, to a
office near the Battery. It took us right through the
heart of the worst traffic conditions on Manhattan Island. The
drive gave me the opportunity to observe that I had apparently
made no mistake in having chosen John as co-skipper of the
Transco
He
II.
is as
competent a motorist as I ever hope to ride with.
Logically, if a man is a competent driver of motor vehicles, he is
apt to be equally competent as a boatman. Conversely, a reckless,
careless, irresponsible motorist is
about the
last fellow I
d
ever
v
cruise steeped from its very inception
in the voluntary acceptance of countless calculated risks.
By the last week in April the fitting out of Transco II was prac
want aboard on a motorboat
complete. We had given her a series of trial runs on Long
Sound during which she had left little to be desired in the
of performance. We began to visualize May 1 as a date for
tically
Island
way
11
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
12
idea of getting to
heading up the Hudson, with the tentative
weeks.
toria, Oregon, in about twelve
As
But there were still many details to be arranged in fields where
we had no control. Summer was late in arriving in the Canadian
The winter ice had not gone
provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
out of some of the waters we d be into a few days after leaving
came and went. Our radiotelephone licenses
were yet to be received and where was that permit we d applied
for for taking Transco II through the St. Lawrence Seaway? The
New
York.
May
1
at Cornwall, Ontario, did
opened, and the administrative office
not seem to be in any hurry about issu
ing a permit for the
noncommercial American small boat to
Seaway was not yet
officially
first
seek such transit. Our departure date from the 79th Street Boat
Basin on the Hudson River was moved up to May 7.
May 7 came and went and we were still mastheaded in Man
hattan. The ice was breaking up and melting fast in Canadian
waters. But we still had no radio licenses and no permit for the
St. Lawrence Seaway. What was worse, Transco II, which had
behaved so perfectly in the salt water of Long Island Sound, be
came somewhat of a lazy tub when we brought her fully loaded
through the Harlem River into an outflowing tide on the Hudson.
I had met this same kind of trouble some years earlier. It was
especially noticeable in taking certain naval craft through the
Panama
it
knew
more crazily
upon leaving the heavier salt water of the oceans for the
water of Gatun Lake, the reservoir that supplies the water
Canal. I
that the smaller the craft, the
acted
fresh
for the operation of the
ever,
we had been
little
Panama Canal
locks. In the Navy, how
concerned with the cranky fresh-water
behavior of submarines and other naval craft. If
we merely
we
got into fresh
was easy to
temporary fresh-water crankiness, knowing that normal
behavior would be restored upon our return to salt water.
water,
got rid of a lot of barnacles. It
tolerate the
Knowing about
this
kind of trouble was one thing
knowing
how to correct it was quite another. John Dahl admitted he didn t
know what to do. So I decided to ask a man who d had experience
"THE
BEST-LAID PLANS
13
..."
in solving this particular kind of problem. Forthwith, then, I got
in touch with my long-time friend, Mr. Charles F. Chapman,
Editor and Publisher of Motorboating magazine. "Chap" is one
of the greatest living authorities on all phases of boating, a veritable
walking library of information gained from his nearly three-quarters
and
of a century of boating
It
didn
t
take
editing experience.
him very long
to
tell
me what
to do.
"You
may
have to lighten ship. But first, try shifting the load forward a bit.
If that doesn t do it, try changing propellers; a heavy-duty, fourbladed propeller may be your best bet. But it s something you ll
have to determine by
fast rules for
and
trial
error. Here, there are
no hard and
anything."
I spent most of the week of May 714 tinkering
with the boat, knowing that we would not be in salt water again
from the Statue of Liberty to the mouth of the Columbia River.
John Dahl and
We
put ashore some 200 pounds of equipment that could safely
be called excess baggage. We tried the boat out again; it behaved
better. We tried every imaginable arrangement of cargo
stowage and accomplished a few more gains. Finally, we tried
much
various types of propellers, reserving the heavy-duty, brass fourbladers for the last.
They did it! With the change to the four-blade props Transco II
came alive like the snappy craft she had been on Long Island
Sound. When opening the throttles we soon learned to warn each
other or anyone aboard:
throttles opened she
With
"Hang
on, I
m
going to open her
up!"
d jump out
of her role as a displacement
boat and begin planing, with half her hull out of the water, in
seconds. Anyone on the loose would either hit the cabin bulkhead
or
fall flat
on the deck.
On
glass-smooth water she could easily hit
a speed of 25 knots or cruise rather leisurely at 18 to 20 knots.
On Monday, May
18,
Come what may, we d
up the Hudson
we
set the next
depart from
noon on
Thursday as "D-day."
City and be off
New York
We
disregarded the weather
and even the outflowing tide to set the time primarily for the
also
convenience of the newspapers, television, and radio.
at
that day.
We
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
14
agreed to take a chance with the final uncompleted details of
the all-important St. Lawrence
preparations. We still did not have
Seaway permit, but I accepted a telephoned assurance that the
permit would be issued after our arrival in Canada.
As I stepped from a taxicab at the 79th Street Boat Basin I
couldn
crowd
t
even see Transco II at her mooring place because of the
jammed the boat basin.
that
A twitter ran through the crowd and I heard someone say,
man
with the beard! That
Eventually I
managed
s
to
Captain Hogg! Here he
make my way through
is
"The
now!"
the throng and
hopped aboard Transco 11 to find John Dahl quietly stowing away
a few odds and ends. Once aboard, I looked back at the crowd
on the docks and saw, among countless strangers, almost everyone
I ve ever known in boating and allied publishing enterprises. For
on the dock
a score
and photographers milled about, elbowing each other
the next several minutes confusion reigned
of reporters
as
for the most favorable positions.
Down through the years I ve been in many similar situations,
but usually as one of the reporters or photographers. Thus, I knew
what to do. Holding up both hands in a plea for order and silence,
I
had
the attention of the group almost instantly. "Gentlemen,
Dahl and
I will cooperate with
to the best of
Mr.
our
you
ability.
an orderly press conference. I ll hand each of you
a prepared statement of facts. We will take whatever time is neces
sary to let you take the photographs you want. Then we can all
Let s make
sit
down
this
for a question-and-answer discussion of
how
is all
North America by motorboat from east
to be the first to make it a round trip."
It
what the Transco
about. In the fact sheets you ll find the story of
Mr. Dahl and I hope to become the first persons to cross
II enterprise
to
west and
how
I
hope
soon became apparent that Transco II wasn t going to get
up the Hudson on our first day. On the original Transco
very far
had learned the value of having
for lunch that day John and I ate
cruise thirty-four years earlier I
favorable public relations. So,
"THE
BEST-LAID PLANS
15
..."
hamburgers and sipped coffee from paper cups wMle the flashbulbs
popped and the television cameras buzzed. It was 4 o clock in the
we
afternoon before
getaway. Even
could
make any semblance
of a graceful
then, as I took Transco II out of the boat basin
and opened the throttles, we were far from being alone on the
fleet of about a dozen small boats roared out of the
Hudson.
A
basin in our wake, each bulging with both
still and motioncameramen.
We were off in a veritable aquatic rat race,
picture
with the camera craft cutting circles around us, coming alongside
to be drowned in Transco IFs spray, or speeding ahead to get into
some favorable photographic position. It was like driving an
amphibious auto on a watery Hollywood freeway. There was even
a New York smog, almost as thick and smelly as the sorrow of
Los Angeles. The race finally ended a couple of miles above the
George Washington Bridge, where the camera boats began drop
ping back. They soon disappeared in the haze behind us.
"How far can we go today?" asked John Dahl, as Transco II
clipped off the knots practically alone
make
on the broad Hudson River.
have a good
yacht club there, and I for one would be perfectly happy to cook
our own food and have a good night s rest in a comfortable berth.
1 can think of nothing more welcome after forty days of hotel life
"Let
in
s
New York
it
to
Peekskill,"
I replied.
"They
City."
John agreed.
A
few minutes
later Peekskill
came
into distant,
haze-shrouded view on the east bank of the river under the golden
glow of sunset. My field glasses searched the waterfront and soon
sighted a group of structures that seemed to match the location of
the Peekskill Yacht Club on our chart of the lower Hudson.
We headed toward
something that appeared to be a breakwater,
with several openings for the passage of boats. Any doubt about
our location then quickly vanished. At a distance of roughly
2 miles, I could see through the glasses a group of people on the
dock; they seemed to be waving to us to come on in.
Approaching the breakwater at reduced speed, we were soon
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
16
near enough to hear the words of a man who called out to us
in! Captain Hogg
through a megaphone: "Transco II, come on
and Mr. Dahl, welcome to the Peekskill Yacht Club!"
few minutes later Transco II was moored into a slip and we
were shaking hands with various officials and members of the
A
Peekskill
Yacht Club.
We
were cordially invited to be guests of
every facility at our disposal.
soon heard the story that seems to verify the value I have
the club, with
We
its
always placed upon having good public relations in any enterprise
few minutes before
even remotely similar to that of Transco II.
A
yacht club had
group
our
film
of
a
television
and
heard
on
seen
departure from New
the
clubhouse sighted
York City. Some one who had walked out of
a small boat that was instantly identified. Then and there John
Transco II arrived
Dahl and I became
hoped
at the
off Peekskill, the
beneficiaries of the kind of public relations I
to maintain all the
way
across the continent.
me was
that
it
prise about
it
for
was bearing
The only
fruit so quickly
sur
due
to the speed of television!
I
There had been no television in 1925 when Frank Wilton and
across the continent. On that cruise, too, a deliberate
came
maintain the best possible public relations had rewarded
many ways. But it was slower in those days; we had only
the press and a few primitive radio broadcasts to help us in telling
effort to
us in
people along our route what we were attempting to do.
The Hudson is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world.
It is
a tidal stream from
its
mouth
to the
government
lock, the
lock of the Champlain Canal, about 6 miles above Troy.
Moreover, Albany is a seaport accessible to all but the largest of
first
Famed for the beauty of its shores, rich as the birth
much American history, fabled in song and story, it is
one of the most horribly polluted large rivers on the face of
ocean
ships.
place of
also
the earth.
The pollution was all too apparent when Frank Wilton and I
came down the Hudson from the Champlain Canal with Transco
during the first week of October, 1925. It was mostly sewage and
"THE
BEST-LAID PLANS
industrial wastes.
it is
17
..."
Today, the
river is not only
a trunk-line sewer,
obviously a dumping ground for every kind of rubbish that any
lumber, discarded railroad ties, and old
one wants to get rid of
utility
poles
menace
all
go into the
to navigation.
This floating trash is an obvious
still, because the river is a tidal
river.
Worse
filth goes upstream with the inflowing tides and down
the outflowing current I ll leave it to the sanitary
with
stream
engineers to figure out how many miles the pollution must travel,
stream, the
or
how many
days
that under
it may take
we even got
from, say, Albany to the Statue
to Peekskill, Dahl and I agreed
no circumstances would we make any attempt to cruise
of Liberty! Before
on the Hudson
at night.
When we came down
the
Hudson with Transco
in 1925,
we
passed a small town on the east shore above Poughkeepsie known
as Hyde Park. At that time it was of scant importance; a minor
political figure named Franklin Delano Roosevelt was just begin
ning to recover partial use of his legs after a bout with infantile
paralysis in 1924. In 1932, Hyde Park began to gain fame as the
home of this same F.D.R., now President of the United States.
Today, the Roosevelt home
is
a national monument visited an
nually by thousands of persons from every part of the nation and
the world. It has taken its place with the many shpnes of American
history that are scattered along the banks of the Hudson.
From descriptions of the F.D.R. monument at Hyde
Park I
visualized it as something that would be invisible from a small
boat on the Hudson. I had been thinking in terms of the famous
had
knew how little one may
see from the
was
river
pleasantly sur
the
bank
on
low
Hyde Park side
prised, then, to find a relatively
of the river making the Roosevelt memorial easily visible from
even a rowboat. It was an easy, ten-minute walk from the boat
Hudson River
of what
Palisades and
s
on top
of those great
cliffs.
I
landing.
Above Newburgh,
the pollution of the
Hudson from sewage
and industrial wastes becomes slightly less obnoxious than in the
is largely
vicinity of New York City. That small gain, however,
18
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
canceled out from the boatman
s point of view by the vast increase
encountered in floating rubbish. The few thousand beer cans,
bottles, and small driftwood around us posed little threat to
Transco II. But veritable floating islands of scrap railroad ties,
were definite hazards to be
old utility poles, and metal oil drums
avoided if possible. Anyone in an aircraft flying above the river
who noticed our erratic, trash-dodging course would have been
justified in saying, "Watch that boat down there; the fellow driving
it is drunk!"
FROM PEEKSKIU
INTO LAKE
CHAMPLAM
Wherever we stopped along the Hudson at
Peekskill, Newburgh, Kingston (Port Ewen, on Rondout Creek),
Hudson, Albany, and other points we saw the evidence of how
news of the Transco II enterprise traveled ahead of us. At Newburgh, for example, we needed no introduction and actually stayed
an extra day as guests of the local yacht club.
At Kingston we found no satisfactory marina facility, but were
directed into Rondout Creek, a stream that would be called a river
in any European country. About two miles up Rondout Creek we
fond Tony
s Marina, a well-equipped shore facility at Eddyville,
almost to the head of navigation below a power dam in Port Ewen.
News of our arrival seemed to have spread with great rapidity.
Ashore, and with Transco II tied up, we barely had time to shake
hands with Tony Roberti, the marina operator, and members of
his family before cars began arriving. Most of these motorists
were also part-time boatmen who had seen us on television or read
about us in the newspapers. Among them, however, were the usual
reporters, press photographers,
and radio and
television
men. The
19
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
20
latter
soon had our voices on tape, the boat and
All this was on Saturday afternoon,
May
my beard on film.
23, and
it
seemed
to
men
barely had time to get back
before
in
studios
to their
Tony called us into his office.
Kingston
next
fifteen minutes we listened
the
He turned on the radio, and for
me
that the radio
and
to ourselves speaking
I learned that
my
room of our home
valley nestled
television
from the mysterious
electronic box. Later,
wife heard the same radio talk in the living
in the Vale of San Jacinto, an isolated, alpine
among
the highest
and snowiest mountains of south
ern California.
have appeared on radio or television, I have won
anyone was actually listening. There was certainly no
Whenever
dered
if
doubt about
I
it
after
our broadcasts
at Eddyville,
New
York. In
minutes after the tapes had been aired, cars and more cars began
pulling up to a stop on the highway near Tony s. Throngs of people
came to look at our boat and have a few friendly words with us.
The usual question was,
there anything we can do for you?
We ll be glad to take you into Kingston if you need to do any
shopping." Obviously, there was nothing artificial about that kind
"Is
of hospitality!
was talking with a group of such visitors when a gentleman
introduced himself as James O Brien noticed a St.
Christopher medal I was wearing.
I
who had
you a Catholic?" he asked.
I am,
I replied.
"Would you like to
go to Mass with
"Are
"Indeed
sir!"
me and my family tomorrow
morning?"
"I
certainly
would!"
we pick you up here about eight-forty tomorrow
Our
Church
of St. Francis is on a hill
morning?
overlooking the
Hudson at St. Remy, about 4 miles from here."
"Then
suppose
In the church that Sunday morning, the
pastor, Father Kelly, to
whom
I d previously been
introduced, stepped to the altar rail
before starting Mass. He paused for a moment and looked
out
PEEKSKILL
LAKE CHAMPLAIN
21
through the crowded church. I sensed that he was looking for a
a beard.
man with
upon me and he spoke: "Friends, we have
with us this morning a gentleman who has embarked upon a most
unusual journey. He is making his second trip across the [North
American continent over the inland waterways of the United States
and Canada as skipper of a motor yacht scarcely 20 feet in length.
It is a voyage of more than 5,000 miles through seventeen Ameri
can states and two provinces of Canada. Perhaps you have read
about him, heard his voice on radio, or seen him on television. He
sets an example I hope others may follow: he has time for God!
It is my pleasure to introduce Captain John Edwin Hogg, skipper
Presently his eyes
fell
of the motor vessel Transco
I arose, saluted,
mained
and
II.
sat
Captain Hogg, will you please rise?"
again. The packed church re
down
but the reaction of the congregation was easily
that I had gained an intangible something that could
silent,
visible. I felt
never be anything but beneficial. Little did I realize then that John
Dahl and I would soon have thousands of people praying for our
safety and success.
On Monday morning, May 24, I took Transco II back into the
Hudson from Rondout Creek. A tidal current of perhaps 5 miles
an hour was moving downstream, and a 30-mile-an-hour wind was
blowing upstream. This is a bad combination, as every experienced
river
boatman knows.
On
any stream the
size of the
Hudson
it
sets
the wind to fighting the current, rolling up a conflicting fury of
short, choppy waves that can be dangerous to small boats.
I
wouldn t say
that a boat as seaworthy as Transco II
was
in
any particular danger that day. Nevertheless, the river was rough
enough to make her uncomfortable and difficult to handle.
We
were soon taking spray aboard. When
sea, as we had to do, any boat has a tendency to yaw off course,
making it a bad day for the man at the wheel. Moreover, in such
a sea speed has to be greatly reduced. Transco II could take it, but
running before a following
her occupants took the punishment that would have included sea-
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
22
sickness without the high degree of
immunity that both John Dahl
and I had developed over the years.
By the time we reached Catskill, we d had about enough of the
punishment that was burning a lot of gasoline without producing
Catskill, however, offered no small-boat shore
not even a place where we could tie up without
was
There
facility.
serious risk of damage to the boat. After an inspection of the entire
much
mileage.
CatskiU waterfront, my decision was to get back into deep water
and take the seas for another 10 miles by running for Hudson,
New York.
At Hudson the river was still rough. We found several quietwater mooring slips alongside the clubhouse of the Hudson Power
boat Association and cheerfully accepted the hospitality of the
club that was immediately and graciously offered. For a couple of
already weather-beaten motorboatmen, the well-equipped club
house was a perfect place to be on a day when the wind continued
to howl and toss the crows around.
The
following day dawned with ideal weather, and Dahl and I
agreed to get an early start to meet a tentative appointment in
swift tide was flowing
Albany with the Governor of New York.
A
We shoved off, with Dahl at the controls of Transco IL
well for about three minutes. We had barely reached
downstream.
All went
the deep water of the shipping lane in the middle of the river when
John gave the steering wheel a hard turn to starboard and nothing
knew instantly that
down the motors. Transco
happened. After turning the wheel to port, he
we had
II
was
He
lost all steering control.
adrift
on the outflowing
I scrambled astern,
would permit
me
tide.
grabbed a paddle, and found a fulcrum that
to use the paddle as a jury rudder.
taking the boat ahead with one
tle.
The
from
shut
motor
We then
tried
at about one-quarter throt
had gained with the paddle was far
was enough to let us get back to the boat-club
steering control I
perfect,
but
it
dock and make an orderly landing.
Dismantling the steering mechanism, we found a sheared-off
pin that had released one of the steering cables. By foresight
PEEKSKILL
LAKE CHAMPLAIN
23
was in no sense luck, we had the pin to replace it in our
of spare parts. Within an hour after our jury-rigged landing,
were off for Albany again.
that
box
we
In 1925, Frank Wilton and I were overnight guests of the
Albany Yacht Club, which was then on the Albany side of the
river. Now, a greatly enlarged and elaborate Albany Yacht Club
is on the other side of the river, in Rensselaer. The two-man crew
of Transco II promptly accepted a cordial invitation to enjoy every
hospitality the club had to offer.
I
d been ashore only a few minutes when I sighted an elderly
puttering in a flower bed on the broad lawn in front of the
man
clubhouse. I felt that somewhere, long ago, I had met him. But
where and when? I began peering into the dark corners of mem
ory. Then, suddenly, the
whole mystery cleared and the
man s
name was on
the tip of my tongue.
In 1925, the state of Tennessee
had a law that prohibited the
Darwin s theory of evolution in the public
schools. Coincidentally, while the original Transco was on her
way down the Missouri River, a legal battle was going on in
Dayton, Tennessee. A teacher by the name of John Scopes was
being prosecuted on the charge of having taught evolution, in
teaching of Charles
violation of the state law.
became a farcical contest between orthodox
religion and science. Scopes had retained one of the world s fore
most criminal lawyers, Clarence Darrow, to defend him. The
The Scopes
trial
prosecution was undertaken by William Jennings Bryan, former
Secretary of State and three-time loser as a candidate for Presi
Darrow proclaimed himself an agnostic. Bryan was the
modern St. George out to slay the dragon that dared to question
a single word of the Bible. The court battle made newspaper
dent.
Bryan won the
exhaustion.
from
sheer
Scopes had
life, probably
indeed violated a state law. The jury found him guilty, and
headlines all over the world. William Jennings
case but lost his
Tennessee gained a nickname, "The Monkey State."
On the last lap of our cruise, when Frank Wilton and I stopped
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
24
of the club was named
Albany Yacht Club, the Commodore
John Scopes. With the "Monkey Trial" still in the news, Commo
dore Scopes, Frank Wilton, and I laughed over the coincidence of
names. Commodore Scopes had assured us he was in no way
at the
Mr. John Scopes of Dayton, Tennessee.
after thirty-four years. I
Thus, the story came back to me
man
the
walked toward
puttering among the flowers.
elderly
"Aren t you Mr. John Scopes?" I asked
he replied, rising, removing a work glove and
am,
related to
sir!"
"I
extending his hand.
Mr. Scopes.
speak your name, please!" exclaimed
sure I know you and can recall
"Don
t
"I
m
it."
He
member now.
"Aren t you Captain Hogg? I re
a small motorboat across the continent
a moment.
hesitated for
You brought
stopped overnight with us when this club was
over on the other side of the river. And how about your partner?
many years ago and
Wasn t
"I
m
his
name Wilson
sorry to tell you,
or was
Mr.
died from natural causes in
it Wilton?"
Scopes,"
I said,
"that
Mr. Wilton
1947."
John Scopes is now eighty-seven years of age. He organized the
Albany Yacht Club in 1896. He became Commodore of the club
in 1908 and retained that post until he retired in 1958. Now he
around the club, where he is constantly meeting
boatmen from far and near, many of whom have been his friends
for more than half a century.
In Albany our tentative appointment with New York s Gover
practically lives
had to be canceled. A high official of
had died, and his funeral in Albany was
nor, Nelson Rockefeller,
the state government
being held almost at the hour of our arrival. Obviously, the
Governor could not be in two places simultaneously.
This unfortunate coincidence was largely offset by the rousing
welcome we received from representatives of the press, radio, and
television and the entire organization of the largest local outboardmotor
retail store.
The
latter
gave us such a round of cooperation
PEEKSKILL
LAKE CHAMPLAIN
25
and "red-carpet" entertainment we almost forgot about
and weather that was uncomfortably hot and humid.
Those May flies were at the beginning of their
May
"season"
flies
when
Transco II arrived in Albany. At first there were only a few of
these pests, but their number seemed to increase steadily. By the
time
we
got to the locks of the Champlain Canal they were out by
Every lock in the canal was swarming with
the tens of billions!
them. Everyone in that part of the state was going about with
flailing hands and arms. To a man from Mars we might have
some strange race of deaf mutes using a wild sort of
sign language, but we were only pawing at the May flies.
By great good fortune May flies don t bite or sting. They are
looked
like
just soft-bodied,
Their
lacy-winged
little flies
about half an inch in length.
name, Ephemerida vulgaris, literally means
shortlife," which is a biological fact about May flies to
scientific
common
"the
be heartily approved by man or beast. Their larvae are aquatic.
Once each year, usually in May, the adults appear in tremendous
swarms. The adult
only a few days; ordinarily
the annual infestations seldom last more than a week. They re a
flying
life
cycle
is
dreadful nuisance while they last, however, in clouds before one s
eyes, buzzing around the ears, or crawling down inside shirt
collars.
quarrel with the May flies was that they clustered on
My
camera lenses and flew in clouds
every time I pointed a camera
like
a black snow storm nearly
at anything in the
Champlain
River.
the
Richelieu
of
Lake
and
on
some
Canal,
Champlain,
parts
John
and
Dahl
start
out
of
Albany,
By getting an early-morning
I made excellent progress up the Hudson to Troy, then through
Champlain Canal and the southern part of Lake Champlain in
a single daylight day. The weather, although uncomfortably hot
and humid, was almost perfect for cruising, and we suffered little
the
from the heat as long as we kept moving.
It was in the locks that the heat really became uncomfortable
and the May flies didn t help much! Even there we were lucky.
At
the
first
lock of the Champlain Canal above Troy, the only
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
26
one in the Champlain Canal system that is operated by the Federal
government, we found a red light against us. A voice came over
the public-address system, saying, "Attention aboard the small
pleasure craft! There
a freight barge coming up the river only
s
When we open the gates, let the barge
Follow it in and we ll put you both through
a few minutes behind you.
go into the lock
first.
together."
A
perhaps 2,000 tons, flying the Canadian flag
and bearing a Montreal registry, soon hove in sight; we trailed
her into the lock. About twelve minutes later we followed the
diesel barge of
barge out of the lock and decided to stay right with her on into
Lake Champlain. By this method we never lost a minute waiting
at the locks. We were in Whitehall for lunch shortly after noon,
and went down the
last
lock of the Champlain Canal into Lake
Champlain.
Lake Champlain, roughly one-fourth the
boundary between New
York and Vermont, bears little resemblance to what most of us
think of as a lake. It is so long and narrow, less than a quarter of
The southern part
of
length of this gigantic lake that forms the
a mile wide at several points, that
current, set
green
hills.
it
looks like a river without any
down between rugged cliffs of brown rock and rolling
To me, this is the most beautiful part of Lake Cham-
plain because
all
the scenic beauty
is
visible at close range, in
contrast to the distant views that characterize the lake farther
north,
The
where aquatic distances widen out to 15 miles or more.
same there, but it s
shore-line scenery remains essentially the
a greater distance from the boatman.
weather is good, as it was for us during our first afternoon
on Lake Champlain, navigating the lake is quite a simple task.
at
If the
Our
charts gave us
in safe waters the
a
detailed picture of the entire lake.
boatman has only
To
keep
to follow a channel well
marked with buoys at every spot where a buoy is needed.
At least, that s what John Dahl and I thought as Transco
II
sped northward through Lake Champlain after leaving Whitehall,
LAKE CHAMPLAIN
PEEKSKILL
New
the
York.
We
could relax and enjoy
numbered buoys
We
27
flashed past
all
the scenic beauty, while
and disappeared
astern.
at about 20 knots, coming up on
Vermont, when there was a noise like a
the stern. The boat shuddered, and the port-side
were skimming along
buoy No. 39
off Orwell,
small explosion at
squeal. Dahl, who was at the helm,
switched
off
both
motors.
instantly
We ll probably never know exactly what happened. Apparently,
the port-side motor must have struck its underwater mechanism
motor raced with an ear-searing
some very
against
soaked
We
that
solid,
submerged obstruction, perhaps a water-
log.
tilted
the motor and found a slightly
seemed to have
immediate evidence indicated that
to
On the Vermont shore we
be replaced.
"Marina,
damaged propeller
power head. The
a broken shear pin would have
lost its connection with the
Buoy No.
39."
We went in
sighted a good marina
on one motor and tied up in
a sheltered cove.
More
serious trouble
loomed when we removed the propeller
and found the shear pin intact. The motor was hoisted off the boat
and taken into the repair shop. Half an hour later we knew what
the trouble
was
a broken drive shaft. This vital part
is
so rarely
a source of trouble in any modern outboard motor that
not included a spare.
The
nearest Evinrude dealer
was
in Ticonderoga,
we had
New
York,
away on the opposite side of Lake Champlain for us. Also,
there was no safe place to tie up there if bad weather came up.
To make a bad situation worse, Marina, Buoy No. 39 was a new
enterprise, still on the waiting list for the installation of a telephone.
A sixteen-year-old boy who was playing around the marina with
8 miles
a small boat and outboard motor offered to take us across the
lake to Port Marshall,
a telephone to
call
New
York. There we would have access to
a taxicab for the 5-mile
We gladly accepted his
offer
and
lost
trip into
no time in
Ticonderoga.
getting
under way.
fROM TICONDEROGA,
INTO FRENCH CANADA
Misfortune can often suddenly change into a nearmiracle of good luck. Some months ago, for example, I was to go
on a trip with four friends in a private airplane. I was bitterly
disappointed when I was forced to withdraw from the projected
flight in favor of an emergency appointment with the dentist. After
a painful hour in the dentist s chair, a radio news report told me
that a toothache had saved
life: the plane had crashed and
my
burned in the High Sierras of California. Three days
later, I
was
a pallbearer at the funeral of the four who had died in the crash.
I could cite many other instances of bad luck turning out to be
the greatest of
good fortune.
So it may have been for Transco II, John Dahl, and me when
we had motor trouble on Lake Champlain. A violent thunderstorm
was gathering by the time we arrived in Ticonderoga from Port
Marshall. What s more, that storm turned out to be not just one
rip-roaring twister of wind, torrential rain, thunder, and lightning:
it was only a prelude to five whole
days of the most violent weather
28
FRENCH CANADA
TICONDEROGA
29
imaginable. If we had been caught out on Lake Champlain in that
weather, there is no telling what trouble we might have gotten
into. So, we remained in Ticonderoga while the lake was a seeth
ing cauldron of fury in which no small boat could have lived.
As the wind continued to rage, broken only by an occasional
hour or two of blue sky and
sunlight,
we
obtained the motor parts
we
needed. Stewart Moore, owner of the local hardware store,
then took us to Marina, Buoy No. 39 in his pickup truck. He
drove south, past Port Marshall on the New York side of the
a point where the shortest car ferry on the entire lake
operates over a stretch of water where New York and Vermont
are only about half a mile apart. From the ferry landing on the
lake, to
Vermont
side,
a 15-mile drive took us over a tortuous and scenic
rural road into Orwell; then
we went
north and west back to the
Marina, Buoy No. 39. To know and find
been impossible for an unguided stranger.
this
route would have
Transco 7/ s ailing motor was repaired and operative again
within an hour after Johnny Connors, a skilled outboard motor
mechanic and Mr. Moore
s son-in-law,
went to work on
it.
But
what about the weather? Obviously, it was no day to be traveling
about 75 miles through the widest parts of Lake Champlain. I
made a call to the U. S. Coast Guard Station in Burlington. The
advice I received was,
"Small-craft
warning signals are
flying.
more of same today, tomorrow, and pos
after
You d be wise to stay in port."
tomorrow.
sibly day
In Ticonderoga, 6 o clock that evening, John Dahl and I were
having dinner. Outside, the wind was trying to blow the raincoats
off the backs of pedestrians. The rain was coming down in tor
rents. Thunder was booming and the lightning was causing the
lights in the restaurant to blink on and off. Bob Barton, owner of
the theater next door, came in and spoke to us.
6:45 you re
a
in
on
the
screen
newsreel.
If
d
to
be
like
to
see your
you
going
as
in
come
selves,
my guests."
On the screen we saw ourselves as others had seen us leaving
Weather forecast
is
for
"At
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
30
Boat Basin in
New York
up the
Hudson, and going under the George Washington Bridge. Then
we spent the remainder of a bad-weather evening seeing two very
the 79th Street
City, speeding
good Hollywood productions.
Before visiting Lake Champlain anyone might take a refresher
course in American history. The lake is, of course, a product of
geography, and geography has always played an important part in
shaping the events of history. Thus, Lake Champlain was a natu
ral and convenient travel route between conflicting colonial enter
French to the north and the British to the south. It was
predestined by its geographic location to become a battleground,
prises, the
Cockpit of Europe" be
Belgium became known as
cause it was set down between the long-conflicting interests of
France and Germany.
just as
"the
Long before
the
American Revolution, every shooting war be
tween England and France brought bloodshed to Lake Champlain.
The
used
wise,
British colonials
it
it
on
their
way
and the
to
thirteen original
make war on
American
colonies
the French in Canada. Like
became the most convenient route of invasion every time
Canada sent military forces seeking to drive the
the French in
British out of
New
England.
During the American Revolution, by which time the British
had
almost succeeded in wresting control of Canada from the French,
Lake Champlain became a battlefield this time it was the British,
with French, German, and French-Canadian mercenaries, fighting
British colonials who had the audacity to rebel against a tyrannical
James III. Little wonder that Whitehall, New York,
destined
to be the birthplace of the United States
was
Navy.
Likewise, the lake, as a highway of two-way military enterprises,
made it possible for U. S. General Richard Montgomery to seize
British King,
Montreal in 1775, leaving in his path such hallowed battlegrounds
Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and Saratoga.
Bad weather and the enforced sojourn in Ticonderoga gave us
the opportunity to visit Fort Ticonderoga and to make a
trip by
as
TICONDEROGA
FRENCH CANADA
31
Lake George. Lake George is one of the most beautiful
on the face of the earth; for many years I had hoped to
auto to
lakes
see
it.
Driving out with new-found friends from Ticonderoga in a
downpour of rain, I wondered if we would see anything of the lake
when we
got there.
Good
As we neared
fortune was with us.
the
lake, the rain stopped and we had about two hours under a blue
sky flecked with huge and beautiful cumulus clouds! No question
about the beauty of Lake George;
ever hope to see
on
this side
it is
about the nearest thing I
of the Atlantic to Switzerland
s
Lake
Geneva.
it possible to go by water from Lake
Boatmen often ask,
into
Lake
The surface
George?" The answer is,
Champlain
of Lake George is approximately 100 feet higher than that of
Lake Champlain. The overflow from the former drops through a
rocky gorge on the outskirts of Ticonderoga. A huge steel aqueduct
picks up most of the water within the city limits of Ticonderoga
and puts it through the hydroelectric turbines that keep the town
"Is
"No!"
supplied with electricity to run the paper mills and other industries.
To that pure, cold, sparkling Lake George water, industrial wastes
and sewage are then added and dumped
into
create the usual water-pollution problem.
Lake Champlain
As
yet,
to
however, the
Lake Champlain is not very serious. The lake is just
too big to be seriously polluted by the present population and in
pollution of
dustry around it.
After six days in Ticonderoga with almost continuous high
wind and downpours of rain, good weather returned for us on
Lake Champlain. There was blue sky overhead and the lake was
like a gigantic sheet of glass as John Dahl and I sped northward
from Marina, Buoy No. 39. With everything in our favor we de
cided to go fast while the going was good and be out of the lake,
if possible, before the bad weather might again catch up with us.
During the last week of September in 1925, it took Frank
Wilton and me three days to run the length of Lake Champlain,
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
32
York, to Whitehall, with the original
Transco. Two of those days gave us about as much weather as
we dared to be out in. The second afternoon chased us off the
from Rouse
s
Point,
New
lake into a sheltered anchorage in Basin Harbor, Vermont. The
from Basin Harbor to Whitehall,
third, during which we traveled
on a placid river.
Thus, experience had taught me
was
like boating
that
Lake Champlain has a
Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde personality. Vast as
weather
it
is
it
is,
in gentle
a placid, beautiful, fresh-water sea, a paradise for
any lover of small boats.
But
let
no boatman be
are as suddenly changeable as the
New
fooled;
its
moods
England weather. Let a
30-mile-an-hour wind spring up and this docile, king-sized millpond quickly becomes a wave-lashed cauldron of seething fury.
In minutes
and 6
it
can build up waves that seem to be 10 feet high
feet apart, easily capable of capsizing or
small boat or pike-poling
The
lake
s
bottom
it
swamping any
to the bottom.
is soft,
slate-gray
mud. After a few days
calm weather the water appears to be remarkably
of
clear, reflecting
New
England sky. But when the wind blows,
the mud is quickly churned up from the bottom and the whole
lake becomes a mousy gray, as it was when Transco II set out
the deep blue of the
on her northward journey. Natives who have
the shores of the lake say that
it
lived for years
on
usually takes several days for the
mud has been churned up by a storm.
New York, Dahl and I charted a course to
water to clear after the
From
Ticonderoga,
Burlington, Vermont. Transco II ate
of a seagull.
usual,
We
We
up the miles with the voracity
were in Burlington a little after noon, and, as
found the gentlemen of the press waiting.
paused only long enough to have lunch in a waterfront
restaurant
and then spent an hour being interviewed and photo
graphed.
The lake was
still calm when we got
away from Burlington
about 2 o clock in the afternoon, heading for Rouse s Point.
Transco II clipped off about half the distance within an hour after
FRENCH CANADA
TICONDEROGA
Then a
leaving Burlington.
33
gentle breeze
from the north rose to
about 20 miles an hour and the lake began to get rough. We had
to throttle down to half speed, and for a time we thought we d
have to go into Plattsburgh. But we found the wind and seas get
ting no worse, so we decided to keep going. We docked at the
Gaines Marina in Rouse
s
Point a
little
before 6 o clock. In less
we had run about three-fourths of the length
Lake Champlain and were now at the northern end of it.
than eight hours
A
few minutes before 6:30, Mr. Gaines took us in
a local tavern. There
we
of
his car to
sat at a table sipping beer while
we
watched ourselves on television as others had seen and heard us
in Burlington earlier in the day.
Next morning,
as
to the offices of
U.
offices opened for business, I went
Customs and Immigration Service and re
ceived clearances for Transco II and her crew to re-enter the
soon as the
S.
United States from Canada
at DeTour, Michigan. I was agreeably
the
and
by
simplicity of this procedure. It is now
surprised
speed
red
from
free
remarkably
tape. The entire transaction was com
pleted in about ten minutes.
when Frank Wilton and
I arrived at Rouse s Point
Canada with Transco at the Canadian Soo,
I paid duty on some furs I d bought for my wife in Canada. The
customs officer then asked, "Do you have anything aboard your
In 1925,
after
having entered
boat that could be considered
"Yes,
sir,"
I replied.
"I
contraband?"
have a bottle containing about half a
quart of good Canadian bourbon." (At that time prohibition was
supposed to be the law of the land throughout the United States.)
can t let you take the
said the customs officer.
"Very well,"
"I
whisky into the United States.
you drink
But
I
can look the other way while
it!"
Forthwith, Wilton and I divided the whisky and swigged it
down. Frank and I cruised on down the lake. While a gentle rain
Moon Came over the Cowshed,"
a familiar song in the trenches of World War I.
dropped around
us,
we sang
"The
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
34
Before leaving
the Richelieu
New York
and
St.
in Transco II I
Lawrence
Montreal. But the charts, which
Rouse
s
rivers
had ordered charts of
from Rouse
we had expected
Point, failed to arrive. This left
s
Point to
to receive at
John Dahl and
me
with
the prospect of having to make the run of roughly 150 miles down
the Richelieu and up the St. Lawrence to Montreal as best we
could. It
was not a happy thought. But we d have to go on and
accept the risks and inconvenience of being without charts over
this part of
our route.
We were
about ready to shove
off
when a
big, beautiful, 50-foot
yacht flying the Canadian flag and carrying a Montreal registry
came into the Gaines Marina. The Canadian party of six stepped
ashore, and the conversation was soon going thick and fast in
French. I heard the skipper of the yacht ask where he might obtain
Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal, and the Hudson
to New York City. I also overheard and understood him to say
that he had charts from Montreal to Rouse s Point, but none for
the remainder of his route to New York City.
Here was my chance to do a little "horse-trading," I thought.
charts of
Summoning
all
of a language I
per:
the rusty French I could muster from knowledge
had not used for years, I spoke to the yacht skip
me, sir, but my partner and I have the charts you
have the charts we don t have. Let s exchange charts.
"Pardon
need.
You
All of us will then have the charts
we want and
need!"
Needless to say, this obvious and logical exchange was quickly
made.
few minutes later, Transco II was speeding down the
A
Richelieu with a gentle current boosting us along. Our complete
set of Canadian charts showed every needed detail of our route
on into Montreal. Likewise, the French-Canadian yacht, heading
was a mere speck on the watery horizon of Lake Champlain
with a skipper at the helm who knew where he was going. I doubt
south,
any more mutually convenient exchange of property was ever
consummated between Americans and French Canadians.
At any point on the boundary between the United States and
if
TICONDEROGA
FRENCH CANADA
35
French Canada, the change of language is as sudden as it is at
every other international boundary where linguistic barriers meet.
This was no new experience for me. I d been through it a thou
sand times, traveling in various parts of the world. Moreover, I
southern California, only a few miles from the Mexican
live in
border in a land that was under Spanish and Mexican dominion
hundred years. Here, bilingual Americans are a dime a
for three
dozen.
When
went to France as a youth, I knew that I had no right
Frenchmen to be spealdng English for my convenience.
No, indeed, it was up to me to speak French. Likewise, when I
went to Germany, I couldn t expect Germans to be speaking my
native language. At home, in California s Alpine San Jacinto
Valley, I don t expect Spanish-speaking Americans or native In
I
to expect
dians or Mexicans to speak fluent English. The polite and courte
ous thing to do is to speak their language, and down through
the year s I ve
found
it
a
sure-fire
way
to
make
friends
and
influence people.
Nevertheless, year after year, I ve gone into one foreign coun
try after another to
some
to
of
be
utterly
amazed and often chagrined by
to be unable
my own monolingual countrymen who seem
cope intelligently with the language barrier.
In 1925, when I spent some weeks in French-speaking Canada
as part of the Transco cruise, English-speaking French Canadians
were as scarce as French-speaking American tourists are in Canada
today. My choice was between speaking French or enduring all
the penalties and potential penalties of being inarticulate. I pre
French none too fluently after long disuse, but
ferred to speak
adequate for every purpose of contact with the people in one of
and picturesque areas of the North American
continent. Now, in 1959, during my tour of French Canada with
Transco II, I hoped to restore my rusty French to some semblance
of working order. But I didn t get very far.
the
most
At
St.
interesting
John, Quebec, Transco II was tied up at a floating
slip
36
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
in a well-equipped government yacht basin. John Dahl and I
stepped ashore in a beautiful little city with little similarity to any
thing to be found in the United States. Although only a few miles
of the broad Richelieu River separated us from the states of New
York and Vermont, it was like being set down somewhere in the
heart of France. Everything was different; French would have to
be the major usable language for the next several weeks.
DOWN THE RICHELIEU
TO SOREL, QUEBEC
We
had intended
to stop at St. Johns only long
enough to load gasoline, potable water, ice, groceries, and a few
other items needed aboard Transco H. We had no more than set
foot on the dock, however, before we were greeted by the usual
delegation of reporters, photographers, radio and television repre
sentatives, the mayor of the city, and various representative citi
zens. For the first few minutes the meeting was little more than
a babel of languages. French Canadians are obviously just as
demonstrative and volatile as continental Frenchmen.
Monsieur le Maire insisted that we see his beautiful, brand-new
City Hall. We did. It was a fine, modern building inside and out
of which any city of 100,000 might be proud. The Mayor was
careful to explain that the building had been designed by a FrenchCanadian architect and built entirely by local French-Canadian
workmen using Canadian materials.
monsieurs must see our tax office!"
said the Mayor,
A modern automatic elevator sped us upstairs, where we stepped
out onto a large and beautiful inlaid tile floor.
"Ah,"
"les
37
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
38
The
was
tax office
distinctly different in
one respect: There
were in front of the tax-collection wickets padded kneeling boards
such as are found in churches. John Dahl was at a loss to know
what the kneeling boards might have to do with the payment of
taxes.
"Ah,"
explained the Mayor,
"perhaps
you do not understand
how deeply religious our French-Canadian people are. They sel
dom do anything without asking le bon Dieu to guide them to do
the right thing. They come in here, and first they kneel and pray for
the good intentions of their elected public officials. They also pray
made of their tax money. They
Then they kneel again and pray that God may
having paid just taxes and give them the grace to
that the best possible use will be
pay
their taxes.
them for
be fair and honest the next time the tax assessor
bless
believe
in
all
Canada
calls. I firmly
righteous prayers are answered. I also believe that here
we have a government that respects the prayers of our
people, as fair and honest a government as fallible mankind has
ever succeeded in devising for himself. Vive la Canada!"
Monsieurs Lasnier and Galipeau, local outboard sales repre
sentatives, insisted that Dahl and I be their guests for dinner that
evening; that
is, if
we had no
objection to eating in a very quiet
and orderly Canadian beer hall famous throughout Quebec for
the superb quality of the food it serves.
We
Those gentlemen were also
modestly truthful about the food. The French Canadians seem to
have the same love of food as their European brothers. Our dinner
gladly accepted this invitation.
that evening
was
as good food is ever liable to be in a
with
literally bulging
good food, good chefs, and restaurant
who
know
how
to
serve
it. In fact, our first week in Canada
people
as
good
land
revealed that the rank and
file of Canadian cuisine is on a
par
with the best in the United States or any other
a
with
country
high
standard of living.
When I visited Canada on the original Transco cruise, the
Canadians had nothing like the high standard of
living that now
prevails throughout the Dominion. Thirty years ago Canada had
DOWN THE RICHELIEU TO
39
SOREL
The country, which then had a popula
of
about
tion
10 million people, lived almost entirely by
only
relatively little industry.
agriculture and exporting raw materials. Practically every manu
factured article was imported from the United States, England, or
France. Today, Canadians can buy everything from a tube of
toothpaste to an automobile or a jet plane, all with the mark MADE
IN CANADA.
Geographically, Canada is larger than the United States, even
with our new states, Hawaii and Alaska. The population is esti
be around 17 million, which means that Canadians are
have plenty of elbow room far into the foreseeable future.
The Canadian economy is expanding by leaps and bounds in every
direction. In 1925, the Dominion had practically no petroleum.
mated
to
going to
Today, Canadian-built motor
Canadian gaso
over the country. Protests
are even being heard in Washington against heavy importations of
line, are
vehicles, fueled with
operating on paved roads
all
Canadian petroleum products into the United States.
Two or three decades ago Canada had few opportunities
to offer
and uni
versities. Many young men and women whom Canada had pro
duced and educated emigrated to the United States. Canada lost
them forever, and the United States gained thousands of highly
the graduates of her vast national chain of high schools
new citizens.
now no longer necessary
desirable
It is
to find greater
in recent years
for young talent to leave Canada
economic opportunities. All this has come about
by
the construction of vast hydroelectric
power
projects, such as those of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Kitimat, and
others. There has also been a tremendous boom in mining enter
prises
around newly discovered resources of iron
ore,
nickel,
uranium, and petroleum. The St. Lawrence Seaway now makes
an ocean seaport of every Canadian city on the Great Lakes, as
it
does of every American city on our side of the lakes.
Not so many years ago much of Canada was considered to be
a sub-arctic wilderness; an uninhabited land of vast distances,
without transportation, frozen solid from six to nine months each
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
40
and permanently useless for the
year; poor in natural resources;
all this. Because
purposes of mankind. Air transportation changed
now has economic po
of the airplane, the Canadian Northland
be able to skip the costly
tentialities as promising as Alaska. It will
of the con
railroad construction that characterized the development
United States and jump right into the Air Age. Canadians
have learned that it is possible to live through long, subzero winters
about as comfortably as they do in Toronto, Montreal, or Quebec.
tinental
tide of emigration out of Canada into the United
reversed. An ever-increasing trickle of Americans
has
been
States
The human
is moving into Canada.
seeking to better themselves economically
of six young Amer
total
a
met
I
While on the Transco II cruise
icans at widely separated points
who were
about to become Cana
dian citizens. They had found good jobs or established themselves
d married Canadian girls. They believed their
in business; they
economic future to be more promising than it might be in the
United States.
Today, under existing Canadian laws, any American who wants
to live in Canada is at liberty to do so. He may take a job or
engage in business with
all
the rights
citizen, except the right to vote.
The surface of Lake Champlain
level.
and
privileges of
a Canadian
normally 103 feet above sea
This means that the Richelieu River, after flowing out of
the lake at
s Point, New York, drops almost 100 feet from
goes into the St. Lawrence at Sorel, Quebec. The
no small river; the average volume of its flow is ap
Rouse
that time until
Richelieu
is
is
it
proximately the same as the Rhine, at Cologne, West Germany.
Put that volume of water on such a slope and it s going somewhere,
fast!
In 1925, when Frank Wilton and I came up the Richelieu, we
had
way from the St. Lawrence
Lake Champlain. In many places the current cut our
less than 1 mile an hour over the ground. The old locks
to fight the swift current all the
at Sorel into
speed to
were
but they were not in operation.
days to get up the Richelieu.
there, as they are today,
took us
five
It
DOWN THE RICHELIEU TO SOREL
41
saw with Transco II! The
old locks remain about the same, but several new dams have been
built. These dams have taken the slope out of the river for pur
What a
different sort of a Richelieu I
poses of navigation; each
electric-power-plant
dam
site.
operation of the locks; no
is
The
also a revenue-producing,
sale
hydro
of electric power finances
are charged for their use.
tolls
St. Johns at 8 o clock in the morning, Transco II
Richelieu and arrived at Sorel, Quebec, in less than
were at the Sorel Yacht Club at 6 in the evening, and
By leaving
down the
ran
one day.
We
bright daylight continued until about 9 P.M. In Sorel,
we were
tow by Monsieur Roger Peticlerc, the local outboard
whose store is in the heart of Sorel s business district.
taken in
dealer,
Farther back on the
near
river,
St.
Ours, I had noted several
miles of shore line along both sides of the river where huge trees
had been uprooted and standing trees had been stripped of bark
to a height of about 15 feet
been an
ice
jam
here, I
above the ground. There must have
mused;
millions of tons of
moving
ice
was
the only imaginable force capable of wreaking such havoc.
In Sorel, I asked Monsieur Peticlerc about the damaged trees.
"Your
observation
is
correct,"
he
replied.
"When
the ice broke
up
this spring it formed a jam up there that threatened several towns
along the river. But we succeeded in breaking the jam with dyna
mite.
We
kept the river in
to the trees
its
channel, and the only
damage was
you
Yacht Club is on the west side of the Richelieu just
above the point where it flows into the St. Lawrence. The city is
on the east side. Fortunately, our mooring place was almost along
side a ferry landing. John Dahl and I took turns riding the ferry
across the river for our meals and to have a look around the city.
The
saw."
Sorel
any language other than French in Sorel, the only place
was when I met Madame Peticlerc. Although a native
of Quebec, she speaks Spanish like a native of Spain. She made
If there is
I
found
it
the Spanish language her hobby after having learned it in schools
and during a series of visits to Cuba and other parts of Latin
America.
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
42
The next morning
the weather looked favorable as
we
left Sorel
Lawrence for Montreal. But Transca II
and headed up
didn t get very far up the huge, swift river before the wind began
to blow; it was a following wind that soon became a 40-mile-anthe St.
hour
gale.
In no time at
all
the wind
was
rolling the current back,
creating the biggest, fastest, meanest waves I ve ever seen
water in all my years of boating experience.
on
fresh
The waves seemed to be 16 feet high and 8 feet apart. They
came at us from all directions at once. Transco IPs bow would
be rising on one wave as another one crashed us from astern.
Countless tons of water went completely over our heads in solid
masses, and
we were
taking spray aboard about as fast as two
could
bilge pumps
put it back in the river. It was impossible to
move or stand in the boat without hanging on. It was also an
uncomfortably cold 45 degrees!
We could have gone into any one of several ports along that
storm-tossed 50 miles of the St. Lawrence, but decided to fight
to Montreal. We made it after six hours of run
reduced speed. We were cold, wet, and bedraggled.
Montreal is a vast commercial seaport. It s an excellent port
in a storm for ships the size of the Queen Mary, but as miserable
the
waves on in
ning at
a place as I ever hope to see for a craft as small as Transco II.
Dabl and I hunted all over the waterfront for a place to tie
up.
The river was so rough, the wind was so violent, and the rain
was so thick that we cruised around for an hour before we found
a place where it was even possible for John to scramble ashore.
We had to go alongside a moored tug so that John could make
a jump for it. I laid off for the hour it took for him to find and
have a conference with the harbor master. The harbor master s
advice was to go up the river to a spot below the first lock of the
old LaChine Canal, where he
water.
We
the
oil
"believed"
we d
find fairly
calm
found the designated place to be only a little better than
open river. The water was very choppy and fouled with crude
from the commercial shipping. I went ashore and had a
DOWN THE RICHELIEU TO SOREL
43
versation with the lock-keeper. He agreed to get us out of our
predicament by putting us through the first lock into an anchorage
basin about 5 acres in area that lay above the lock.
We thus found quiet water, but the area lacked much of being
a yacht club. The rain was still coming down in torrents. With
hands numbed by the cold, we secured Transco II alongside a
gigantic grain elevator. The water was foul with oil-like liquid tar.
To make matters worse, we shared the mooring with five tugs
spewing out clouds of black smoke and soot that turned the rain
an inky liquid.
Remaining aboard Transco
into
II
under these conditions was
quickly ruled out. I called a taxicab and we went to the luxurious
Laurentian Hotel two wave-beaten, half-frozen, wet, and be
draggled scarecrows lugging bags of wet clothing. I chose the
Laurentian because its fast and continuous valet service would
be able to thaw and dry all our wet things overnight. It was a much
brighter world after a hot bath, dry clothing, and a swig of French
Canada s favorite drink, "weesky blanc!"
Weesky blanc is whisky made from wheat. The best brands
it look like spring water in a glass and are 100 proof. It s
of
as
mellow
as moonlight, but with atomic potency.
I ve been in Montreal many times and, to
me,
it is still
one of
the most interesting and attractive cities hi North America. It is
probably the most bilingual city in Canada; about 75 per cent of
the people are French Canadians and only
people are English-speaking Canadians.
25 per cent of the
John Dahl and I spent four days in Montreal, during which
time the weather was mostly bad, with high winds and an almost
continual rain enveloping the city.
FROM MONTREAL
TO ONTARIO
S TRENT WATERWAY
In Montreal, between showers, we had our usual
and television. Some days later, I heard
the first time in French. I managed
for
on
radio, speaking
myself
well
with
remembered
French, reading from a prepared
my
pretty
sessions with press, radio,
script delivered
by teleprompter in the recording studio. I was
from the speaker a sound far better
when I put the speech on tape. The
pleasantly surprised to hear
than I thought it would be
modern tape recorder
is
one of the greatest mechanical aids ever
it permits him to hear him
invented for the student of languages;
self as others hear him.
In Montreal, Transco IIt John Dahl, and I received a generous
press, as Frank Wilton and I had thirty-four years
The
ago.
write-ups, with photo illustrations, appeared in French
in
Presse and hi English in the Montreal Star.
and favorable
"La
On Monday, June 8, the early-morning weather was fair, but
a near-gale wind was blowing up the St. Lawrence. Knowing what
this meant for us out on the broad, swift-flowing river, Dahl and
I decided to
44
go on up the old LaChine Canal into Lake
St.
Louis
MONTREAL
TRENT WATERWAY
45
LaChine. This would save our having to go back downstream
for several miles, crossing the river, and entering the Lambert
at
first lock of the St. Lawrence
Seaway. It would also
bypass us around the St. Catherine Lock, the second lock of the
Seaway. Success or failure of this plan, however, would depend
Lock, the
upon the weather. Lake St. Louis had given the original Transco
a dreadful beating in 1925 when Wilton and I came downstream
across it in a similar upstream wind. If the wind continued,
Transco II could expect to fare no better in attempting to get
across the lake to enter the
Seaway at the Beauharnois Locks.
Lawrence Seaway now provides a far better
route, the old LaChine Canal is rapidly falling into disuse and will
probably be abandoned sooner or later. Its operations are now
Because the
St.
It took four hours for Transco II to get through the
10 miles of the old canal from Montreal to LaChine. We were
haphazard.
delayed in getting through the locks and at each of the numerous
low drawbridges that had to be opened to let us through. At one
bridge we waited for an hour for the bridge tender to come out
from Montreal after I d succeeded in locating him by telephone.
These delays, however, turned out to be another blessing in dis
guise. It was past noon when we got to LaChine. By that time the
wind had died down and we had near-perfect weather for getting
across the vast open-water expanse of Lake St. Louis.
At Le Club Nautique de LaChine we received a hearty wel
come and were invited to linger, but I decided we d better get
across the lake while the weather was favorable. We made the
run from LaChine to the Beauharnois Locks over a huge and
often dangerous lake that remained as smooth as silk for our trip.
Approaching the Beauharnois Locks, Transco II was dwarfed
by the magnitude of her surroundings. We still had no permit for
the St. Lawrence Seaway. What were those French-speaking lockkeepers going to say when I asked them to let this flyspeck of a
boat into locks built to handle gargantuan ocean ships?
The only way to answer this question was to go ashore and
find out
how
cooperative the lock people might be.
We
tied
up
to
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
46
the tremendous sea wall that extends far out into
Lake
St.
Louis
from the first lock gate, a structure that looks more like an office
of a gate. The sea wall was
building than it does like any kind
but a good place for a small boat to tie up, but it was
anything
the only place available.
Up the ladder and on top of the wall, I
walked about 2 miles
before locating the lock master. He spoke no language other than
French, in a staccato style that I failed to understand; he stuttered
like a castanet solo
and then whistled
his
his affliction
polite
own
encores. Apparently
I bore with
my French better than I did his.
sensing that he was making an honest
he could understand
effort to
be
and cooperative.
Finally, I
understood
that, since
he could make no decision
in
such out-of-pattern circumstances, he would have to call the office
of the Superintendent of the St. Lawrence Seaway Administration
in Cornwall, Ontario. After putting the telephone call
through in
and
then
handed
me
sentences
a
few
he
French,
stuttery
spoke
the
in
had
lockman
the
the phone. And, since
French,
spoken
in French.
polite thing for me to do seemed, I should speak
As best I could, I described the situation and requested that
Transco II be granted permission to traverse the Seaway. I an
swered numerous questions, knowing that boats under 20 feet in
length are not permitted in the St. Lawrence Seaway.
When
be
"20
that question
feet,
4
came, as
I
knew
it
would,
my
answer would
inches."
H s length would be about 22 feet if we added
and the overhang of the motors to her 19-foot main
Actually, Transco
the motor well
hull.
We continued talking in French,
although I was in a sweat grop
ing for words from a vocabulary all but lost through years of
disuse. Then, I learned that I was speaking with a Mr. Sprung.
The name didn t sound French, so I asked. From there we com
pleted the conversation in English.
No man
more courteous and cooperative.
was not customary to issue permits to boats
could ever have been
Mr. Sprung said
it
MONTREAL
TRENT WATERWAY
47
seeking to enter the Seaway at intermediate points. However, in
view of the circumstances I had explained, he d be happy to make
an exception in our case. He would instruct the lock master at
the Beauharnois
to see
him
Locks
in person
the perimt and
to send us through.
He would
arrival at Cornwall,
upon
pay the toll charges.
then ask us
where
I could
pick up
In the Beauharnois Locks, Transco II looked like a Lilliputian
toy. The two locks are each 900 feet long. They are 80 feet wide
between the lock sills and have a minimum water depth of 30
feet. The two locks lift or lower vessels a perpendicular 84 feet.
Transco II entered these locks and tied up in a corner. A 20,000-
German
Robert Bornholm, then snailed her way into
the locks behind us. When the gates were closed we had a view
that was like looking up from the bottom of a gigantic well. Look
ing up from under the bow of the German ship reminded me of
ton
ship,
trying to see the top of
from the
New York
City
s
Empire
State Building
street.
The Beauharnois Locks lifted Transco II from the level of Lake
St. Louis to the level of Lake St. Francis. This drop was formerly
made by the infamous Rapide Soulanges (The Long Soo Rapids)
which the original Transco had come down without mishap in
1925, bouncing over towering waves at white-water speed. All
those terrifying St. Lawrence River rapids today are drowned in
the lakes that
were created by the control dams of the
St.
Law
rence Seaway.
Once above the Beauharnois Locks, we
of daylight,
near-perfect weather, and
still
had
several hours
flat-water sailing for the
20-mile run into Valleyfield, Quebec. There, at Le Club Nauitque
de Valleyfield, we were promptly taken in tow by as jovial a group
of
French Canadians as
before
I ever
hope to meet. Only a few minutes
pulled up with Transco II at the club docks, various
and members of the club had seen us on television in a
we
officials
Montreal-recorded broadcast in French and English.
I have yet to meet a French Canadian without a delightful
sense of humor. This
was again proven when we met Monsieur
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
48
around in the Valleyfield club that
evening. He told us that he was the inventor, manufacturer, and
exclusive Canadian wholesaler of a rotating spaghetti fork. John
Jules
Coteau while
Dahl and
we
I
sitting
had never heard of any such unique eating
could easily imagine
Actually, I thought
tool,
but
its utilitarian merits for eating spaghetti.
we d met some
subtle,
French-Canadian humor
Monsieur Coteau produced a couple of his forks, ordered
plates of spaghetti, and proceeded to show us how they work.
until
The
forks were successful, and should be equally useful for
eating noodles, which, like spaghetti,
seem to have a
definite aver
With the rotating spa
fork
the
tines
with an index finger,
rotate
fork
ghetti
you just
wind the spaghetti securely on the tines, and convey it to the
mouth. It really works! No more spaghetti (or noodles) slipping
and skidding all over the place. At first, Monsieur Cotedu couldn t
find anyone in Canada to manufacture them. Eventually, he found
a manufacturer in Japan who is now making them for him. The
sion to being eaten with forks or spoons.
forks are selling very well in Canada.
At Cornwall we found a small marina that was within a mile
new office building that houses the St. Lawrence Seaway
of the
Authority. It was there that I went to keep the appointment with
Mr. W. M. Sprung. I found him to be very much the sort of
gentleman I d visualized him to be.
I received the official permit for
Transco II to operate on the
Lawrence Seaway. There was no further question about the
size of the boat. I paid a toll charge of $14 based on the
Seaway
tariff $7 per ton for a noncommercial craft of 2 tons or
slightly
St.
At
my
was the
first
less.
request,
Mr. Sprung
verified the fact that
Transco II
small pleasure boat of American registry to
the
St. Lawrence Seaway.
trip through
make
the
Returning to the marina on the Cornwall waterfront, I found
John Dahl swapping yarns with the usual group of newsmen. There
was nothing to do but cooperate with them, although it took an
other hour at dockside out of a daylight
day.
By
this
time experi-
MONTREAL
TRENT WATERWAY
49
ence had taught us that any attempt to keep a schedule while on
a transcontinental cruise is worse than useless.
From Cornwall we took Transca II across the river and up
stream a few miles to the foot of the Snell Lock. Half an hour later
we were over the lock, speeding on to the Eisenhower Lock. In
two locks and the few miles between them we were back in
New York again. Snell and Eisenhower Locks are the
of
the St. Lawrence Seaway within the United States.
only part
these
the State of
Consequently, they are American-administered; temporarily, at
English became the official language again.
least,
With daylight to spare we were soon back in Canadian waters,
speeding upstream through the area where the St. Lawrence is
10 miles wide and dotted with numerous islands. The river had
been very fast and narrow when I came down it in 1925.
we were now in wasn t even there then, having
been formed when the Moses-Saunders Dam was completed a few
The huge
lake
The
miles above Cornwall.
Long Soo rapids and made
hills
when
lake drowned another portion of the
islands out of some rolling Canadian
the rising waters surrounded them. It was here that
Transco II passed out of the Canadian province of Quebec and
entered Ontario, a Dominion province nearly twice the size of
Texas.
As we approached the Iroquois control dam and locks, Dahl
and I began looking for a place to tie up, with the intention of
remaining aboard Transco II that night. If we tied up in the river,
however, we knew we d be jostled all through the night by every
passing ship; the volume of Seaway traffic made this undesirable.
finally settled the problem very neatly by running about a
We
quarter of a mile into an abandoned portion of the old Long Soo
Canal. There were May flies and a few mosquitoes there, but with
a screened cabin and an aerosol bomb we could hold our
against the insect pests.
We
own
we
preferred the quiet water where
wouldn t be bounced around by
ships that passed in the night.
we made
a beeline for the Iroquois lock
Early next morning
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
50
the gate swing open to admit a rusty Norwegian
tons that we had passed far down on
freighter of about 18,000
Lake St. Francis. The green light remained on for us, and we
gate
when we saw
followed the freighter into the lock, last of the St. Lawrence Sea
way locks. Coming out of the Iroquois Lock, we were on the
level of
the St.
Lake Ontario, 246 feet above sea level. In the locks of
Lawrence Seaway we had climbed up 228 feet from the
surface of the river at Montreal,
For
that day, Thursday,
June
which
is
11, the
18 feet above sea
level.
weather was uncomforta
bly hot, but ideal for our purposes of cruising through a section
of the St. Lawrence renowned for its scenic beauty. In flat water
was amazed by the speed with which Transco II could run off a
next one. Many times
large-scale chart and start eating up the
that day I took my eyes off the instrument panel long enough to
note that we often kept abreast of the slower-moving cars and
trucks on the highway that follows the shore on the north side
of the St. Lawrence practically all the way from Kingston on Lake
I
Ontario to the City of Quebec.
Navigating this portion of the St. Lawrence is no problem at
Dahl and I merely followed the buoy-marked ship lanes, know
all.
ing exactly where we were on the charts every minute.
few miles above Brockville, Ontario, the ship lane becomes
A
two ship lanes through the Thousand Islands.
channel because
and some
for the
boatman
Bay
took the north
we planned
supplies.
Alexandria
We
to stop at Gananoque to pick up mail
a color-print, picture-post-card country
there ever was one. After going under the
Here
if
is
Bridge, the
Thousand Island region becomes
a
veritable fairyland of castle-studded islands, almost too beautiful
There are actually about 1,700 islands in
of them the property of Canada.
to
be
true!
this area, all
We passed Heart Island,
which is dominated by an ornate castle
was never quite finished by its millionaire owner, a man by
the name of Boldt. Back in the 1890 s, it is said, one of Boldt s
that
chefs concocted a tasty salad dressing,
the world as Thousand Island dressing.
known
to this
day around
TRENT WATERWAY
MONTREAL
51
Transco II arrived in Gananoque at noon, poking her nose up
the river to tie up at a small marina at the foot of a power dam.
one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots imagina
the town look like something picked up from
the heart of France and set down in Canada. Enroute to Gan-
Here
ble.
is
The harbor and
anoque
s
before I
there, as
Department des Postes, I hadn t been ashore five minutes
was spotted and recognized by dozens of people. And
elsewhere in French Canada, I was addressed, "Monsieur
Capitaine ogg". In French, the letter
included only in the written alphabet.
Leaving Gananoque,
h has no vocal sound;
we soon passed Kingston to
start
it is
our cross
Lake Ontario. Here was a stretch
of water where we almost lost sight of land. In bad weather,
Transco II or any other small boat would be in serious danger
here. But the weather was good to us. Lake Ontario was like a
ing of the far northeast corner of
we got across this wide-open stretch at full cruising
the slightest incident. In no time at all, or so it
without
speed
seemed, we were speeding through the sheltered waters of
vast millpond;
Adolphus Reach, Long Reach, and the Bay of Quinte.
6 o clock that evening, we entered the Trent River and tied
dock in the heart of the City of Trenton, with sev
up
eral hours of daylight to spare. We had come to the eastern end
By
at a public
of the Trent
necting
Waterway System, the boat route
Lake Ontario and Lake Huron.
The Trent Waterway is 240.55
any boatman who can find a way
across Ontario con
miles of delightful boating for
it. I was so
to get himself into
impressed with its beauties and charm in 1925 that those
ories were still with me aboard Transco II in 1959.
mem
This scenic beauty had led me to tentatively schedule the
Transco II cruise to spend a week in the Trent Waterway. That
may seem like wasting a lot of time to cover a distance of 240.55
miles in a boat easily capable of 25 miles an hour, but for those
are out to enjoy boating without striving for any speed
who
records,
it s
a good idea to spend as
Trent Waterway System.
much
time as possible in the
52
One could
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
easily
spend an entire summer cruising several thou
sand miles and visiting the countless scenic spots in wilderness
areas off the established boat route. Here, in the remote reaches
is an unspoiled land of forests, quiet
visited by only a handful of human
streams
and
bubbling
bays,
Here
are hundreds of square miles of
one
in
year.
any
beings
waters teeming with fish that few fishermen have ever tried.
The contiguous land areas are alive with every form of animal and
bird life known to the North Temperate Zone.
At numerous points along the boat route there are thriving
little towns and delightful small cities. And the Canadians!
Well,
to know them is to love them. There is no other area on the face
of the earth where the people are more cultured, more
friendly,
of huge connected lakes,
or more hospitable.
Months of preparation went
Here Hogg
into both
Transco voyages.
studies one of the thousands of charts
used during the second trip.
53
and maps
54
55
56
On
to Oregon! Transco II passes under the majestic George
Washington Bridge as she speeds up the Hudson on the
first day of the trip.
I!
2
si
I
Si
The Champlain Canal was the first of several man-made
inland waterways that made Transco s trip across the con
tinent easier and quicker.
59
Hogg and Dahl avoided
diesel tug
York, into
delays by trailing a Canadian
through the Champlain Canal -from Troy, New
Lake Champlain.
60
At Marina Buoy 39 near Orwell, Vermont, the bad-weather
delay gave the travelers the opportunity to remove about
300 pounds of excess baggage.
61
In the
first of the Beauharnois Locks of the St. Lawrence
Seaway, Transco II is dwarfed by the German freighter,
Robert Bornholm.
63
Transco II entering the hydraulic lift lock at Peterborough,
Ontario. This huge "elevator" raises or lowers boats 65
feet as they go through the Trent Waterway.
64
65
In the Trent Waterway the Big Chute Marine Railway car
ried Transco II over one of the dams there.
On
oil
the car of the marine railway, John
off the hull.
and other foreign matter
66
Dahl swabs crude
The mayor of Peterborough, Ontario, presents a Canadian
Captain Hogg, for delivery to Oregon s Governor
flag to
Mark
Hatfield.
II m Mickey Duggan s marina after near-disaster
Lake Michigan. The Straits of Mackinac Bridge is 5
Transco
in
miles away, in the background.
68
LAKE ONTARIO TO PETERBOROUGH
VIA
WE TRENT WATERWAY
The spot where Transco II was tied up in Trenton
was by no means a satisfactory one. The water was heavily pol
luted, and the city had no marina facilities, not even a waterfront
fuel pump. Since we preferred not to eat and sleep aboard in such
a cesspool, Dahl and I decided to go ashore. We found a very
good Chinese restaurant, but no hotel that looked attractive. We
then decided to move the boat, went up the Trent River to a
Canadian Government dock, and found water clean enough to
let
us sleep aboard without risking our health.
With an early-morning start the next day, we hoped to be in
Peterborough by evening. But what about gasoline? We finally
located a man with a tank truck who agreed to meet us below Lock
No. 1, about a mile up the river from Trenton.
At this point a brief description of the Trent Waterway System
is in order. It would take a well-illustrated book to describe it in
detail, but I have assembled here facts for boatmen who con
template visiting this delightful vacation land that engineering
science has assembled out of existing geography.
69
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
70
various groups of French and
the mouth of the St. Law
from
British explorers found their way
rence and into the Great Lakes to the present site of Chicago,
built up an accumulation of maps that could be
About three
centuries ago,
when
they gradually
studied
were
and compared. There
sketched in the wilderness
is
no doubt
that the
by men unskilled
maps, which
as cartographers,
were grotesquely inaccurate by the standards of mapmaking of
accurate to reveal that
today. Nevertheless, they were sufficiently
across the Isthmus of Ontario there was a route strewn with rivers
and lakes that could be used as a canoe route a shortcut between
Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. Traveling this route involved a
number of portages, but the early explorers and their camp fol
lowers, the traders, preferred the hardships of the portages if they
could reduce travel distances by hundreds of miles. This was the
beginning of the Trent
Any modern map
Waterway System.
will reveal that, although the
Trent takes
by a voyage of 240.55 miles,
from one end of the Trent
than
600
miles
a voyage of more
boats across the Ontario Isthmus
it is
by way of the Welland Canal, Lake Erie, the
Lake St. Claire, and Lake Huron. Thus, the pio
neers and those who followed saved about 360 miles.
In 1925, when I skippered Transco across the continent, I
chose the Trent route for two reasons. It eliminated approximately
360 miles of useless, uninteresting distance through vast, wideopen waters where bad weather would mean delays and danger for
any small boat The shorter Trent route offered a safer journey
mostly through sheltered waters. This was a far more interesting
small-boat highway through picturesque and scenic country un
spoiled by the noise and odors created by industrialization. Thus,
route to the other
Detroit River,
maps,
logic,
and experience
told
me
to take the Trent
as part of the route across the continent for
The
Transco
Waterway
II.
idea of creating the Trent Waterway as we know it today
when the United States was in a life-or-death struggle
originated
the Civil War. During that war Canadian wheat was in
great de
in the states that remained loyal to the Union. And to
get
mand
LAKE ONTARIO
PETERBOROUGH
71
wheat from the wheat-growing provinces in western Canada, Cana
dians conceived the idea of building a barge canal across the
Ontario Isthmus, thus shortening the distance between Lake Huron
and Lake Ontario. Very
imagination was needed to visualize
The isthmus was strewn with big
and little lakes, overflowing to form rivers that flow in opposite
directions, into Lake Huron and into Lake Ontario. Dig a few
miles of canals, put in some dams and locks, connect the lakes
this rather
little
ambitious project.
a water route over the few stretches where the
and
traders had to portage their canoes, and there
early explorers
would be formed a commercial barge canal right across the On
tario Isthmus. So reasoned those who favored the project.
and the
rivers with
Preliminary surveys
of the Trent
made
Waterway
in the 1880s revealed the feasibility
project. Actual construction
began soon
1912, the barge canal was in
wheat
Canadian
began to move over the shortened
operation.
route between Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. The Trent Water
after the turn of the century.
way gave
ment
By
the Province of Ontario
more than a valuable improve
in transportation. It created dozens of ideal sites for the
development of hydroelectric power. This power brought lumber
mills, paper factories, and other industry to the area; towns and
thriving cities
were
built in the former wilderness of forests, lakes,
and
roaring, white-water streams.
Today, the Trent Waterway as a commercial transportation
route is a thing of the past. Its once-vast fleets of freight barges
are
little
more than
nostalgic
memories of elderly Canadians. The
barges could not compete with improved Great Lakes steamers
that can now load wheat in any Canadian port on Lake Superior
and deliver it in Montreal for a few cents per ton. The railroads
and a network of improved highways swallowed the remaining
fragments of the Trent Waterway freight business.
But the water route for pleasure boating is still there. All the
New ones have
original hydroelectric plants are still in operation.
been and are being added. Potential sites for further power devel
opment are also there. Revenue from the sale of hydroelectric
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
72
of the Trent
power has long been sufficient to permit operation
attraction.
tourist
Waterway as a toll-free
Trenton, at the Ontario end of the Waterway, as I have already
stated, is
A modern
not a very attractive place.
sewage disposal system
is
It is
improving, however.
under construction. An improved
also being built and promises to elim
small-boat marina
is
inate the present water-pollution problem.
the waterway starts out of Lake Ontario at an alti
tude of 243 feet above sea level. From there it climbs up to its
At Trenton
"summit,"
down
841 feet on the surface of Balsam Lake. Then it comes
upon entering Georgian Bay. This is the level
to 578.5 feet
Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
To get over the hump at Balsam Lake and down again to the
level of Lake Huron, the Trent Waterway has a total of fortythree float locks, two gigantic hydraulic lift locks, and two marine
railways. At each of these points where water levels change, the
cruising boatman may expect to be detained about half an hour,
more or less. This means a total of about eighteen and one-half
hours going up or down from one water level to another. The
of
may vary considerably. If the boat traffic is heavy,
an
take
to get through a single float lock. Or, if every
hour
may
condition is favorable, one may be lucky enough to get through
time, of course,
it
any of the water-level changes in as little as twenty minutes. Boat
ing on the Trent Waterway today is essentially the same as Frank
Wilton and I found it when we came through in 1925.
The Trent Waterway has every appearance
of having
been
built
to last a thousand years. The lock sills are of stone masonry, huge
blocks of stone cut and fitted together like the walls of an ancient
European
cathedral. In
a land where
electric
power
is
cheap and
opening and closing the gates opening or closing the
huge valves to flood a lock chamber or let the water out is still
plentiful,
done by
The
man power.
on or near the lock property.
hear
a
boat
they
give a horn signal, they saunter out and
start winding the cranks.
Usually the crank is a double-ended
When
lock-keepers usually live
LAKE ONTARIO
boom
steel
PETERBOROUGH
like the
73
kind on an old-fashioned
grist mill that
used
by horses. The lock-keeper gets on one end of the
boom, his assistant (if he has one) gets on the other, and around
and around they go in a circle until they pry open a gate or lock
to be turned
valve.
member
of a boating
party becomes the lock-keeper s voluntary assistant That is often
the quickest way to get a boat past a change of water levels in the
Quite frequently the skipper of a boat or
Trent Waterway.
Leaving Trenton early on the morning of Friday, June 12, John
Dahl and I hoped to be in Peterborough by late afternoon. The
weather was favorable. Attaining our objective would depend on
how
long
it
might take to get through a
would lift Transco II from 243
Trenton to 613 feet at Peterborough.
locks that
total of nineteen float
feet
above sea level at
Six of these locks are a sort of aquatic stairway through dams
across the Trent River in the 7.26 miles between Trenton and
Frankford.
We
got through those locks with their swarms of
Lock No.
May
Glen Ross, put us
into Percy Reach, a lakelike expansion in the Trent River where
the water surface is 373 feet above sea level.
flies
in remarkably
good
time.
7, at
Beyond Percy Reach there s another stairway of locks the
double-lifts at Ranney Falls and Heely Falls that took us up to
a 25-mile stretch of the Trent River that is 604 feet above sea
level. For a boat traveling entirely on water we were certainly
climbing
fast!
Hastings, Lock No. 18, Transco II was lifted to the level of
Lake
and the Otonabe River, 613 feet above sea level and
Rice
370 feet above Lake Ontario.
Rice Lake is big and shallow. It is about 20 miles in length
and averages 4 to 5 miles in width. If anyone thinks that such
a lake can t get rough, he hasn t seen Rice Lake when the wind
At
blows!
Transco II was just about in the middle of the lake when the
wind began to blow.
gentle breeze soon became a 25-mile-an-
A
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTOTBOAT
74
hour wind. In a few minutes the lake became a heaving mass of
waves and whitecaps that tossed Transco II around like a cork
and sent countless tons of water flying over our heads and far
astern.
For a time
it
looked as
if
we d have
to seek shelter in the
one of the lake s several islands or put in at the little town
of Harwood, which lies behind a protecting peninsula on the south
shore near the middle of the lake s length.
By running at reduced speed, however, we were in no immediate
lee of
to fight the lake;
danger if the wind became no worse. We decided
we could take another 10 miles of it, we d come to the mouth
of the Otonabe River, where there would be sheltered waters
if
for the remaining distance into Peterborough.
ment, then, and
made
We took the punish
it.
Once into the Otonabe we were in a different kind of a world.
The river seemed very small and narrow after the vastness and
turbulence of Rice Lake. It twists and turns for miles and miles
through a veritable jungle of temperate-zone forest and under
brush. Fortunately, the channel is deep and well marked. I drove
Transco II over the entire length of the Otonabe, about 25 miles,
and it was a thrill to be remembered forever.
For mile after mile, with wide-open throttles, I took the boat
skidding around the innumerable twists and turns in the river.
The shores are so near on both sides that it took constant jockey
ing of the wheel to keep off the banks. I didn t have to worry
about the wash astern because there was nothing there to be dis
turbed but the forest and rocks. The echoes that came rolling back
out of the forest sounded like a
fleet
of outboards speeding
up
the river.
At one
point near the
mouth
of Squirrel Creek I came into a
where I could see the course ahead
About half a mile ahead I sighted something
long, straight stretch of river
for at least 2 miles.
that looked like several small heaps of brush moving
slowly across
the river. To determine what this was, I reached for a pair of field
glasses.
The mystery cleared
instantly.
There was a herd of deer swim-
LAKE ONTARIO
PETERBOROUGH
The
75
of brush" turned out to be the
John Dahl, who was in the cabin,
to come out and see something he d never see on Manhattan
Island. By the time he could get himself out of the cabin door,
however, the deer had splashed ashore and disappeared into the
ming across the
river.
"heaps
antlers of the bucks. I called to
forest.
At another point a few miles farther on I came swinging around
a point of land at full throttle to see something I had never seen
before and will probably never see again. On the shore not 30
feet away there was a half-submerged auto tire. There, in the
a pair of pintail ducks had a nest. As I passed,
sitting on the old tire with more than a dozen little
center of the
ducks were
tire,
ducklings swimming around in
Papa Duck, Mama Duck, and
front of them. I looked
all
corks over Transco IPs waves.
time of their lives and so was
the
They
back to see
ducklings bobbing like
were apparently having the
little
I!
We went through Lock No.
and were soon
tied
up
19 on the outskirts of Peterborough
at a government dock in the heart of the
with several hours of daylight still to go. We intended to
remain in Peterborough over the weekend. It was our big chance
city,
to get everything shipshape aboard Transco II with the cooperation
of the Canadian Division of the Outboard Marine Corporation.
Soon
after stepping ashore in
Peterborough I
a stabbing
a small, hard
felt
pain in an upper right molar. Simultaneously, I felt
object adrift in my mouth. I fished out a gold inlay. Here was a
purely personal matter in which I needed help, fast. But how does
a stranger in a Canadian city find a dentist late on a Friday
afternoon?
I spoke to Mr. Dave Sutherland, the No. 2
dian Outboard Marine organization.
"I
think I can do something about
that,"
for the telephone and dialed a number.
After a brief conversation on the phone,
official
he
said.
you."
He
call
Cana
reached
he turned to me.
have an appointment with Dr. John Braund, I ll
for
of the
"You
a taxicab
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
76
A
few minutes
later I
was
at
Gate No.
1
of the Outboard
Marine plant. I waited for about ten minutes without sighting the
anticipated taxi.
whizzed through the gate and slid to a stop. As
a
heavy male voice blared from its radio speaker:
stopped,
"Go to Gate No. 1; look for a man with a beard." The taxi driver
Finally, a taxi
it
had found the man he was looking for.
About an hour later my emergency session with the dentist was
completed and the inlay was restored. I went back to Mr. Suther
s office, where I think I did a rather sorry job of being inter
viewed by representatives of the press; half my face was still
temporarily paralyzed from a shot of novocaine.
land
When Mr.
his
Sutherland noticed
comment was,
frozen your
"Yes,"
"Oh!
You
my face
look as
if
by a half-smile,
Dr. Braund must have
distorted
face!"
I replied,
"if
freezing
be happier when the thaw-out
is
what you
call it in
Canada,
m
comes!"
Leaving Peterborough, after a well-spent weekend, we came to
lock No. 20, just inside the city limits. There the lock-keeper, an
man, came to the lock sill, extended his hand, and said,
Hogg, welcome back to the Trent Waterway! Do you
remember me?"
elderly
"Captain
"George
Thank God
put
Eason!"
I exclaimed.
"Indeed
for keeping us both alive these
me through this lock with my boat,
I
do remember you!
years since you
many
Transcol"
Mr. Eason, now sixty years of age, was the keeper of this same
lock when Frank Wilton and I went
through it in 1925. He was
then serving his first year on the job. He is now
eligible for retire
ment, but says he prefers to keep on working.
"Excuse me for a
moment, please," said Mr. Eason.
want
"I
to step into the office. I believe I
can show you something of
interest." He
disappeared into the office, but was soon back on
the lock sill carrying a bulky
ledger.
The ledger
of the Trent
was the record of boats
sent through Lock No. 20
Waterway during the navigation season of 1925.
LAKE ONTARIO
PETERBOROUGH
77
Turning the yellowing pages he soon found the entry he was seek
was in his own handwriting. "Wednesday, September 6,
1925. Locked down motorboat Transcontinental (which we ab
breviated to Transco.) 2:30 P.M., Skipper, John Edwin Hogg,
Alhambra, California, U.S.A., Assistant, Frank S. Wilton, Huntington Park, California, U.S.A. Both U.S. citizens."
ing. It
8
ACROSS ONTARIO, FROM PETERBOROUGH
INTO LAKE
HURON
Lock No. 21, within the city limits of Peterbor
an Ontario showplace. It is the world s largest hydraulic
lift lock. It is essentially a huge balanced elevator with two rec
tangular tanks of water riding on pistons that look like king-sized
silos. In a matter of minutes it raises or lowers a seagoing yacht
or a veritable fleet of smaller boats a perpendicular 65 feet. How
does this Gargantuan piece of machinery work?
There are gates in both ends of each of the two water tanks.
They are very much like the gates in an ordinary float lock, but
ough,
is
instead of swinging open horizontally, the lift-lock gates are hori
bottom and open vertically from the top.
With the gate open at the end of approach, a large yacht or a
number of smaller boats move in. The gate is then closed and the
two great tanks, boats "aboard," begin to move.
As one tank goes up, the other comes down. The weight of
the two tanks is exactly balanced on the two gigantic pistons be
cause the weight of one tank with any given weight of boats in it
zontally hinged at the
78
PETERBOROUGH
LAKE HURON
79
exactly balanced against the weight of the other tank full of
water with or without boats. Thus, a few relatively small electric
motors geared into the mechanism furnish ample power for the
is
entire lock operation.
At
gate
the top of the lock the rising tank comes to a stop. The
opened, and the ascending boat or boats go out under their
is
own power
at
into a section of canal 65 feet above the water level
which they entered the tank.
The Trent Waterway above Peterborough is a continuation of
up the Otonobe River, and I really mean up\ Including
the route
the huge
lift
lock, there are eight locks in about
Peterborough and Stony Lake. Those eight locks
a total of 156 feet.
As we went through
10 miles between
lift
or lower boats
those locks, John Dahl and I found our
moving right along with the Canadian May fly season. The
northern Canadian May flies might more appropriately be called
June flies. All the locks swarmed with them. They were with us into
Katchiwano Lake when we remained aboard overnight at Lakefield. After that we never saw another one and were happy to be
selves
rid of them.
From Stony Lake on into Georgian Bay, a distance of about
100 miles, is by far the best and most scenic part of the Trent
Waterway System. Along this part of the route the towns become
fewer, smaller, and
more
scattered.
rocky and more rugged; pine
all
The scenery becomes more
forests begin to
the water
is cold,
crowd every land
crystal-clear, and
scape. Here, practically
pure enough to drink.
Arriving on Balsam Lake, thirty-five locks and 157 miles from
Trenton and Lake Ontario, Transco II had reached the summit
of the Trent Waterway. We were now 841 feet above sea level
feet above Lake Ontario. At Kirkfield, a few miles west
Balsam Lake, we entered the Kirkfield hydraulic lift lock, which
is very similar to the one at Peterborough. We were starting our
level of Lake Huron
trip down the aquatic stairway to the water
and 598
of
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
80
and Lake Michigan. This drop of 262.5 feet is accomplished by
of which are flight locks and
going down four float locks, three
two marine railways.
At
the Kirkfield Lift
lar to the
one
I
Lock I had another pleasant surprise simi
at Lock No. 20, at Peterborough, where
had had
had met George Eason.
Cornelius Macdonald was the operator of the Kirkfield Lift
Lock in 1925. On September 4 of that year he had operated the
I
me
lock to hoist Frank Wilton and
to the level of
Balsam Lake.
eighty-two years of age, retired, and living near the
lock where he was employed during the greater part of his long
He
now
is
Having seen Transco II, John Dahl, and me on television, he
came to the lock to meet us and renew a thirty-four-year-old
life.
acquaintance.
Coming down from Balsam Lake, John Dahl and I encountered
a knotty problem at Lock No. 41. This lock is located almost
at the end of a short stretch of artificially excavated canal between
a small lake known as Canal Lake and Lake Simcoe, the largest
and most notoriously dangerous lake for small boats in the whole
Trent Waterway System. Just below the lock there
highway over the canal.
is
a low bridge
that carries a
It
lock.
was 5:05
in the afternoon
The lock-keeper had gone
in his cabin, calmly counting,
leeches he
The
would later
sell
when Transco
off
duty at
II arrived at this
5 o clock. I found him
from one dish pan into another,
for fishbait.
would have been entirely within
he had refused to put us through the lock after his
working hours. But he obligingly offered to put us through to per
mit us to take advantage of existing perfect weather for getting
across Lake Simcoe. But what about that low bridge down there?
Could we get under it? The bridge tender had already knocked
lock-keeper, of course,
his rights if
day and gone home.
Dahl and I decided to go down the lock and worry about the
bridge when we came to it. We found that we lacked about 6
inches of clearance for getting under the
bridge. We could go
off for the
LAKE HURON
PETERBOROUGH
81
under the bridge by removing the windshield, or we could wait
for another day and possibly find ourselves with bad weather that
would mean staying
off
Lake Simcoe.
took us about forty-five minutes to remove the windshield,
the bridge, and put the windshield back again. We still
under
go
It
had plenty of daylight left for getting across Lake Simcoe, into
OriHia on Lake Couchiching, where we hoped to stop that night
at
Holland
s
Marina.
Speeding out of the canal, we found the huge lake like a sheet
of glass. The opposite shore line was not even visible under a
lowering sun.
The prudent thing to do was to set a course for
the throttles, and try to get there before the weather
Orillia, open
had a chance to change. Lake Simcoe has a bad reputation. Some
weeks earlier five Royal Canadian Constables had started across
the lake from Orillia in a 25-foot motorboat. A blow came up and
caught them in the middle of the lake. Their bodies, each in a
life preserver, were found floating in the lake several days later.
They had died either from suffocation in the waves or from blood
fatally chilled in the icy water.
The wisdom of our decision to get across the lake while the
going was good was soon demonstrated. Orillia was in sight and
we were coming into the narrow strait that connects Lake Simcoe
with Lake Couchiching when the wind began to blow. Lake
Couchiching was running whitecaps by the time we got through the
and across about 2 miles of open water in the smaller lake
s Marina on the Orillia waterfront. It took little imag
ination to visualize what Lake Simcoe would have been in the
30-mile-an-hour wind that continued to howl all night and all the
strait
to Rolland
next day!
Orillia we took Transco II into a slip in a marina operated
a
third
by
generation of the Rolland family. There on Saturday,
At
June 13, a grandson of the man who pumped gasoline into the
s tanks
original Transco in 1925 put the hose into Transco
and loaded 50 gallons. The present Mr. Rolland, a man less than
H
half
my
age, told
me how his
grandfather had told his father about
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
82
had relayed the story to
old
enough to have a lively interest
him when he became a boy
in the geography of the world.
the 1925 voyage of Transco. His father
John Dahl and I shoved off next morning from Orillia and
headed down the length of Lake Couchiching into the teeth of a
one compared with its
howling North wind. The lake is a small
into
overflows
it, but it was running
big brother, Simcoe, which
We
began to wonder
whitecaps and getting rougher by the minute.
if we could make our way through its 10-mile length to Washago,
where the sheltered Severn River would become our downhill
route into Georgian Bay. Since we were in
we decided to go on at reduced speed.
no immediate danger,
We
reached the quiet
waters of the Severn at Washago, after an hour of pounding
through Lake Couchiching for 10 cold, wet, and uncomfortable
miles.
Beyond Washago,
after
about 15 miles in the sheltered waters
of the Severn with a gentle current boosting us along, Sparrow
Lake promised to be our next trouble spot, if the wind continued
to blow. Sparrow Lake is an expansion in the Severn River that
was created by construction of a 50-foot-high dam that drowned
the notorious Swift Rapids of the Severn when the Trent Water
way was built.
When we arrived at Sparrow Lake we found the wind dying
down, so we went straight across the lake. The whitecaps disap
peared before we were even halfway across. We were soon back
in the quiet waters of the Severn again and sped on to the up
stream end of the Swift Rapids Marine Railway.
At Swift Rapids a huge dam of earth-fill and masonry blocks
the Severn. It channels part of the flow of water through the
and diverts the surplus over
spillway that looks like a miniature Niagara Falls.
hydroelectric turbines
railway portages boats
up and over the
a man-made
The marine
earth-filled portion of the
dam.
Except for a
fairly recent coat of paint, the
Swift Rapids looks exactly as I
saw
it
marine railway
in August,
1925,
at
when
LAKE HURON
PETERBOROUGH
Frank Wilton and
I rode
it
83
over the
hill.
The same old
cars,
cable incline, crossties, and rails are there and in operation exactly
as they were thirty-four years ago. I could see nothing that had
changed, although there was ample evidence of routine care and
maintenance.
Since leaving Montreal, John Dahl and I had had no way to
clean Transco IPs hull below the waterline, and her snow-white
fiber glass
was foul with
the tarlike, black oil she
Canadian seaport.
had picked up in
We had long
discussed the possibility
of doing a hull-cleaning job while our craft was out of water
drydocked, so to speak, on a car of the Swift Rapids Marine
that great
Railway.
It was nearly 5 o clock in the afternoon when we arrived at
the Swift Rapids Marine Railway. Nevertheless, the operator
graciously offered to work overtime, if necessary, to put Transco
II over the hill.
I almost hesitated to ask
while
we
him to
it
on the car
least an hour.
the boat remain
The task would take at
seemed rather obvious that no other boats were
cleaned the hull.
Simultaneously,
let
be coming along to ask for service after the operator s
hours.
working
After thinking things through quite carefully, I finally mustered
enough courage to speak to the operator about it. His reply was a
likely to
delightful surprise.
"I
m
me
ing
the car,
he said. "My wife will soon be call
what
I ll do. We ll get your boat on
you
over
the
and
hill,
pull
stop on the downgrade. We won t
as
hungry as a
wolf,"
to dinner. Tell
have any more boats along today, so I ll go have my dinner.
can have an hour to do your cleaning job before I return."
You
The agreement could hardly have been better. The car was sent
the rails until its bed was submerged to a depth of about 3
feet Transco II was floated aboard and the hull blocks on the car
were adjusted. The car moved up the hill and then came to a stop
on the downgrade, with our dry-docked boat aboard.
From a nearby house we heard a dinner bell. The operator of
down
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
84
the railway departed.
Dahl and
I
went
to
work with cans of
sol
buckets of water, and cleaning
vent, boat soap, plastic sponges,
fast and furious job. Nevertheless, an hour later,
rags. It was a
when
the railway operator returned
from
his dinner,
Transco II
was a clean boat inside and out, from the keel to the
tip of
her
radiotelephone aerial.
From the downstream end of the Swift Rapids Marine Railway
tied up to remain
it was an easy run to Severn Falls, where we
aboard overnight in one of the most delightful spots on the entire
Trent Waterway System. It
(he rocks
and
is
a lovely
a bend in the
forest at
little
village set
down
river, like the Spotless
in
Town
A
delegation of local citizens showed us the
heads ashore and politely asked us to seal our bilges. The clear,
of the fairy tales.
water.
sparkling Severn is their drinking
At Severn Falls there used to be a small waterfall
of rapids that spilled
many
When
a canoe.
and a
the Trent
stretch
Waterway
and rapids were drowned with completion of
the Big Chute Dam at Big Chute, 8 miles downstream from the
was
built, the falls
Dam.
The marine railway
Swift Rapids
at Big Chute
Swift Rapids. Transco II, Dahl,
is
very similar to the one at
and I got over
this
hump and
down into an arm of Six-Mile Lake without the slightest difficulty.
From Six-Mile Lake the Severn River wiggles through a narrow,
rocky canyon with a current swift enough to create small breakers.
Then it bursts suddenly out into Ontario s famous, scenic Glouces
a veritable fairyland of natural beauty. Here are small,
rocky, pine-forested islands set down in waters under a sky that
is more often than not the color of indigo. Here are jutting head
ter Pool,
lands of chocolate-colored rock and emerald-green forests. Here
the bright summer sun comfortably warms the pure, pine-scented
is any other spot of earth in any way comparable to
Gloucester Pool, the only one I know is an arm of Lake
Lucerne in the vicinity of Alpnachstad, Switzerland.
air. If
there
Ontario
At
s
Port Severn Transco II locked
down through Lock No. 43
accompanied by almost enough big and
little
Canadian pleasure
PETERBOROUGH
boats to
way
make a
locks for us.
LAKE HURON
85
lock load. This was the last of the Trent Water
We
came out of
it
onto the waters of Georgian
we d be on the
Bay, a part of Lake Huron. From there to Chicago
same water level, 578 Vz feet above sea level.
Coming out
the
first
of the Trent
Waterway at the Lake Huron end,
on the Midland Bay side of
part of the run to Midland
the Penetanguishene Peninsula is a buoy-marked channel through
a mystic maze of bare, brown rocks. The last leg of the journey
consists of about
10 miles of wide-open Georgian Bay that Transco
II crossed in near-perfect weather.
Arriving at Midland near noon on Saturday, June 20, we had
little difficulty in finding Bev s Marina. Dahl and I were promptly
taken in tow by Mr. Beverly Keefe, owner and operator of the
marina, which had been just barely completed in time for the 1959
boating season.
After lunch in a restaurant ashore, we spent most of the after
noon with the newspaper reporters and photographers and the
radio and television representatives.
Saturday evening Mr. Keefe took us in his car some 60 miles
around the southern end of Georgian Bay to Honey Harbour and
the famous Honey Harbour Hotel. There we were the guests of
the Canadian
Power Squadrons
for a delightful evening of dining,
dancing, and entertainment.
Coming south through Georgian
and
I
had stopped overnight
at the
Bay in 1925, Frank Wilton
Honey Harbour Hotel. Re
it again in 1959, I was delighted to find it exactly as
was thirty-four years ago; same management, same good food,
and same charming Canadian hospitality. The atmosphere of the
place is that of being an invited guest among friends in a palatial
private home, something so thoroughly enjoyable that it makes
one wonder why all hotels do not create this same kind of atmos
turning to
it
phere.
We
out of
decided to spend the whole weekend in Midland. Coming
St.
Church on Sunday morning, I was pleasantly
be recognized and greeted by some of the Canadians
Margaret
surprised to
s
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
86
I
had met the previous evening
at the
Canadian Power Squadrons
these new-found friends and
party. I felt quite at home with
a nearby Chinese restaurant.
in
breakfast
for
them
of
table
a
joined
There are several good restaurants in Midland, all of them
Canada there is usually a Chinese restaurant
in every little town and several of them in a city the size of Mid
land. Moreover, the Chinese people who operate the restaurants
Chinese. Throughout
are usually oriental only in physical appearance. Practically all
of them are naturalized Canadian citizens, or native-born Cana,dians
whose ancestors came
into the country
one or more genera
tions ago.
In Canada one also sees an occasional Negro who conducts his
life like any other Canadian. Canada took in thousands of
runaway slaves who escaped to freedom via the Underground
own
Railroad before the Civil War. Throughout Canada, too, fullblooded Indians or Canadians who are part Indian are about as
numerous as they are hi Oklahoma or California. Thus, in our
neighbor to the north,
and
friendship.
many
races live together in peace, harmony,
fROM MIDLAND,
ONTARIO,
TO MANITOULIN ISLAND
Having skippered the original Transco through
the Great Lakes in 1925, experience told me just about what
Transco II could do, or could not do, in attempting to travel ap
proximately 750 miles on these notoriously dangerous fresh-water
oceans. There are some definite limitations on what any small boat
can do hi the Great Lakes. The experienced boatman knows his
boat and the bounds of its capabilities. It is possible for him to
travel the Great Lakes without taking any risks greater than the
normal hazards of all boating. The neophyte boatman, on the
other hand, will undoubtedly live longer by keeping off the Great
until he has gained considerable experience in smaller and
treacherous waters. Even boatmen thoroughly experienced in
other waters can get themselves into deadly peril very quickly if
they go blundering into the Great Lakes unprepared for the sur
Lakes
less
prises the great waters are capable of hurling.
If the Great Lakes are as dangerous as their reputation portrays
them,
how
tinent ever
did the Indians and the men who explored our con
to travel all over them in canoes? Well, they
manage
87
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
88
traveled only
when
the weather
shore lines and headed
was favorable. They followed the
warning of bad
for land with the first
weather. Their canoes could be dragged ashore almost anywhere.
The travelers could make camp and wait until the weather made
canoe travel possible again. In this way, a canoe is one of the best
small craft for getting around on the Great Lakes without taking
any
risks greater
than the normal hazards of canoeing.
I took the original Transco through the Great
Chicago to the Georgian Bay end of the Trent Water
Long before
Lakes from
way, I was well aware that the lakes are often swept by storms
no small boat can live. Indeed, it is nothing unusual for
in which
the lakes to experience weather that sends the largest ships scurry
ing into the nearest ports or protected anchorages.
Of
t be dragged ashore
to travel the
however,
possible,
Great Lakes with any reasonably seaworthy small boat quite
safely by recognizing all foreseeable hazards and then using all
course, boats such as both Transcos
to escape fouling weather. It
one
s
mental resources to avoid them.
made
can
is
As
skipper of the two
through the Great Lakes for a total distance
of about 1,500 miles without getting into any very serious trouble.
I did this only by accepting the fewest possible number of wellTranscos I
it
calculated risks.
On
both cruises I followed the shore lines as nearly as possible
and always studied the charts to keep a port or sheltered anchor
age handy if needed. On both trips bad weather chased us off the
lakes several times; sometimes we were kept on land for
days.
We
also apparently avoided a lot of trouble,
delays, and potential
dangers by keeping in touch with the Coast Guard stations as
much
as possible and getting weather forecasts
practically every
hour by radio.
It is true that on the 1925 cruise Frank Wilton and I crossed
half
Lake Michigan on a diagonal course of 120 miles from Milwaukee
to Manistee, Michigan. We did that,
however, by shoving off from
Milwaukee at 4 o clock in the morning after having spent the
night
with Captain Bill Kincaid at the Milwaukee Coast
Guard
station.
MIDLAND
MANITOULIN ISLAND
89
The weather forecasts told us Lake Michigan would be flat
day; there wasn t any kind of bad weather brewing in any
that
part
of the entire Great Lakes area. Moreover, there was so much com
mercial shipping on Lake Michigan that day that we had one or
more
ships in sight practically
all
the way across.
To make
the run from Midland, Ontario, northwest through
the wide-open southern arm of Georgian Bay to Honey Harbour,
We didn t have
was a strong wind howling out
of the Northwest. Georgian Bay was a fresh-water ocean of whitecaps, and the small-craft warning signal was flying on the Midland
waterfront. The prudent course was to remain in port.
The following day dawned with the kind of weather we had
hoped for. The wind had died to a gentle breeze, and the smallcraft warning signal had been hauled down. We shoved off and
sped northward through nearly flat water in the lee of the Penetanguishene Peninsula. Beyond the tip of the peninsula we had
a few miles of uncomfortably choppy water, but we soon got out
Transco II would have to have favorable weather.
on Monday, June 22,
it
of
to
it
by coming
for there
into the lee side of Beausoleil Island.
Honey Harbour and on
into Parry
From
there
Sound we could almost
We
would be running through the beautiful
ignore the weather.
Island
Thousand
region of Georgian Bay, and there is
Thirty
relatively little
open water through
this veritable
wonderland of
islands.
In 1924-1925,
I studied
d ever
when
I
was planning the
first
Transco voyage,
a large-scale chart of Georgian Bay and wondered
how
my way through the Thirty Thousand Islands! Here
is a labyrinth of islands scattered over an area of several hundred
square miles. The islands are so numerous they look as if they d
I
find
been put on the chart with a pepper shaker. There are islands of
all shapes and sizes. They range from mere snags of rock to islands
of a hundred square miles or more. The question of finding our
way through this maze of rocks and pine-forested islands van
ished
when
I learned that the Canadian
Government had estab
lished well-marked navigation channels through all important parts
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
90
of the archipelago shortly after the turn of the century. Today,
any boatman who can read a chart and follow a veritable fence
among the Thirty Thousand Islands knowing
on the chart at all times.
In 1925, when Frank Wilton and I came southward through
the Thirty Thousand Islands, there was hardly any human habita
tion on the islands. Nearly all of them were as they must have
been when first sighted by the earliest French explorers. At that
time, almost any island in the group could have been bought for
of buoys
may
travel
exactly where he
a few
is
dollars.
Today, hundreds of these same islands are studded with the
palatial homes of wealthy Canadians and Americans. For $10,000,
one may buy an island consisting of a few acres of rocks and
trees
if
there are any
people
up
for sale.
For $100,000
it is still
possible
buy an island several square miles in area. The
occasionally to
who now own
these islands, big or small, often spent
$50,000 or more to build beautiful, modern summer homes on
On many
their property.
senting large investments
of the islands there are estates repre
for a recreational retreat that is usable
only two or three months each year! About nine months of each
year, most of the islands revert to their original states and become
uninhabited wildernesses of
ice,
snow, and subzero cold.
As Transco II sped through the narrow channels between islands
of the Thirty
Thousand Island group, Dahl and I sighted nu
merous boats, most of them
the
by
seemed
summer
to
fairly large craft
apparently
owned
them
residents of various islands. Nearly all of
be heavily loaded, hulls down to the Plimsoll
lines,
with
deck cargoes of crates, boxes, bags, and barrels. It was the last
week in June, and people were moving in. The family with a
summer home on an
island among Ontario s Thirty Thousand
must have a boat. Without a suitable boat, which is often
a luxury model housed in a boathouse alongside a small
seaplane,
Islands
this type
of insular
summer
would be impossible. The
development of two-way radiotelephone communication has also
residence
MIDLAND
MANITOULIN ISLAND
91
played a very important part in popularizing the Ttibrty Thousand
Islands as a summer playground.
Arriving at Parry Sound late in the afternoon, John Dahl and
I took Transco II into the
mouth
of the river and tied
up below
almost at the exact spot where Transco had
stopped overnight thirty-four years earlier. This time the differ
ence was that I took Transco 11 into a modem marina operated
the railway bridge
by Mr. Richard Holmes. He was there to greet us, along with his
family and the newspaper reporters and photographers.
Mr. Holmes happened to be within earshot as Dahl and I dis
we should remain aboard Transco 11 that night or
He immediately spoke: "Gentlemen, Mrs. Holmes
cussed whether
go to a hotel.
and I have other plans for you and hope you ll accept them. We
have made preparations to have you as guests in our home."
Such Canadian
invitation
on
was irresistible. We accepted the
the Holmes s home, which is located
hospitality
and soon
left for
Sound waterfront alongside the marina.
After a good home-cooked dinner that was a joy to both Dahl
and me, we were standing in the twilight on a dock in the Holmes
Marina looking at a tall, steel observation tower maintained by
the Canadian Forest Service atop a nearby hill. Speaking to Mr.
Holmes I said,
imagine there must be a wonderful view from
the Parry
"I
the top of that tower over
there."
there?" he asked.
you
would indeed! All of us went to the top of the hill
Holmes s car. The tower was about 100 feet high, and
"Would
like to
go up
We
quite a climb to the top
up a zigzag stairway of
steel.
in
it
Mr.
was
The mag
panoramic view from the top was well worth the effort
of climbing the stairs. To the east was a vista of hundreds of
nificent
square miles of the rolling, forested hills of the Ontario mainland.
The small city that is Parry Sound spread out like a map to the
north. To the west we gained a far better idea of what the Thirty
Thousand Islands would look
so
many wooded
like
from an
islands interspersed
aircraft.
There were
by shimmering expanses of
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
92
water that any attempt to count the islands would have been like
trying to count stars.
In the Holmes
s
living
around the television
that evening we all gathered
view a Transco II broadcast from
room
set to
CKVR in Barrie, Ontario. The previous day s delay by the weather
Midland had made that broadcast possible. Ken Robertson
from CKVR had come the 40 miles from Barrie to Bev s Marina,
in
where he recorded the broadcast on film and sound tape.
When we left Parry Sound the next day, Transco II, John Dahl,
and I had some miles to go before running out of the Thirty
Thousand Islands into the waters of Lake Huron. By great good
luck the weather was kind to us; the lake was fairly flat and the
visibility
unlimited until
we
arrived within about
10 miles
off
Byng Inlet Here we were almost out of sight of land when Lake
Huron decided to give us a sample of what it can do in even a
very small wind. The wind rose to about 20 miles per hour, and in
a few minutes we had all the seas we had any business to be out
in. Whitecaps were all around us, and Transco II was
bumping
rather uncomfortably when a ship coming out of Byng Inlet showed
us to a row of buoys marking the channel into the quiet, sheltered
waters that extend some 10 miles inland into an ancient
glacial
gorge.
For days before we arrived in Byng
beautiful, thriving place it
talking about
what I had seen of
we
had been
was. Of course,
Inlet, I
John what a
telling
I
was
in 1925.
Consequently, when
arrived there late in the afternoon of June
23, 1959, he proba
it
bly thought I was the most infernal liar who had ever lived.
I had suggested landing at the dock of a
paper mill where
Frank Wilton and I had tied up. When we
got there, however,
there was no paper mill and no dock
only a mass of rotted
piling
and in back of it a ghost town.
What s happened here
in the last thirty-four
years, I
from the few Canadians who
I soon heard the sad
story
Byng Inlet their home.
The big lumber mill had gone out
mused?
still call
of business because
they
had
MIDLAND
MANITOULIN ISLAND
down
93
the forest that could be turned into lumber. The
went
out of business because the flow of pulp logs
paper
ceased. The fisheries went out of business when over-fishing and
cut
all
mill
eels turned once-productive
fishing grounds into watery
Because there were no jobs and no payrolls, Byng Inlet s
people moved away to find economic sustenance elsewhere. They
left behind a ghost town of abandoned houses and crumbling in
lamprey
deserts.
dustrial plants reminiscent of a mining
the borrascal
We
know
all
camp
in the
West
after
the term bonanza, a Spanish word we ve taken into
strike of gold or other valuable
our language that means a rich
mineral.
Why
the economic
word
borrasca, the Spanish noun for
collapse that usually comes in the wake of a bonanza!
not, then, the
now
in the borrasca. It has practically nothing to
than a small, seasonal business in the service
trades catering to summer visitors. June, July, and August; then
that scanty business is finished until next year. Nine months of
Byng
keep
it
Inlet is
alive other
snow, ice, and subzero temperatures follow the summer, and the
people of Byng Inlet somehow get through year after year with
out any income.
After spending the night tied up alongside a coal dock about
go out of business in Byng Inlet, I became acquainted with
the town s last remaining general storekeeper, a Canadian citizen
to
about
my
age
who
is
a native of Germany.
As soon
as I heard his
accent I spoke to him in German. He was obviously delighted to
find a native-born American of Scottish and French ancestry who
spoke German with
I learned
at least
much from
something resembling native fluency.
this fellow
while loafing around his shop
waiting for the howling winds to die down.
John Dahl and I attempted to run out of
ing,
but turned around and came back after
Byng Inlet that morn
we found Lake Huron
running mountainous whitecaps. We returned to the coal dock and
tied up. The Canadian Coast Guard advised us to stay in port,
so
we could do
nothing but wait.
Next morning the weather was perfect. Dahl and I had agreed
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
94
to Little Current
upon a plan to run straight across Lake Huron
on Manitoulin Island, an island of near-continental proportions
in the northern end of Lake Huron. We were soon out of sight
of land on a compass course with a beam signal coming in clear
and strong on the radio direction finder. Little chance for getting
on this fresh-water ocean!
About midafternoon we sighted the eastern end of Manitoulin
and tied up at a
Island, sped through the Straits of Kilarney,
ourselves lost out here
we were greeted by Mr. W. J.
public dock in Little Current. There
Little Current s newspaper,
of
and
editor
the
publisher
Patterson,
the very gentleman I had
was
Here
Current
Little
the
Expositor.
long hoped to meet, because he is at once a delightful personality
and a prolific source of information about Manitoulin Island and
the whole of Canada.
Manitoulin Island
the world
is
s
largest island in fresh water.
is approximately the same as New York s Long
but
Island,
any similarity between the two islands ends right there.
Manitoulin Island is about 80 miles long. Its width varies from
Its
land area
5 miles at
its
narrowest point to 50 miles at its widest. Its shore
a profile map of the Swiss Alps. It had dozens
line is as irregular as
of big and
little
mostly
and
souls of
rolling, forested hills
sizes scattered
work of
and bays
lands
are
gnarled
with hundreds of lakes of assorted
peninsulas, sounds, straits, isthmuses,
to delight the eyes
boatmen.
Its
around the landscape. The island now has a net
hundred miles of good roads connected to the
several
highways of the Ontario mainland by a series of bridges over the
narrow straits to the north. All the waters in and around Mani
toulin Island
of
teem with
game known
fish,
and
its
forests
abound with every kind
to the vast wilderness areas of Ontario,
that Manitoulin Island is a sportsman s paradise is
To
say
an understate
ment.
In
fine fishing waters
Dahl and
I
such as those of Manitoulin Island John
heard the question that was asked of us
across the continent:
"How
much fishing do you
do?"
all
the
way
MIDLAND
MANITOULIN ISLAND
The answer was always: "None!" There was not so
fishhook aboard Transco 11 for two reasons.
95
much
as
a
In 1925, Frank Wilton and I had carried fishing tackle. We
we had the chance which was most of the
time and we made some of our best catches by trolling. More
over, we ate all the fish we caught. We camped ashore nearly
fished every time
every night that we were away from cities, and the fish we caught
were a substantial contribution to our food supply.
On the Transco 11 cruise, however, I found conditions so differ
ent that fishing was ruled out. Some villain had invented a taxcollecting device known as an angler s license. Dahl and I would
have liked to fish, but we couldn t have done it legally without
buying a total of thirty-eight nonresident fishing licenses, two in
each of seventeen American states and two provinces of Canada.
It would have taken hours of shopping to buy all those licenses,
and the total cost would have been about $300.
Our second big discouragement against fishing was that we just
couldn t take the time. With the mileage we had to make from
day to day, any serious fishing would have meant adding about
two weeks to the time and expense element of our cruise. More
over, Transco IPs cruising speed was much too fast for successful
trolling, even if the license matter had not already thrown cold
water on the fishing.
10
fROM MAMTOUUN ISLAM*
TO Sr. IONA&, MICHIGAN
Little Current gets its name from the fact that
current, sometimes flowing as fast as 6 miles per
hour, through the narrow strait to the north that separates Manitoulin Island from the Ontario mainland. Sometimes the current
there
is
a
little
flows east. Sometimes
at
it
flows west. Sometimes there
is
no current
all.
What
causes this?
No
one knows with any real
scientific cer
could be caused by any one of several known forces or
constantly varying combinations of these forces. At various points
tainty. It
the Great Lakes have been
known
to
have measurable
tides.
The
lakes are also big enough for the wind to push a lot of water in
either direction through a narrowing of the land such as the Strait
of Little Current. Then, too, the Great Lakes are fed by hundreds
of big and little rivers that carry a constantly varying volume of
Only one river flows out of the Great Lakes, the mighty
Lawrence just about the most predictable river on earth. Its
water.
St.
average flow
96
is
246,000 cubic
feet per second.
MANITOULIN
ST.
IGNACE
97
On Thursday,
June 25, Transco II headed westward through the
North Channel from Little Current. Dahl and I were lucky enough
to
have the current with
speed for the
first
few
added a couple of knots to our
or
until the current was dissipated
miles,
us. It
in the vast fresh-water sea that lies between the western part of
Manitoulin Island and the Ontario mainland. That day the weather
also favored us until about noon, when the sky became cloudy
and we were speeding westward through a gentle rain.
The gentle rain, however, gradually became what Oregonians
call
duck drownder." Visibility went from about 20 miles
"a
a scant 2 miles. The water surface, after having been slightly
choppy, was quickly flattened under the pelting rain. With the
to
cockpit canopy and side curtains up, Dahl and I
had no problem
had head-to-foot waterproof
we needed it Our major problem was a two-man job
in keeping ourselves dry.
clothing
if
We
also
of navigation.
Running at reduced speed because of the limited visibility soon
became decidedly monotonous. At times the rain came down so
hard that the windshield wipers couldn t carry it off fast enough.
We could see nothing but a relatively small circle of rain-lashed
water around the boat and a slate-gray sky overhead. The falling
rain as seen through the windshield presented a somewhat dis
torted picture.
After about two hours of this near-blind cruising, Dahl and I
decided to go on westward as nearly as possible in the middle of
the North Channel. That would keep us off the land, with at least
10 miles of water on both sides and a world of water ahead of our
We would keep on going west until we could find a line
north and south through Blind River, a lake port on the north
shore of the North Channel and the mainland of Ontario.
bow.
was quite simple to find that imaginary line. The radio sig
coming in clear and strong from several directions. We
began picking up one from the Canadian Soo, corrected our course
It
nals were
to slightly north of west,
and kept going. About 3 o clock in the
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
98
the signal from Blind River, put the direc
found we were due south of it. We
and
it,
changed course to due north and followed the signal.
I estimated that we d sight land after 10 miles at 15 miles an
hour, and have 5 more miles on the northbound course at 10
miles an hour. These calculations turned out to be completely
afternoon I picked
tion finder
accurate.
up
on
Almost on the anticipated
tick of the
chronometer we
of the line of buoys that marked the navigation
sighted the
channel into Blind River s breakwater-protected harbor.
played
safe by moving very slowly, following the line of buoys exactly.
first
We
A few minutes
the
murky
later the
town
itself
became dimly
visible
through
rain.
This bit of near-blind navigation over a distance of approxi
mately 75 miles was a happy morale-builder for us. It convinced
me
that with Transco IPs superb navigational equipment we could
go anywhere on the Great Lakes under conditions of bad visibility
and be able to come up on any given point with accuracy. It
abolished practically every fear I ve ever had of the Great Lakes
except the very real danger of getting caught far from land in high
winds and seas lashed to a fury in which no small boat can live.
In these cold northern waters Transco II, John Dahl, and I
we left the Hudson River until we
went out of Lake Michigan at Chicago. Over that entire route
we were traveling on water that had been ice only a few weeks
earlier. The summer sun had been able to warm it
by only a few
degrees. At many points I put a thermometer into the water and
found temperatures that ranged from a minimum of 38 degrees
faced a hazard from the time
Byng Inlet to a maximum of 52 degrees at Milwaukee.
In water at those low temperatures even the best swimmer isn t
going to last very long. Rescue from the icy waters far offshore
at
would have to come very quickly to be effective. Any protracted
immersion in such waters would undoubtedly lead to the fate of
the Royal Canadian constables who had
perished in Lake Simcoe
some days before John Dahl and I took Transco 11 across it in
favorable weather. Those strong, healthy, athletic
young men didn t
MANITOULIN
ST.
IGNACE
99
drown; they were suffocated by the waves or died when chilled
blood could no longer support life. Their life jackets only helped
their relatives to recover the bodies.
My
old Transco had several air chambers that actually kept
who built her, and
Los Angeles Harbor in preparation for the
transcontinental voyage. And the test was completely successful.
Transco II also had a big fiber-glass air chamber below decks
that was supposed to keep her afloat if she capsized or was
swamped. I never saw that claim demonstrated. I ve seen too many
her afloat with open sea cocks. Emil Aarup,
I
made
this test in
naval ships, holed through by gunfire or blasted with bombs, that
"watertight compartments" did not
were sunk in minutes. Their
save them. In
tion:
that
"There
is
The
my own years with the Navy I
s
no such
also the safest assumption for all
little
fact that
Canadian
accepted the admoni
thing as an unsinkable
city of Blind
ship."
River takes
its
has a river with an invisible mouth.
it
Obviously,
motorboatmen.
name from
It is
the
one of the
few spots on earth where geography in the making placed a nat
ural dam of rock right across the mouth of a river. It all happened
in some prehistoric glacial age. The river, of course, had to find
some other route into Lake Huron around this barrier. Conse
quently,
it
spilled over
a
little
marshland, thus creating a
the marsh vegetation.
farther upstream into
a
large,
low
new mouth completely concealed by
Canadians knew what to do when they found this unique situa
They built a spillway and control dam, raised the water
level, and put a hydroelectric plant on top of the natural rock dam.
tion.
power now turns the wheels of Blind River s major
industries, the lumber and paper mills, as it did when I stopped
there in 1925 to pick up mail, gasoline, and groceries. Today,
Blind River looks very much as I saw it then, except for new and
better paved streets, more and better motor service stations, and
quite a number of new buildings, including a couple of modern
motels. The town now has quite a prosperous summer-tourist
business that was practically nonexistent thirty-four years ago.
The
electric
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
100
In Blind River we had the
E. A.
finest
kind of cooperation from Mr.
Bebee, the local outboard dealer.
He
checked and tuned
our motors, supplied some needed tools, replaced a few parts that
were getting worse for wear, and repaired a gasoline line that had
begun to leak about a teaspoon of gas every twenty-four hours.
also went over the entire boat, adjusting all controls,
fixing a
He
troublesome leak under the windshield, and checking everything
that might become a source of trouble. By the time we were
ready
to leave Blind River, we had a boat that was in even better con
dition than
it
College Point,
On
was when we
Long
left
Emil Mayer
s
Boat Works
at
Island.
Saturady, June 27, the weather
seemed to have settled down
a steady, gentle rain with almost no wind. The visibility wasn t
very good. The day promised to be one of flat water on Lake
Huron, however, so Dahl and I decided to make Blind River our
last port of call in Canada. We planned to
go westward through the
to
until we sighted St. Joseph Island. We d be out of
most of the way. After spotting St. Joseph Island, we d
run between it and Drummond Island and into the St.
Mary s
River. Then, we would go down the river to re-enter the United
North Channel
sight of land
States at
DeTour, Michigan.
This plan worked out pretty well while it lasted, but that wasn t
very long. After leaving Blind River we sped westward through
the North Channel for 30 miles. We were 10 miles off the Ontario
mainland and much farther away from
St. Joseph Island, with
wind began to blow the rain clouds
away. A first sudden blast was followed by a steadily rising wind.
The North Channel was soon a sea of
whitecaps. I quickly con
no land
in sight,
when
the
tacted Rogers City, Michigan, and received the bad news. The
wind was rising all over the northern Great Lakes
area, and winds
of 35 miles per hour were expected. Small-craft
warning signals
were already flying at the Soo!
Dahl and
we d better not try to run to DeTour.
our
course
from
west to north; we would
changed
go back
into Canada, to the port of
Thessalon, and wait for better weather
We
I quickly decided
MANITOULIN
ST.
IGNACE
101
and concrete. The wisdom
We were riding in furious seas,
and Transco II had about 20 gallons of water aboard ahead of
behind a protecting breakwater of
of this decision was soon obvious.
the bilge pumps by the time
at Thessalon.
There are no marina
steel
we came
facilities at
in behind the breakwater
Thessalon; the town
itself is
about half a mile from the waterfront. Fortunately, we got around
the problem of finding fuel quite easily. In an icy wind accom
panied by showers that included a deluge of small hailstones, I
trudged into the town and found a gas-station operator who agreed
to service Transco II with a tank truck
water.
The
boisterous water continued
from the top of the break
day, and because of the
all
remoteness of the town from the waterfront, Dahl and I decided
to remain aboard. Sunday was another bad day, so we stayed put.
Monday morning came and with it the hoped-for lull in the
weather that usually comes after a storm. It was a balmy day, with
just a few clouds and no wind. Dahl and I got under way while
the North Channel looked as
flat
as
an Iowa farm, from the
Thessalon breakwater out to the very limits of the horizon.
We
sped across
this vast
expanse of shimmering water, and
St.
Joseph Island and Drummond Island began to rise out of Lake
were also exactly on course to find
Huron after the first hour.
We
the line of buoys marking the ship channel through the strait that
separates those
Drummond
two big
islands.
approximately 400 square miles of rolling
part of the state of Michigan, it was our first
major glimpse of American soil since Transco II cleared into
Canada at Rouse s Point, New York. St. Joseph Island to the north
hills
and
Island
forest.
is
A
about 400 square miles of the same kind of country as
Drummond. It is a part of the province of Ontario.
is
also
the strait between St. Joseph and Drummond
was in the St. Mary s River, a mighty stream
II
Transco
Islands,
that is only about 100 miles in length. What it lacks in length,
Once through
made up
by volume. It carries the entire overflow
from Lake Superior into Lake Huron. And the overflow from Lake
however,
is
for
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
102
fresh-water lake, is enormous. If we
Superior, the world s largest
had that water in California, it would be enough to irrigate more
miles of a semi-arid state where a water well
than
100,000 square
more valuable than an oil well.
Transco II was well into St. Mary s River when a
often
is
strong, chilly
wind began blowing out of the Northwest. The river was soon
we might have
running whitecaps, putting an end to any thought
had of cruising beyond DeTour, Michigan, that day. Moreover,
after the river had given us quite a beating, we tied up behind the
breakwater at DeTour to find the small-craft warning signal flying
at the
U.
S.
Coast Guard Station.
my
At DeTour,
first
duty was to report the arrival of Transco
and ourselves to the U. S. Customs and Immigration Service
officials. What a casual way they have of asking that this be done!
I could find no Federal officers anywhere around the waterfront.
II
found a sign suggesting that all boat skippers entering
the United States from Canada should call a given telephone
number. I found a public telephone and made the call.
Finally, I
"We ll
send a
man
to the
dock
to inspect
voice on the other end of the line. It
you,"
said the male
was then about 2 o clock
in
the afternoon.
About 6 o clock that evening a uniformed officer sauntered out
onto the dock and identified himself. He seemed to be more inter
ested in the nature of our trip than in anything else.
We
had a
friendly discussion for about twenty minutes.
Eventually
I
d received
I
at
got around to handing
Rouse
s Point,
New
him the clearance papers
York.
He
glanced at them,
put the papers in his pocket, and "inspected" our boat
at it from the dock. It was by far the most simplified
trusive
by looking
and unob
customs and immigration inspection I ve ever experienced
come back into the United States
in all the scores of times I ve
from trips to other nations.
The northwest end of Lake Huron from DeTour into the
Sttaits of Mackinac at St. Ignace, Michigan, is a notoriously wind
swept area of the Great Lakes. These waters seem to have an
MANITOULIN
ST.
IGNACE
103
almost chronic antipathy toward water craft of all sizes. They ve
swallowed many a small craft and occasionally they bag a fullfledged ship out of the constant parade of iron-ore boats and
other commercial shipping that moves in both directions during
the seasons of Great Lakes navigation. The skipper of any small
boat will take a lot of punishment and risk his life if he attempts
to cruise these waters without understanding and respecting the
fury with which they can deal with him in bad weather.
With Transco in 1925, Frank Wilton and I avoided the Straits
Mackinac altogether by coming up the east side of Lake Michi
gan from Manistee to Petoskey. From Petoskey we went through
of
of Michigan s South Peninsula to Lake
Huron at Cheboygan. From Cheboygan we ran to Mackinac Is
land, where we were mastheaded by bad weather for three days
the Inland
Waterway
we could get on to DeTour. At DeTour, Transco II John
and
I faced that same familiar and infamous 30 miles of
Dahl,
Lake Huron. We waited three days for favorable weather. Mean
while, the wind continued to blow at 30 to 35 miles per hour,
and the small-craft warning signal remained on the flagpole at
before
>
DeTour Station of the U. S. Coast Guard.
At long last the wind died about as suddenly as it had caught
us on the St. Mary s River. The small-craft warning signal was
hauled down, and the Coast Guard officers advised us to get along
to St. Ignace while we could be sure of having at least a few hours
of windless weather. It was then nearly noon. Transco 11 was soon
under way again over a placid and docile Lake Huron bearing
the
not the slightest resemblance to the furious sea
an hour
it
had been only
earlier.
Rounding DeTour Reef Lighthouse, which marks a rocky shoal
far out in Lake Huron from the mouth of St. Mary s River,
Transco II was soon on a compass course a few degrees south
of west. The low hills on the North Peninsula of Michigan were
dimly visible until we came abeam of Les Cheneaux Islands, but
in every other direction the scenery was sky and water. About
an hour after leaving DeTour, however, Bois Blanc Island, Round
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
104
and Mackinac Island began to creep out of the water far
to the west. Then, as we headed for the narrow passage between
Round Island and Mackinac Island, I sighted what looked like
two fragments of a toothpick standing perpendicularly above the
water. A look with field glasses revealed that these objects were
what I thought they might be, the piers of the world s largest and
longest suspension bridge, spanning the Straits of Mackinac to
Island,
the west of St. Ignace.
There was no bridge across the Straits of Mackinac when the
Transco visited these waters thirty-four years ahead of Transco
first
IL Construction of the present $100 million structure was started
May, 1954. It was opened to vehicular traffic hi November,
1957, and the formal dedication was in June, 1958.
With the best weather imaginable and unmistakable landmarks
directing us, the remainder of Transco // s run into St. Ignace was
as delightful a bit of boating as I ever hope to enjoy. The run
past Mackinac Island alone was an excursion through scenic
beauty that might have been lifted from the canvases of Maxfield
in
Parrish!
John Dahl and I stepped ashore in a small marina a stone s
throw from the central business district of St. Ignace. We were
given a rousing welcome by Mayor Raymond France, newsmen,
photographers, radio and television reporters, and so many citizens
of the
community
that the old
wooden dock creaked and wobbled
under their weight.
We didn t know it
at the time, but we were due to be detained
hi St. Ignace by bad weather for a week. That week cannot be
considered as having been lost. Actually, I d like nothing better
than to spend the remainder of
life in the midst of similar
my
hospitality
and happiness!
11
fROM ST. IONACE
TO ST. IGNACE
Every American old enough
to
have memories
in these United States half a century or more ago may
recall the old-fashioned kind of Fourth of July celebrations we
of
life
had in those days. The Fourth was a day of general hell-raising
and noise-making such as no man had ever seen or heard since
the days of the Crusades!
For weeks in advance of our national birthday, the major pre
occupation of adults and children alike was collecting giant fire
crackers, gunpowder, dynamite, big and little guns, and every
land of fireworks ever invented in China; in fact, anything and
everything that could make a noise was pressed into service. The
bigger the noise, the better we liked it. It was a day when Ameri
cans seemed to go completely berserk. Cleaning up the mess and
counting the casualties came later. These wild, uninhibited annual
jamborees took an appalling toll in death, mayhem, and property
damage.
Thousands of Fourth of July celebrants died each year in their
own self-detonated explosions. They cremated themselves. They
105
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
106
amputated countless shattered
other parts of the body. Doctors treated
fingers, hands, feet, and
kind or another.
all sorts of wounds traceable to fireworks of one
blew out
their
own
eyes. Surgeons
about 1910, Fourth of July celebrations had become so
banning the posses
sion and sale of fireworks. Such laws proved to be enforceable,
and the old-fashioned Fourth of July practically passed out of
By
disastrous that state after state enacted laws
American scene.
At St. Ignace,
Apparently this was not so in Michigan in 1959.
as the first rays of daylight began to appear, I was awakened by
the
an explosion that shook the hotel and rattled the windows. Look
ing out the window, I saw two men placing something that looked
like a small bomb under a late-model car in the parking lot below.
One
men
of the
reached under the car with a lighted cigarette
devil himself were after them.
lighter; then the pair ran as if the
There was another tremendous explosion. The costly car in the
parking lot was still there, but it was blackened by the explosion,
its hood bent skyward like the mouth of a yawning hippopotamus.
Another shattering explosion shook the building. This was fol
lowed by another and another. St. Ignace was really booming. I
was witnessing an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration such as
I had not heard or seen in half a century.
The exploding bedlam of that day brought back to me the mem
ory of seeing my brother James pouring a train of black powder
from a brass powder flask our paternal grandfather had used when
he was a captain in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Brother Jimmy, three years
my
senior,
had poured the powder
train over the length of a 10-foot board. I
looked around
just
in time to see another
boy touch a stick of glowing punk to the
middle of the powder train. The only word I had time to cry out
It was too late.
was, "Don
t!"
At
was a roaring explosion and everything
eyes disappeared in a cloud of fire and smoke. At
that instant there
in front of
my
a distance of about 15 feet I
clothing and
eyelashes. I
saw
the awful heat that singed my
brother Jimmy hit the ground, feet
felt
IGNACE
ST.
ST.
107
IGNACE
skyward and clothing ablaze. Somehow
don t know
him. He was howling
to this
day
I
we tore the burning clothes off of
a banshee from the pain of first-degree burns over the entire
front of his blackened body, from thighs to forehead. His eyelids
how
like
were seared, but they had saved his eyes.
The doctor cleaned him up and bandaged him like a cocoon in
ribbons torn from bed sheets soaked with linseed oil and limewater. After many painful days he recovered; he was not even
seriously scarred.
The next day after the barrage was Sunday, and the weather
was hopelessly bad. It was no day for Transco II, John Dahl, and
me
to attempt to get through the Straits of Mackinac. Accordingly,
put on my rain togs and set out on foot for early-morning Mass
through a downpour of rain and gusts of wind. The wind was still
blowing after church, but the rain had stopped, so I decided to
I
wander around town a
grave of
As a
bit. It
was
in this
way
that I found the
Pre Marquette.
lifelong student of history, I
had read
early in
life
of the
accomplished in America by such Frenchmen as
Samuel Champlain, Jacques Cartier, Louis Joliet, Jacques Mar
explorations
La Salle, and others. And in
had
read
P&re
France, many
Marquette s autobiogra
phy, one of the most fascinating volumes I ve ever set hands and
quette (Pere Marquette), Robert de
years ago, I
eyes upon.
Jacques Marquette was born at Laon, France, in 1637. Edu
cated for the clergy, he became a Jesuit missionary and explorer
in America. He accompanied Joliet in his voyage down the Mis
sissippi
and back up the
Illinois
River in 1673.
He
died while
attempting to establish a mission among the THini Indians, from
the state of Illinois derives its name. By his own dying
whom
body was transported by canoe from the present site
of Chicago and buried in a churchyard in St. Ignace. The grave,
marked by a simple granite monument, has become one of the
request, his
most frequently
visited historic shrines in the state of Michigan.
At
paid
this shrine I
my
respects to Father Marquette
and
all his
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
108
countrymen who were the pathfinders of voyages
by both Transcos.
intrepid
like
those undertaken
One windy
to
day, after John
Dahl had decided
to take the ferry
Mackinac Island and bicycle around that beautiful
stood on a dock in
St.
Igance in conversation with
island, I
Mickey Duggan,
a free-lance photographer, and his wife Mary.
The time was late afternoon. Somehow the desultory conversa
tion got onto the subject of the edible qualities of various kinds
of
fish.
remarked that
I
eating fish
No
"In
my
than the Great Lakes
opinion, there never
was a
better
whitefish!"
sooner said than I received a hearty invitation to a home-
Duggans home.
prepared, grilled whitefish dinner at the
minutes
later,
we were
close to the shore
in
Mickey Duggan
almost dangerously close
rection of the Straits of
A
s boat, scooting
few
along
in the general di
Mackinac Bridge.
Knowing
Duggan home was in the forest looking out
Lake Michigan west of the St. Ignace end of the bridge
that the
into
we d have to go under the bridge to get
was wrong. Mickey sped among the rocks of what he
approach, I thought that
there. I
called his
"private
waterway."
He
kept up a steady pace of around 30 miles an hour. For a
couple of uneasy minutes I thought he was going to crash the
boat right into the rock wall of the
bridge approach, but as we
swung around a huge, forbidding rock-reef, I could see a culvert
spanning a narrow strip of water under the bridge approach.
Mickey headed for the hole. The boat roared through the culvert
little room to
spare. Another mile and there
the small marina that
Mickey and his
with
came
into view
boating neighbors have
created in a quiet
little
bay.
Before entering the marina he took the boat into the
strait al
m
most to the end of the bridge approach.
taking you out here,"
he said,
show you the route to my landing just in case
you
might need it some day." As we shall soon see, Mickey
Duggan
must have had some sort of premonition. His
in
"I
"to
thoughtfulness
ST.
IGNACE
showing
me
ST.
IGNACE
this route
109
turned out to be quite a stroke of good
fortune.
During the week-long sojourn of bad weather in St. Ignace,
John Dahl and I made three attempts on three different days to
take Transco 11 through the Straits of Mackinac. With strong
North winds and the small-craft warning signals flying at the U. S.
Coast Guard Station on Mackinac Island, it seemed reasonable
we could get through the straits, we would find
calmer water along the north shores of Lake Michigan. In prac
to believe that,
if
however, this plan was a failure.
Three times we managed to get under and several miles beyond
the Straits of Mackinac Bridge, only to be turned back by short,
tice,
fast
mountainous waves that threatened to
like a barrel, or take her
down by
the
roll
beam
Transco 11 over
ends. I
had hoped
to get pictures of the bridge, but found it impossible; there was
no way to keep a camera dry with tons of water flying overhead,
and a wet camera is a ruined camera. Even if the camera might
have been kept dry, there was no way to hold it still enough to
get a picture. Moreover, if I d ever let go of handholds on the
boat long enough to get a firm grip on the camera, Fd have been
overboard in that icy water or
a Mexican jumping bean.
rattling
around in the well deck
like
The mighty waves buried Transco
II over her cabin and wind
and sent gallons of water under heavy pressure gurgling
into the cabin around the Plexiglas windows that are watertight
under anything like normal cruising conditions. When I went into
shield
the cabin and attempted to dog the windows down tighter, I could
not do anything except hang on to any available handhold. Let
ting go would have meant getting slammed around in the cabin
from end to end, crashing into starboard and portside bulkheads,
the lower deck, and the overhead decks. Dahl collected as many
bruises as I did.
Did we
through
find Transco II unseaworthy?
many
Not
at
all.
She came
a sea that would have rolled or foundered a smaller
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
110
We
were simply face to face with the
or less well-designed craft.
that beset every small boat. When the Great
physical limitations
Lakes heave and churn, every small boat on them becomes little
more than a frail Lilliputian toy.
On the next day, Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain came through
the Straits of Mackinac. The weather in St. Martin s Bay was
Transco II out into the
good enough for John Dahl and me to take
of other boat
Hundreds
straits to see Her Majesty s yacht go by.
the same idea. The straits were dotted with small boats.
About the time the Queen s yacht was due to be sighted a peaTransco 11 crawled
soup fog closed in and nobody saw anything.
tied
and
in
St.
back to the marina
up again.
Ignace
In our fourth attempt to get on with the cruise we took an awful
men had
straits. That time we managed to get about 5 miles
Lake Michigan from the Straits of Mackinac Bridge. A
strong wind was blowing from the North, and we got some tem
porary relief from the fury of the lake by going around the south
side of St. Helen s Island. But the minute we got out of the lee
of the island the wind became stronger and the seas more furious.
Then and there Dahl and I agreed that any further attempt to
travel Lake Michigan in such weather would be foolhardy.
The fact that we turned around and headed back toward St.
beating in the
out into
Ignace without having Transco II pike-poled by her beam ends I
can attribute only to a superb job of boat handling by John Dahl.
I clung to my handholds and watched him in silence; I had no
suggestion for handling the boat any better than he was doing it.
to have an almost uncanny sense of timing and never
He seemed
missed a trick with steering wheel and throttles to keep Transco II
off the crests and hitting the passes between waves. Nevertheless,
I
m
sure he
was
as
much
was when we finally made
and with only about 50 gallons of
relieved as I
the turn without being rolled
water ahead of the bilge pumps.
Having made the turn we were
still literally just a breath away
from being tossed into the cold-boiling, mad seas. We moved
back toward the straits, yawing and tossing like a straw in the
ST.
IGNACE
ST.
IGNACE
111
wind. It became more obvious by the minute that the strait would
be our grave if we remained afloat to go under the Straits of
Mackinac Bridge. We had to get ashore somewhere fast even
if it meant swimming for it and seeing Transco II smashed to bits
on the rocks!
At that moment I thought of Mickey Duggan. We were saved!
Now, if I could remember the route Mickey had shown me through
the treacherous rocks to his little inlet, all would be well. I put
all my wits into trying to remember exactly how he had taken me
out just a few days before.
We were still half a mile offshore, worming our way in among
the rocks, when I sighted a group of people on the dock at the
marina. Through the field glasses, I could see Mickey Duggan
getting into his boat. He came whizzing out and was alongside
Transco II in a few minutes.
"Follow me!" Those were the only words we heard above the
roar of wind and waves. But what welcome words they were! With
a pilot boat to get us the rest of the way through the channel, our
ordeal with the lake would soon be ended. We couldn t have landed
among
finer friends!
After the four-hour beating, getting nowhere on a storm-tossed
Lake Michigan, Dahl and I were cold, tired, hungry, and counting
our bruises. Our friends, however, provided some delightful com
pensations.
Compared with the lake, the huge living room in the Duggan
home seemed like heaven on earth. Our
slowly re
turned as we sat before a blazing log fire, sipping Scotch and soda.
"land
We spent the rest of the afternoon right there.
legs"
12
fROM THE STRAITS Of MACKINAC
INTO MANISTIWC, MICHIGAN
The
gigantic
bridge
spanning
the
Straits
of
Mackinac is now the official boundary between Lake Huron and
Lake Michigan. The indefinite location of that boundary had
caused some confusion in previous years. Another point of con
fusion that has recently been eliminated from the straits area is
the pronunciation of Mackinac. Some said "Mackinac," while
others insisted that it was "Mackinaw." Recently, to the joy of the
citizens of
i-naw"
Mackinaw
was adopted.
City, the uniform pronunciation
one sees fit to spell the word
How
kremains
"Mac
optional.
After having been chased off Lake Michigan by the surging
John Dahl and I decided to stay in the small marina we had
found until the weather let us get going again. As soon as the
weather would permit, we planned to get under way on a course
almost due west over 60 miles of wide-open water to Manistique.
seas,
The following day dawned with the near-perfect weather we
had long hoped to see. Lake Michigan was fiat; the waves were
little more than surface ripples.
112
STRAITS OF MACKINAC
113
MANISTIQUE
Mickey Duggan and Captain Densmore took Mickey
s
boat and
led us out into the wide-open water. Even as we waved good-bye
to our friends, Transco II was eating up the miles at full cruising
speed. If that speed could be mtaintained, it would take us to.
Manistique, on the west side of the lake, and southward down the
entire length of the lake to Chicago in a few hours.
In cruising the Great Lakes with a small boat, however, any
attempt to travel on a time schedule is impossible. Schedules are
always liable to be knocked into a cocked hat by weather that is
unpredictable and tricky. Attempting to keep to a schedule may
on when
get a boatman into serious trouble by spurring
indicates
that
he
should
head
into
the nearest sheltered
prudence
Mm
port with all possible speed.
After the delay in St. Ignace, John Dahl and I made the mistake
of throwing caution to the winds and taking Transco II through
the Straits of Mackinac, with Manistique our intended destination
set a tight schedule for ourselves for no better
for the day.
We
reason than the fact that our friends in Milwaukee had planned a
big welcome for us upon our arrival there. We didn t want to dis
appoint them.
Everything went well for us as we went into scenery that be
came almost exclusively sky and water. It took a long time for the
Straits of Mackinac Bridge to disappear over the eastern horizon.
A
small island appeared off our port-side bow and was easily
Hog Island. Then, far off to the south and west, Gar
den Island, Beaver Island, and the Whiskey Islands came dimly
identified as
into view.
wind began to blow from the South
remain gentle very long. It steadily increased until
the lake was running whitecaps with waves that were getting bigger,
About
that time a gentle
west. It didn
faster,
t
to
be
rising storm.
the port? Our charts showed nothing within
30
and closer together by the minute.
It
was time for us
finding a port to get in out of a
But where was
miles that looked particularly promising. Anything
shelter from the wind and increasing fury of the seas would be
that might offer
acceptable.
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
114
be the Bay of Epoufette,
on
the North Peninsula of
a very small, seemingly protected bight
Michigan 20 miles to our north. We took two hours of punishment
The
best spot
battling the
on the
charts appeared to
waves before reaching the bay.
As we headed
bay it was clear that it was nothing Tike
be on the chart. It was so exposed to the
direction of the weather that it offered little more protection than
what
it
into the
appeared to
any other spot along a coast line of rocks. Then, to make a bad
we discovered that the bay was strewn with rock
situation worse,
which breakers were crashing. We were within 100 yards
and didn t know what to do!
Dahl tossed me a life jacket and I quickly tied it on with one
reefs over
of the rocky beach
hand while
stretch of
retaining a handhold with the other.
sand beach that might have been
all
of
50
We
sighted
a
feet in length.
Dahl was for beaching the boat.
"Not in a thousand
years!" I protested. "Let s get out of here
and back into deep water!"
"But what about the waves?" he asked.
"The waves be damned!
I can take the waves if you can. If
we can keep
afloat, we re going into Naubinway! That s
going to be at least four hours of hell for both of
take the deep water and the waves any time as a risk that s
40 miles and
us. I
ll
this
packet
it s
safer than crashing
Somehow, we
fette
Bay without
on the
beach."
got Transco II turned around and out of
hitting anything. I
Epou
prayed that our motors would
keep turning to get us away from the rocks and surf-battered
shores. The grace of God must have been with
us; the motors
never missed a beat even though they were about
half-submerged
each time we climbed out of a wave
trough.
To
avoid any more adventures with uncharted reefs we went
about 5 miles out into the seething lake. The water out there was
exactly as I expected to find
it
16-foot waves. Transco II could
them. At times she
waterborne by the
nothing but short,
fast, frothing,
do nothing but hog and sag
into
d be almost out of the water
amidships and
bow and stern. The next second she d be half
STRAITS OF MACKINAC
out of the water by the
be racing in thin
down a
air.
115
MANISTIQUE
bow and in
We
the stern her propellers would
both felt as if we were in a barrel rolling
rocky hill.
It took five hours to make that 40 miles from Epoufette Bay
into Naubinway, and it was a story of men against the seas every
steep,
foot of the distance. Nevertheless, as long as we could keep the
bilge pumps ahead of the incoming water, our chances for keeping
afloat
seemed
to be favorable.
Those
five
hours of pitching and
pounding seemed like an eternity. Naubinway has little to offer
boatmen except quiet water and a place to tie up, but it was like
heaven to
us.
Through years of experience in seagoing ships and small pleas
ure boats, I have developed a high degree of immunity from sea
sickness. If I
exposed to it long enough in a rough sea and in
m
a wobbly boat, however, I can still get slightly squeamish. In all
the beating Transco II took in making that run into Naubinway
I did not experience any ill effects. After I got ashore, however, it
took several hours to get the land to quit
I staggered around,
an
alcohol-less drunk.
my own
dition before, I could prescribe
whiskey. Half an hour
sensation of dizziness
walk without staggering;
could walk a straight line.
later I could
was gone;
I
was so dizzy
faced
this con
Having
medicine a jigger of
rolling. I
all
The weather forecasts predicted near-perfect weather for all of
Lake Michigan the following day, and they turned out to be cor
rect. At dawn Lake Michigan looked like a big, docile millpond.
seemed almost unbelievable that it was the same furious sea
that had given us such dreadful punishment only a few hours
earlier. Dahl and I decided to get on to Manistique as fast as pos
sible before the lake might again show us the treacherous side of
It
its
personality.
a lake that
On
showed scarcely a ripple our run to Manistique
from Naubinway was uneventful. From Naubinway we took a
straight compass course almost out of sight of land that cleared
Point Patterson by about 5 miles. A similar run of about 20 miles
took us around Point Seul Choix. After another 25 miles Transco
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
116
where we were
Club.
Yacht
to go ashore as guests of the Manistique
of about 5,000, provides an
Manistique, a pleasant little city
in many
excellent example of a change that is now happening
Lawrence
St.
the
of
With
Seaway,
Lakes
Great
completion
ports.
like other Great Lakes towns, wants to be a seaport
II cruised into the
mouth
of the Manistique River,
Manistique,
to attain that
commercial advantage.
To
accomplish
a Gargantuan program of port facility improvements is needed.
Manistique already has a substantial breakwater protecting the
and
is striving
this,
mouth
of the river. Extensive dredging has
widen and deepen the river in
development project
this area.
will give the city
conveniently located alongside
its
been under way
to
Completion of the harboran adequate port facility
central business area.
At Manistique John Dahl and I saw another example of how
unreliable Lake Michigan weather can be. Transco II had just
been moored at the Manistique Yacht Club when a strong wind
began blowing from the South, sweeping the entire length of the
lake s 24,000 square miles.
Oddly enough it was the seagulls who gave the first indication
that this blow was coming. Just across the basin from the Manis
tique Yacht Club a wholesale fish market is located near a group
of docks for fishing boats.
No boats were
there
when
I first noticed
the place, and it seemed to be devoid of human activity. The fish
market and the grounds around it, however, appeared to be a
rendezvous for
all
the seagulls of Schoolcraft County.
These were
glaucous gulls, those powerful, raucous, always-hungry birds that
are seen throughout the Great Lakes area. Thousands of gulls were
roosting
on the roof
of the fish-market buildings; the place
was
almost solid white with them.
All of a sudden, as
if
by
signal,
the entire flock began to
cackle and squawk. Then they took to the air and headed out into
the lake. They must have sighted an incoming fishing boat, we
thought.
Twenty minutes later a big, diesel-powered trawler, accompanied
by all the wheeling and squawking gulls, came up the river and
STRAITS OF MACKINAC
117
MANISTIQUE
Other fishing boats were soon coming
in off the lake, all having received storm warnings.
The gulls, incidentally, presented an interesting sight as they sat,
tied
up
at the fish market.
apparently waiting for something. Eventually, a dump car came
out of the market riding on a narrow gauge track of steel rails
that ran to the water s edge. The car reached the end of the rails
and
out a couple of tons of fishheads, tails, entrails all
the refuse from the trawler s catch. Bedlam broke loose among the
spilled
The next hour was a
feathery riot of flapping, squawking,
birds
for
screaming
fighting
any morsel of the smelly meal that
could be grabbed and carried away. The birds settled down to the
gulls.
again only after they had swallowed the last ounce of
the fish-market refuse.
lazy
life
By
midafternoon the wind was blowing a near
gale. Several
other boating parties in boats larger than Transco II also came in
off the lake and tied up in the yacht basin. By that time Lake
Michigan was throwing countless tons of water completely over
the Manistique Harbor Breakwater. There was every indication
that we were not going to get out of Manistique in time to be on
hand for the welcome that had been arranged in Milwaukee.
John Dahl decided to remain aboard Transco II until we found
out what the weather would permit us to do. I went on to the
hotel because I seemed to be developing a cold. My brow was
slightly feverish and there was a scratchy feeling in my throat that
was fast giving me a whiskey voice with bullfrog overtones. At
the Barnes Hotel, Art Hough, the proprietor, tried to
make me
as
comfortable as possible.
Next morning I awoke feeling as if I had somehow incurred
the wrath of God. One minute I d be burning with fever. A minute
later I was like an iced fish. My throat felt as if it had been
stuffed with feathers. I thought I d better ask for help while I
still had some voice left.
Art Hough came to the room, and I croaked out my story as
best I could to a gentleman
thetic
and cooperative.
who
could not have been more
sympa
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
118
"Do
you want
"That
me
the big
s
know whether
to call
a
question,"
to ask for
physician?"
I replied.
he asked.
"The
a doctor or a
way
priest!
I feel I
But
don t
let s get the
m
liable to live."
and find out how long I
hour
an
about
seeking to find the source
Dr. James Fyvie spent
convinced you
of my trouble. Finally, he said, "Captain Hogg, I
have a serious case of virus infection of the throat." He then gave
me a hypodermic shot of penicillin and some prescription medi
cines. I was told to stay in bed and go light on food. The doctor
doctor
first
m
would come again the next day.
The medicine apparently included a sedative. I slept practically
the clock around. When I awoke, I was on fire with fever.
My
pajamas were soaked with perspiration. More than this, the hotel
room was full of May flies! When I tried to grab a handful of
them, however, I could not catch a single one. These flies, which
were
my
eyes, were only the
perfectly clear there right in front of
feverish imagination. This is the state in which Dr.
figment of
my
Fyvie found me. When I tried to speak to him I couldn t make the
slightest sound. To answer the doctor s questions I could only ask
and paper by sign language and write notes.
t have to do any selling job to induce me to
accept hospitalization. I managed to dress and climb into the
doctor s car under my own power. In the Schoolcraft Memorial
Hospital the doctors and nurses really went to work on my weak
ened body with around-the-clock shots of penicillin and all sorts
for pencil
Dr. Fyvie didn
of bright colored
Some
thirty-six
pills.
Most
of the time I just slept.
hours after entering the hospital, I awoke from
a sleep of several hours. The fever was gone and there were no
May flies in the room. I was much better!
"Good
feel
morning, Captain
Hogg,"
said the nurse.
"How
do you
today?"
"I
feel pretty
good for the shape
I
m
in,"
I replied.
had spoken
instinctively without even realizing my voice had
returned after three days of speechlessness. As soon as Dr. Fyvie
released me, I was ready to check out of the hospital, take com
I
mand
of Transco II again,
and get on with the
cruise.
13
fROM MANISTIWE
TO JOLIET, ILLINOIS
After all the rough going Lake Michigan had given
us from the Straits of Mackinac to Manistique, it gave us a sample
of its occasional docility and good behavior on the next leg of the
journey. From Manistique Transco II sped southward over glassy
seas past Point DeTour and the string of big and little islands at
the mouth of Wisconsin s Green Bay. In slightly less than five
hours of delightful, fair-weather cruising we clipped off 10D miles
and were ashore in Menominee, Michigan, for lunch and refueling.
From Menominee we had 20 miles of open water across Wis
consin s Green Bay to the Sturgeon Bay ship canal. This canal is
a 6,000-foot channel cut through ti(ie solid limestone of the Door
Peninsula. Completed in 1881, it provides a ship lane between
Lake Michigan and Green Bay near the middle of the southern
half of Green Bay. It shortens the distance by over 100 miles for
vessels that would otherwise have to go around the end of Lake
Michigan s longest peninusula. Thanks to the canal and continu
ing good weather, Transco II ended the day
s
run in Manitowoc,
Wisconsin.
Another day of almost perfect weather and Transco II sped
119
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
120
southward again, keeping about 5 miles offshore on the world s
sixth largest lake that was now as placid as a duckpond. The last
80 miles of this leg of our long voyage was little more than an
at the Milwaukee Yacht Club.
appetizer for lunch as we docked
Several busloads of Milwaukeeans were on hand to give us a real
Wisconsin welcome.
original Transco had stopped for several days in 1925 at
Yacht Club, where she was pulled out of the water
Milwaukee
the
for a coat of paint and a general overhauling. Thirty-four years
The
only thing that looked familiar about the
Yacht Club was the skyline of Juneau Park. The club that I knew
burned some years ago and had been replaced with a bigger and
after that first visit, the
modern structure. The old club had perhaps a hundred
members with as many boats. Today s club has boats literally by
the acre, including hundreds of the most luxurious seagoing yachts
better
to
be seen anywhere in the world.
During our three days .in Milwaukee, I had the opportunity of
renewing many friendships established during the 1925 cruise.
Because the Evinrude Motor Company cooperated with me in the
cruises of
men
both Transcos,
many
of
my
associations
have been with
Hugo Biersach was the person I
He had been the guiding spirit of the original
Transco cruise and, although now retired, had taken a consultative
role in planning the 1959 journey. At the age of seventy-two,
Hugo has a home on Lake Pewaukee, a few miles outside of Mil
the
of that organization.
most wanted
to see.
waukee, and still manages to spend a good deal of his time aboard
both motor- and sailboats. Curling is his favorite winter sport.
On
Friday, July 17, John Dahl and I arose in the morning to
out for Chicago. When we arrived at the Milwaukee Yacht
Club, however, we found Lake Michigan shrouded in a buttermilk
start
was
o clock the fog began to
became possible to see a ship at
a distance of about 300 yards. To be as safe as possible we took
the boat about 5 miles offshore before heading south.
fog. Visibility
a
lift
bit.
We
practically zero.
shoved
Off Waukegan,
off
when
Illinois,
By
8
it
the fog lifted to give us a visibility of
MANISTIQUE
JOLIET
about 5 miles.
We
121
decided to go ashore in Waukegan for lunch
and to have a consultation with U.S. Coast Guard officers. I
wanted to know a
lot
more than our
charts told us about a missile-
range that spanned many square mile^s of Lake Michigan
from a land base south of Waukegan. My own experience in the
Navy had made clear what a perilous nuisance small-boat oper
firing
ators
We would go
can be on a naval proving ground.
the middle of
Lake Michigan,
if
right
down
necessary, to keep out of such
dangerous waters.
Fortunately, the Coast
missile firing that day.
Guard
We
officers told
us there would be no
could go right on
down the lake within
mean having several
sight of the shore all the way. It
would
also
safe harbors conveniently near, in case of emergency.
Transco II was about 5 miles off the Chicago Breakwater Light
house when a husky wind began blowing from the Southeast. In
a few minutes we were fighting our way at reduced speed through
a sea of choppy whitecaps. John and I could easily take the pound
ing at this stage of the cruise.
We d
soon be out of
it
by
getting
behind the Chicago Breakwater and then going down the lock that
dropped us from the level of Lake Michigan onto the Chicago
River. We had come to the end of our 800-mile run through every
kind of summer weather the Great Lakes could throw at us!
Half a century ago the Chicago River flowed into Lake Michi
gan. Then, the engineers decided that
it
around and send
it
it
would be
southward through the
better to turn
Illinois
River to the
Mississippi. There was no dam at the mouth of the Chicago River
in 1925 when I took Transco out of the river into Lake Michigan.
The river then had a current of 5 or 6 knots. The dam and lock
now control the flow of water out of Lake Michigan, and there is
very
little
current.
Near the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River
Transco II tied up at the same steel-and-concrete dock where the
original Transco had stopped overnight.
There, in the shadow of the skyscraper home of the Chicago
Tribune, we were greeted by the familiar huddle of reporters,
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
122
and television men. After we finished
photographers, and radio
this "ordeal," we met Janie, the wife of my late brother James,
and her son Walter, who is about the same age as John Dahl. This
was one of the most pleasant of the many reunions that occurred
II.
throughout the cruise of Transco
I had spent in Canada and on
and
After the weeks that John
the Great Lakes in weather that ranged mostly
bitter cold,
we had
from
chilly to
acquired the acclimatization of a couple of
Milwaukee a temperature of 75 degrees was like
the climate of Singapore to us. In Chicago we came off the chilly
lake into a temperature of 95 degrees and intermittant drizzles of
rain. What heat! What humidity! It was like a steam bath.
polar bears. In
"What
a
exclaimed John Dahl, mopping the perspira
By the time we d been in Chicago less than half
climate!"
from
an hour we were already yearning for the cool breezes of the
his face.
tion
Lakes.
"Yes,"
I replied.
you thinV this
it s
"And
is hot,
wait
going to get a lot worse for us. If
till
we
get to St. Louis,
Kansas
City,
Omaha, and all the way up the Missouri River into western Mon
tana. We are not liable to see any cool weather again until we go
down
the gorge where the Columbia River breaks through the
Cascade Mountains into western Oregon. You ll see plenty of
snow on those mountains when we get there."
For about
half a century I ve
times. In 1916, shortly after
my
to
been in and out of Chicago many
I were married, I gave up
Ruth and
job as a reporter-photographer with the Los Angeles Express
associate editor of a well-known magazine of inter
become an
national circulation published in Chicago. I signed a contract for
a year. During that year Ruth and I had about everything that
money could buy, and very little of everything that money can
never buy. Living in a South Side apartment and working in a
Loop
office, I
was
like
a caged bear!
On the day that my contract expired we had our trunks and
bags packed and were on a train that took us back to California.
A
few weeks
123
JOLIET
MANISTIQUE
later the
United States entered World
War
I.
I
was
called to active duty as a voluntary reservist in naval aviation.
would be grossly unfair to draw a picture of the nation s
second-largest city as a boatman sees it from the Chicago River.
The Chicago River is the city s trunk-line sewer, and Chicago is
It
no more
like its sewer than Paris or
any other
city.
After hundreds of miles of boating in clean, wide-open waters,
the Chicago River seems very crooked and narrow. Moreover,
after
weeks of breathing
clean, pure air,
one
s
sense of smell be
sensitive, which only tends to make the aroma
of the Chicago River all the more obnoxious. Another factor is
that the river is a bottleneck for everything that moves on water
comes remarkably
between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. Commercial and
pleasure craft by the thousands add up to a traffic jam as bad as
on any road in
On
the land.
boatman is too busy keeping clear of other boats
of anything else. If he does have a chance to look up
and around a bit, however, he has a perfect worm s-eye view from
the river a
to see
much
under the numerous bridges. He is seeing Chicago from the bot
of a small, man-made canyon, the walls of which are the
tom
skyscrapers
whose sewers cascade from the basements
into the
river.
The
Michigan Avenue
Lake
water
there.
As one goes on
Michigan
mostly
Bridge.
across the vast city on the downstream route, the pollution gets
progressively worse. The sewers become bigger and more numer
river is fairly clean in the vicinity of the
It is
ous as the river twists and turns through the famous Chicago
Loop
the retail-shopping and office-building area
into the
seem
ingly endless wilderness of industrial plants.
I tried to assure
we
John
that if
could get to the big,
pollution
would become
he could retain his breakfast
until
new
lock just below Joliet, Illinois, the
less obnoxious because of increasing
dilution.
About the only good
thing I can say about Transco II s run
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
124
through the Chicago River
legal speed limits
Loop and on through
the
is
that
we
got out of
just as fast as
right through
the bowels of the nation s second-largest
having to stop at a single
experience that was!
city without
lightful
it
would permit. Moreover, we went
traffic signal.
What
a de
We entered the big, modern Chicago Drainage Canal, which had
been much enlarged and improved since I saw
it
from Transco
1925. The trash-dumping we observed in this area is
shocking. If dumping the like of which we saw continues,
will
be
filled to
the point of closing
it
in
certainly
the canal
to all navigation!
no such rubbish accumulations during the 1925 Transco
voyage through the canal. Now, for a distance of about 50 miles
the water surface of the canal was iso heavily littered that we had
to reduce our speed to a crawl. Several times we had to stop to
find a route through masses of floating scrap lumber. We had litter
ing of this sort on the Hudson River, but it was infinitely worse
I saw
in the Chicago Drainage Canal.
John was at the wheel of Transco II when I noticed something
I d never before seen in running the old Chicago Drainage Canal.
For some reason Transco II was throwing "soapsuds" off her
bow, and her wake looked like a swath of foot-deep snow churned
astern.
up
I called John
asked him
if
s
attention
to
this
strange
phenomenon and
he coud think of the reason for
soapy-looking water for a moment, but could
it.
He
eyed the
come up with no
explanation.
A
later I had a thought: Could it be that all that soapywater
is a product of the detergents sent down the sewers
looking
of Chicago? In 1925 detergents hadn t been invented. This was,
perhaps, the reason why I had not seen any foam on the original
little
Transco voyage.
Because of our limited speed through the Chicago River and
the Drainage Canal it was late afternoon when Transco II arrived
in Joliet,
Joliet
where we had planned
has no service
remain overnight.
facilities whatever for small boats; we
to
125
JOLIET
MANISTIQUE
couldn t even find a suitable place to
main canal, we d be
wake of passing barges.
the
tie
up. If
we remained
jostled every five or ten minutes
in
by the
We finally found a quiet spot behind
a weir under a railroad drawbridge. There we were, afloat in a
cesspool, with freight trains thundering overhead.
"What do you want to do?" asked John, as we locked the boat
for the night.
we better scramble over this sea wall," I replied.
a good hotel here, the Louis Joliet. Let s go there and
clean up, have some food, then get a good night s rest. By
"I
think
"There
s
noon tomorrow we ll be at the Joliet Yacht dub, where we re
going to be met by a nephew and niece of mine, Mr. and Mrs.
Kirk Fowler, from Davenport, Iowa. We ll be able to have a picnic
lunch with them fried chicken with all the trimmings!"
At Joliet the Chicago Drainage Canal goes through the city
between steel-and-concrete retaining walls. The canal s surface is
on a level with many of the housetops. Now, I wouldn t live below
those walls for all the gold in Fort Knox! If that steel and concrete
ever let go, Joliet would have a flood that would make any flood
disaster of record seem like a perfumed bath. The city would be
submerged in a cesspool!
At one point, as Transco II was coining through the Chicago
Drainage Canal, John asked me, "What would you do if you were
to fall into this awful
"I
d swim
cation!"
out,"
water?"
I replied.
"Then
I think I
would
die of mortifi
FROM JOUET
TO ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
At the huge lock just below Joliet we found the
red light against us. Leaving Dahl to bring the boat through the
lock, I took a camera and went ashore to take a few pictures.
After the gate opened I made a couple of shots to show Transco
II entering the lock. Then I scrambled down the long flights of
concrete stairs beyond the lower lock gate, where I found a per
fect spot for getting a picture of our boat coming out of the lock.
The foul water below the gate began to swirl and flow in eddies,
indicating that the gigantic valves were being opened to let the
water out of the lock. In a few minutes the water came roaring
out of the lock. As it heaved and tumbled it also began to foam.
area between the sills and below the lock gate was soon cov
ered with what looked like a yard-deep layer of new snow. Farther
down the canal the suds broke up into small, floating islands.
When the lock gate opened I got a picture of Transco II coming
The
out.
She appeared to be pushing snowdrifts aside
of withering heat!
One of the army engineers
126
came along the
this
on a day
retaining wall
and
JOLIET
ST.
LOUIS
127
up a brief conversation with me. Having seen us on tele
and
read our story in the newspaper, he was quite interested
vision
in our trip. When I asked him about detergents causing the sudsy
water in the canal, he said, "Your idea is correct. The suds are
struck
caused by the tremendous quantities of soapy detergents in the
sewage."
Below the huge lock near
River widens out
Joliet the Illinois
a lakelike expanse where there is no perceptible current. Here
the sewage becomes stagnant, decomposes, and bubbles in a vast,
open septic tank. The liquid in it is as black as ink and the gas
into
it bubbling is the "purest" kind of common sewer gas.
After getting out of that cesspool as fast as possible, John and
I were delighted to find ourselves, not in clean water by far, but
that keeps
in water clean
enough to be a tremendous improvement compared
with the Chicago River and the Drainage Canal.
A few miles below "Septic Tank Lake" the river narrows. The
Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers come into the Illinois at this
point, bringing with them a volume of relatively clean water suffi
cient to thin out the pollution.
A
on we sighted the marina of the Joliet Yacht
the opposite side of the river from, and some 20
miles below, Joliet. The choice of location is obvious; boatmen
little
Club. It
is
farther
on
and boat clubs
At
the Joliet
selves at
home
keep away from polluted waters.
Yacht dub, Dahl and I were invited to make our
will always
as guests of the club as soon as
we
stepped ashore.
A little later Kirk and Jane Fowler, with their two children, Timmy
and Nancy, arrived in their car.
The weather was hot and humid. Off to the west a thunder
storm was rolling in, but we didn t let a little thing like that stop
us.
We
carried
all five
picnic baskets aboard Transco II, hoisted
and put up the side curtains. Just then there was a flash
of lightning and a clap of thunder that sounded like a salvo of
16-inch naval guns. The rain came down in wind-blown sheets
the top,
and torrents.
With our folding
table set up, the six people
on Transco
7/ s
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
128
deck were a
and we
heat,
crowded. However, the storm had dissipated the
were out of the rain. We had a comforting, snug
bit
pouring down, gnawing fried
chicken off the bones and eating baked beans and all the other
good things stowed in Jane s baskets.
We began to reminisce. I said something about remembering
the day when Kirk was born.
and Aunt Ruth at that time?" asked Jane.
"Where were
feeling as
we
sat there with the rain
you
you
"Can
"Indeed
actually remember?"
I
do,"
I replied.
"It
seems
like yesterday.
were aboard a naval transport, the U.S.S.
Ruth and
I
Chaumont, en route from
San Francisco to Shanghai. It was Thanksgiving Day, 1926. Our
off the coast of China. We had just
ship was about 2,000 miles
finished a fine turkey dinner in the wardroom when an orderly
me
handed
on
a radiotelegram from
the other side of the earth
and I had hoped to
Oklahoma, a town
was the message Ruth
Bartiesville,
from
us! It
receive, but didn
t
receive,
stopped in Honolulu: EIGHT-POUND THANKSGIVING
LOVE
.
We
when our ship
BOY ALLS WELL
HARRY. It was a welcome message!"
had a happy four hours there at the Joliet Yacht Club. The
.
.
Fowlers started back to Davenport, transferring all the surplus
food from the picnic baskets to Transco 7/ s refrigerator before
they
left.
rain stopped. Dahl and I ran on down the river and tied
the
up for
night at Ottawa, Illinois. In 1925 Transco had tied up
at Ottawa after hours of battling up the rapids of the Illinois River
The
past Starved Rock, a few miles downstream. Frank Wilton and
I had stopped at the Ottawa Hotel. In 1959 I found the old hotel
still
a new and modern steel bridge over
was much the same as it had been thirty-four
in business. Except for
the river, Ottawa
years ago.
The following day (Monday), Dahl and I had a thoroughly
ran down the Illinois River from
enjoyable day of cruising.
Ottawa to Peoria, and the weather and other conditions were made
We
to order.
JOLIET
ST.
129
LOUIS
A
few miles below Ottawa we went down the Starved Rock
Lock. It lies alongside historic Starved Rock, now an Illinois State
Park, and the fourth lock in the system controlling the flow of
water from Lake Michigan all the way down the Illinois into the
Mississippi. In the vicinity of Starved
Rock the landscape has not
changed, except that the rapids that gave
Frank Wilton and
me
such an arduous battle are gone. They were drowned by the dams
and locks
that
were
built for flood control
and improvement of
navigation.
In the Starved Rock area and
all
the rest of the
way down
the
River into the Mississippi, water pollution is not as bad
nowadays as it was when the original Transco came up the river.
Illinois
A number
of new sewage-reduction plants are gradually restoring
the river to something like its original cleanliness and beauty. In
1925 no fish could live in the waters of the Illinois. At that time,
we
did not see a bird of any kind.
Now, the fish are beginning to reappear in the
too,
and many
known
of the birds
to the
Illinois again,
Midwest have returned.
I
counted scores of great blue herons, little green herons, ducks,
wading birds, blacked-crowned night herons, owls, hawks, and
about all the other land birds familiar to residents of Illinois.
There were also
literally
hundreds of white
big, snow-white herons that have
from the American
of near-extinction
egrets, those beautiful,
made a comeback
after years
scene.
After a stop for lunch at Chillicothe, Illinois, Dahl and I sped
into Lake Peoria, an expansion in the Illinois River that is physi
cally similar to
Galilee.
where, again,
of the club.
We
and about the same
In midafternoon we docked
we
met many
size as the Biblical
at the
Sea of
Peoria Yacht Club
received a hearty welcome and
interesting people there, all of
all
the privileges
them boatmen of
one kind or another. The most unusual character was Patrick
O Brian
Pat
is
of Seattle, Washington.
a bachelor in his
long hobby and a
way
of
For him, boating has been a life
Many years ago, he told me, he had
fifties.
life.
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
130
first Transco voyage. He had always hoped that
he
might find a way to make at least some part of the
someday
same trip. Eventually, he built himself a small cruising houseboat
watchmaker by trade, he lived in the
with an outboard motor.
read about the
A
Lake Washington while working ashore.
In the spring of 1959 he and his dog got going on the longanticipated cruise. He had his houseboat trucked from Seattle to
Fort Benton, Montana, with the idea of going on through to New
York City in his own good time. He went down the Missouri for
houseboat on Seattle
s
2,286 miles, into the Mississippi, and then up the Mississippi and
the Illinois into
A
Lake Michigan.
on Lake Michigan convinced him he
very brief experience
didn t have the right kind of a boat for the Great Lakes. He turned
around and went back to Peoria, found a job, and had just re
home
turned to his
afloat
when we came ashore
Yacht Club.
"Where do you expect to go from here?"
"Well,"
said Pat,
down
Orleans. I
ll
This
get along
is
the
I asked.
I see winter sneaking
up on me,
I
ll
the Illinois River and the Mississippi to New
find a job there, spend the winter in a mild climate,
get along
and
"when
at the Peoria
somewhere
life
for
else
when another summer
rolls
around.
me!"
Because I had several errands to be looked after in downtown
Peoria, I decided to spend the night at the Jefferson Hotel.
The
following morning, while checking out of the hotel, I dis
St. Christopher medal I d been wearing was miss
covered that a
ing.
The
hotel
manager checked the
staff to see if
anyone had
but no one had. Somewhat chagrined I handed the
it,
some one
manager a card bearing my home address, saying,
finds the medal and turns it in, please send it to me. But if it is
found
"If
not found, my loss will be mostly sentimental."
From Peoria Dahl and I made a happy, easy day of it by running
down the lakelike waters of the Illinois River to Beardstown. This
was
delightful cruising
slug her
way up
on a
river
where in 1925 Transco had to
against a 6- to 8-knot current
Because of the
JOLIET
ST.
131
LOUIS
excellent system of locks
and dams, a boatman may now relax
and enjoy the beauty of the wooded shore line.
Beardstown, where Transco II arrived by midafternoon, was
little changed since Transco had stopped overnight there. The
changes that were in evidence were mostly along the waterfront.
In 1925 Beardstown had no waterfront service facilities for
probably because there were no boats and appar
pleasure boats
ently not the slightest interest in any kind of boating!
Today
the
situation is quite different.
The
improvements of recent years have raised the water
Beardstown a beautiful, almost-landlocked bay. The
a
has
town
thriving boat club, a good marina that is being steadily
enlarged and improved, a substantial fleet of boats, and boundless
river
level to give
The bay, the club, and the marina constituted
a
happy surprise to me.
quite
Next day Transco II sped down the last 90 miles of the Illinois
and out of the mouth of the river into the mighty Mississippi,
the biggest river we d seen since leaving the St. Lawrence. Another
20 miles down the Mississippi and I went ashore at Alton, Illinois,
to pick up some money waiting for me at the Western Union
office. I got back to the waterfront just as a downpour of rain,
boating enthusiasm.
with plenty of thunder and lightning, began.
Transco II was tied up alongside a dredging barge; to get aboard
I had to go over a gangplank and traverse the deck of the barge.
On
the deck was a
buxom woman
about
fifty
years of age in
bathing togs, standing on the deck as if about to dive off into the
river. She was accompanied by a girl about eight or ten years old,
who was wearing a bathing suit and a life jacket. Alongside the
woman and the girl were five of the huskiest German "police dogs"
I ve ever set eyes upon. They looked more like Canadian timber
wolves than dogs!
m the human
boat!" exclaimed the lady as I walked
past her.
and
held
her
nose
feet
With that she
first, into the
splashed,
"I
The child and the dogs leaped in after her.
For the next ten minutes Dahl and I stood there, with the
Mississippi.
rain
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
132
down our
faces, watching this strange group swim in
out in the river. The dogs were yapping, growling,
barking, and snapping at each other with great ferocity. They ap
and
peared to be having a grand time, however, as did the
her "dinghy." They were still swimming when Dahl and I shoved
running
circles far
"boat"
heading down the Mississippi for St. Louis.
Because this stretch of the Mississippi has a normal current of
6 to 8 miles per hour, our 25 miles downhill on the Father of
Waters didn t last very long. We were going so fast we almost ran
past the Monroe City Boat Works, where we intended to land,
before we could even sight it on this river of majestic distances.
St. Louis looked very much the same as it had from the first
off,
Transco.
American
The old Eads
Civil
War,
Bridge, built only a few years after the
in use. Except for the new buildings,
is still
has not changed appreciably. At the yard where
however, Transco II was almost in the shadow of the
huge Veterans Bridge, a magnificent structure that was not there
in 1925.
the city
we
s skyline
tied up,
15
FROM ST. LOUIS
TO KANSAS
C/Ty,
To me,
of American
St.
MISSOURI
Louis
of nearly a million people, its
father might have been Chicago
Orleans.
New
is
one of the most
interesting
Midwestern. With a populatioi
personality is that of a city whos<
cities. It is distinctly
and whose mother was Nev
waterfront, particularly, St. Louis resemble;
Orleans. Inland, in the vicinity of Choteau and Jeffersoi
Along the
Avenues, one can easily imagine himself in the Chicago Looj
district. The only characteristic of St. Louis I really dislike is
harsh climate in which it lives and thrives. The winters are no
so bad, but the summers are almost unbearable.
th<
Getting a late morning start up the Mississippi from St. Louis
on Friday, July 24, we had a choice of two routes to the moutl:
of the Missouri River. There had been no such choice for the
original Transco. One of many Mississippi River improvements
made in recent years was the construction of the Chain of Rocks
Canal, which leaves the Mississippi within sight of the St. Louis
on the Illinois side and comes back into the river almosi
bridges
133
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
134
Missouri. Transco II could thus go up
opposite the mouth of the
the canal or stay in the river.
The Chain of Rocks Canal bypasses a bend in the river, short
is negligible for
ening the distance by several miles. This saving
small craft, however. The canal is primarily for slow, heavy, com
mercial boats going upstream; it gives them still water instead of
John and I decided to
be more timego up the river because the canal would probably
consuming for Transco 11. It had taken me four hours to traverse
the 18 miles from St. Louis to the mouth of the Missouri in 1925.
the 10-mile-an-hour current of the river.
Transco 11 could laugh at the swift current; she cut three hours
off that time.
As Transco
up
11 approached the
mouth of
the Missouri
we came
Omaha, pushing six barges of
bounced over her wake and went
astern of the big, diesel tug
perhaps 2,000 tons each. We
into the Missouri only slightly ahead of her.
Omaha and her barges were on
We
noted that the
way from Houston, Texas,
to Sioux City, Iowa. When the original Transco had come down
the Missouri, all the way from Fort Benton, Montana, to its mouth
the river had had no commercial traffic whatever. In fact, about the
only boats we saw were a few ferryboats, shuttling across at widely
their
separated points.
Although many attempts have been made to operate boats as
commercial carriers up and down the Missouri, only in recent
years has this long-cherished dream become a reality. The pro
moters of all the earlier attempts found themselves contending
with a wild, cantankerous, temperamental river that was totally
unpredictable, and soon gave up. The vast commerce the river
became possible only when the Federal government
took a hand and installed a controlled and marked navigation
carries today
channel from Sioux City into the Mississippi.
At the wheel of Transco II I didn t have to go very far up the
Missouri to realize that I was in a very different kind of a river
from the one I d come down in 1925. Today s Missouri River has
been brought pretty well under human control. The volume of
LOUIS
ST.
silt it
135
KANSAS CITY
carries has
been
substantially
reduced from the cubic mile
silt that was going out of its mouth each year until recently.
Not only did Transco II have a marked and controlled naviga
tion channel all the way up to Sioux City, but we also had largean entire book of them detailing every mile of the
scale charts
route. Frank Wilton and I had to get down the river "navigating"
of
by water-surface indications that were often deceptive
enough to put us on sand bars a dozen times a day. Worse, there
were then no charts of any part of the river; we only had a series
of state maps that told us in a general way where the river was
going. We only knew about where we were in any state and could
entirely
usually find our location with relation to the counties of the various
states.
Sighting a bridge was always a sure way of pinpointing
on the maps. From the general map picture of the river
ourselves
we
itself and check with the compass
and to know about when and where
learned to study the river
to identy curves in the river
we were due
to sight the next
and-miss method of
town or city. It was rather a
and we missed quite
river navigation,
hit-
fre
quently.
From
the experience of having come down the then-navigable
the Missouri, I certainly had no delusions about the
of
length
chore Transco II s engines had before them to get us up the river
knew the motors could do it, but it was going
to be a slow business. The opposing current would pull our cruis
ing speed down to about 15 miles an hour. There were also some
relatively short stretches of fast water, where I knew we d be
against the current. I
lucky
if
the current left us 5 miles an hour.
Steering upstream on the Missouri calls for mental and physical
activity that will keep any boatman alert at the wheel. Bucking
the current and keeping in the channel are difficult tasks. The
rolling current constantly produces on the surface of the water
huge
boils that swirl violently in all directions.
tugging at the
throw the
bow
of the
craft off course.
They
are eternally
upbound boat, and each one tends
The man
course only by constant vigilance.
at the
to
wheel can keep on
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
136
The bridge
was coining
across the river at St. Charles, Missouri,
into view around noon, the time for Dahl to take his
him and
stint at the
down on
For the next hour or so I sat there,
watching the river ahead, checking our progress on the charts,
and glancing at John occasionally in an effort to see how he might
wheel. I surrendered the control station to
sat
the chair abaft the cabin door.
be reacting to this kind of river.
It was reassuring to note that he was handling the boat prac
tically the same as I would have. He was fast gaining knowledge
about a river he d never seen until that day, and I decided to let
him
learn in his
own way.
I
had ample confidence in
his skill as a
boatman.
After quite a long period of silence, John turned to
frown and a shake of his head.
"What
s
on your
mind?"
me
with a
I asked.
was just thinking," he said, "what a whale of a push it s
going to be before we ever get to the top of this river!"
"There s no doubt about
I replied. "From here to Fort
Benton we re climbing at the average rate of about 1 foot to each
mile. Put this volume of water on such a slope and it s going
somewhere fast, as you can see. We have 2,286 miles of this.
When we get to Fort Benton we ll be half a mile above sea level,
or more than 1,000 feet higher than we were on Balsam Lake at
the summit of the Trent Waterway System. But this time we re
"I
it,"
not making any of that climb in locks!"
In 1925 there had been times when the river had seemed utterly
interminable. There were days when I was asking myself, "Will
I ever come to the end of this
crazy river?" Of course, the day
finally
came when Transco slid out of Big Muddy onto the rela
and more placid waters of the Father of Waters.
tively clear
Nevertheless,
if
any one who has ever boated down the Missouri
him turn around
thinks he has traveled the world s longest river, let
and go back up, as we did with Transco 111
After a one-hour pause for lunch and rest at
II slugged her
way on up
St. Charles, Transco
against the swift, swirling current of the
ST.
LOUIS
137
KANSAS CITY
we
town of Washing
ton and headed for the shore, to what looked like a marina and a
cluster of small boats. The marina turned out to be the Washington
Boat Club, where we found the usual hearty welcome and hos
Missouri. Late in the afternoon
sighted the
pitality.
about 7,000 popula
tion. Nestled among the rolling, green Missouri hills overlooking
the river, it looks about the same as it did in 1925. Washington s
Washington
is
a picturesque
number-one industry
is
little
city of
the manufacture of corncob pipes. Local
experts claim they make about 35 per cent of all the corncob pipes
puffed by tens of millions of smokers throughout the United States
and around the earth. The neighboring Missouri River cities of
Hermann and Boonvflle make most of the rest of the world s
supply.
After having had two bad nights in the heat of
St.
Louis in a
hotel without air conditioning, I suggested to John that we have
a good meal in a restaurant and sleep aboard Transco II that night.
He was
all in favor of doing just that.
Turning to one of the boatmen at the club, I asked, "Do you
know a restaurant here where we can get a good meal?"
"There s no better place than Mealers!" he replied.
The name was a puzzler. Are people who eat in
restaurants
mealers in the dialect of Missourians, or could mealer be a family
name? Another question and answer got that one straightened out.
Mr. and Mrs. Mealer own and operate the restaurant. Forthwith,
John and I accepted the suggestion "Eat Your Meals at Mealers,"
and found the food about as good as restaurant food is ever liable
to be.
Dog-tired and short of sleep, Dahl and I crawled into our
berths about 9 o clock that evening and were soon asleep. I d been
asleep for hours, it seemed, when I was awakened by light as
bright as the dawn sun. I crawled out of bed, thinking it was time
to be up and going again. Looking out the cabin door, I saw what
I thought was the rising sun coming up over the middle of the
river.
Then
the light went out. Simultaneously, the sound of a
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
138
coming up the river reached my ears. The light I had
seen was its slightly amber-hued searchlight. I looked at my watch:
3 o clock in the morning! I went back to bed.
diesel tug
Some hours earlier I d been wondering how those Missouri
River tug skippers could find the buoys to push those tugs and
the river at night. Now I had the answer;
strings of barges up
so
their lights are
powerful that they re second only to a noonday
by a modernization
kind we had for street
sun! I learned later that these lights are created
of the old-fashioned carbon arc lamp, the
Kansas City in the late 1890s. My three older brothers
were wonderful because they attracted
swarms of flying insects. Collecting, studying, and classifying in
sects became one of our favorite summer pastimes. In about three
lights in
and
I thought those lights
summer semesters of
this sport for
we learned
name them all in
curious-minded boys
a lot about the insects of Missouri and could
English and Latin. It never occurred to us then that this harmless
hobby had considerable educational value!
Pushing on up the river from Washington, Transco II docked
at Hermann at noon. We took an hour out for lunch and rest,
and got going again. Against the surging current our
progress upstream was tantalizingly slow. Looking at the water
refueled,
over the side of the boat gave the illusion of traveling at full cruis
ing speed. Looking at the shore, the story became entrely different;
our speed measured against the land seemed to be that of a turtle.
Despite her modern engines, Transco II wasn t going up the Mis
souri any faster than my old Transco had come down, with the
swift current boosting her along. Of course, on the lower Missouri
the bigness of the river also gives a magnified impression of slow
speed, even in a fast boat going downstream. The intensity of that
impression depends entirely upon the distance between the boat
and the shore
line.
Despite our seemingly slow progress, Jefferson City, Missouri s
capital, began creeping into view about 4 o clock that afternoon.
The
first buildings I could
easily identify were the great, sprawling
structures of the Missouri State
Penitentiary. I had seen it several
ST.
139
KANSAS CITY
LOUIS
times before, the first time in 1908, when my brother Jimmy and
I traveled the more than 300 miles from Kansas City to St. Louis
in a 16-foot canoe. I was then sixteen years of age.
Years
later I
was sent
to the penitentiary, not as a convicted
criminal, but as a reporter. I was assigned to witness and write the
story of the execution of a notorious criminal. I must confess that
did not see that hanging. I sat in the warden s office reading a
magazine while the execution was being carried out. Minutes
later, when the warden returned to the office, I got the story.
I
I then called my editor.
How much of a story do you
"We
can t use
it
tomorrow
until
about 6 inches. Put
what
it
"The
execution has been completed.
want?"
afternoon,"
in the mail, special
he
said.
delivery."
"Let
And
s
have
that s
I did.
As Transco II, Dahl, and I came past the penitentiary, I could
see through field glasses the faces of numerous prisoners looking
at us from their steel-barred windows. Some of them waved. The
thought in
my mind at that moment was, I m on
prison, looking in.
They re on
those jailbirds give
places with us?
The
beautiful,
if
they could relive their
domed
the outside of that
the inside, looking out!
own
What would
lives to trade
Missouri Capitol was a far more pleasant
sight than the penitentiary.
As we
sighted
it
John and
I
began
looking for a place where a small boat might tie up.
In Jefferson City, however, the natives seem to be totally un
aware that the great Missouri River is flowing past them. With
dozens of strings of freight barges going up and down the river
every day, there isn t even a boat landing. There are no marinas,
no home-based pleasure
boats,
no launching ramps;
in short,
do with the river.
I saw it when the first Transco
practically nothing having anything to
The waterfront today is exactly as
up to some willow trees on the
tied
river
bank
at Jefferson City
in 1925. Nothing here has changed in the last thirty-four years.
It was Saturday afternoon and I had to find a place to get
ashore because I had an appointment to
make a
radio broadcast.
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
140
along the waterfront, John and I finally decided
to tie up alongside a sand-dredging barge; we assumed that it
probably wouldn t be moved before Monday morning. Dahl agreed
After hunting
all
to stay with the boat, while I
went ashore.
After scrambling ashore over the decks of the barge, I had to
walk about half a mile to find a telephone. Eventually I got to a
hotel in
downtown Jefferson City in a taxicab.
That evening I made the broadcast, returned to the hotel, and
had a telephone conversation with my wife, who was in Bartiesville, Oklahoma, waiting to hear from me. We were carrying out
a plan arranged some days earlier. She was to meet me in Kansas
City when I could set the time for Transco 7/ s arrival in the town
where we had grown up together. She had flown from California
to visit her sister in Bartiesville, from whence she could easily get
to Kansas City,
The next day, Sunday, Transco II was again on her way up the
river. We made it to Boonville for lunch and to Glasgow late in
the afternoon.
At Glasgow we found
number of pleasure boats scoot
But the town, like Jefferson City, has no
quite a
ing around on the river.
waterfront boat-service facilities. I
managed
to complete the usual
shore errands by making use of a telephone in the waterfront
office of the Army Engineers. The telephone was a museum relic,
apparently a model of the late 1890s. It was mounted on the wall
and had a
little
crank which one turned to
call the operator.
After a night in Glasgow, we got an early start next day. We
took Transco II for a day s run that took us halfway across the
state of Missouri. All this part of the river was
quite familiar to
me, and
I
was out
to
do
a speed run that day because I
had a
date for that evening in Kansas City with Ruth.
The night was as black as charcoal by the time Transco II
was
on the Jackson County side of
the Missouri, 12 miles below Kansas
City. There were buoys in
the river, however, and we had a
powerful spotlight for finding
off the
mouth
of the Blue River,
ST.
LOUIS
KANSAS CITY
them. The river soon became
141
fairly well lighted
with
all
the re
from the now-looming, distant city.
At the Sharlyn Marina, on the day County side of Kansas City,
the floating docks were wobbly under the weight of the welcoming
crowd. I stepped ashore amidst popping flash bulbs, and Ruth and
I were together again after months of separation .For about two
minutes we seemed to be alone on the dock as we clinched with
flected light
the tears of joy in my beard.
In the Muehlebach Hotel that evening, Ruth handed me the
St. Christopher medal that had gone adrift in Peoria, Illinois.
Some unidentified, honest soul had found it and handed it to the
manager of the Hotel Jefferson. He had sent
It had been forwarded to Ruth in Bartlesville.
it
to California,
and
16
UP THE MISSOURI fROM KANSAS CITY
TO OMAHA, NEBRASKA
so
many
selves to
years
be
total strangers there.
this idea
wrong
The day
Ruth and I had been away from Kansas City for
seemed reasonable to believe we would find our
it
We
soon discovered
how happily
turned out to be.
after the arrival of
Transco II
,
we were
headlined on
the pages of the Kansas City newspapers. That afternoon, when it
was so hot outdoors that we were reluctant to go out of our air-
conditioned hotel suite,
we
stayed in and watched ourselves on
television.
Our telephone rang many
times that night. I answered the first
and found myself in conversation with a local lawyer, one
of my classmates in grade school and a companion hi those youth
ful bug-hunting expeditions under the old carbon arc street
lamps.
The phone rang again and Ruth was talking with a woman, now a
grandmother, a companion of high-school days whom she had
call
not seen in twenty years. The calls kept right on coming as fast
as we could handle them. Old pals also came to the hotel for
brief visits.
142
We made many
dates with friends for meals, motor
KANSAS CITY
trips
about the
OMAHA
143
and
similar pleasant events covering our entire
city,
sojourn in Kansas City.
We also took time out to
dential area
visit a now-somewhat-run-down resi
where the Hogg and Ashbrook families had lived for
years as neighbors after about 1894.
made this trip into the old home neighborhood in a bor
rowed car driven by John Dahl. John, of course, was in a big city
We
where he was a total stranger. Ruth and I directed him through
streets with which we have long been familiar.
along it dawned on me that Kansas City s forest of
had done a lot of growing since Ruth and I had last seen it.
The whole story of the Kansas City forest came back from my
memory.
About the time of the Spanish-American War, an elderly Scot,
William Thompson, was one of our neighbors. To him, trees were
something almost sacred, and he was a specialist in their cultivation.
He hounded the city officials until he got them to create a city
Department of Forestry, with himself as its director; he had the
official title of City Forester. Within a few years he had little trees
As we rode
trees
planted
all
over Kansas City.
native to the Midwest.
When
the Scot
who
Thompson
planted
tree-planting
is
of the earth. Its streets
the kinds of trees
all
s little trees
loved trees died, younger
him took over and the
Today Kansas City
stately trees.
He
thrived and grew.
men
program went
trained under
right on.
probably the woodsiest city on the face
and boulevards are lined with
beautiful,
The
forests. If all
city has a vast system of parks that are veritable
buildings were razed, the whole of Jackson County
within the city limits would be virtually a forest.
I directed
John
to
Linwood Boulevard and Michigan Avenue.
turned south into Michigan Avenue, watched the house num
bers go by, and soon came to number 3412. There, back in a
We
recognized the old Ashbrook home. It is
in use as a residence and looks very much as it did sixty years
forest of giant elms,
still
we
ago.
To
the
amusement of Ruth and John Dahl,
I pointed out
a rain
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
144
fire of dry grass and leaves
spout in which I had made a small
three.
was
Ruth
when I was five years old and
what happened?" asked John.
lot of
should have happened!" I replied.
"Exactly what
smoke went up the rain spout. It made a cloud of smoke over the
roof. Some one hollered fire! At that moment, Elmer Ashbrook,
"And
"A
a prancing, banggalloped into the driveway astride
act
of
the
poking more dry
tailed polo pony. He caught me in
into the rain spout that functioned like a chimney."
Ruth
s father,
grass
Mr. Ashbrook did what my father had told him to do if any of
the Hogg boys committed any vandalism on his property. He laid
me over his knee and paddled my rear end with a rolled-up copy
of the
Kansas City
Star.
Having administered the spanking I deserved, Mr. Ashbrook
handed me over to my father and I received another spanking, this
time with a T-square (Father was an architect). I wish I had
known then what I was to know some years later. I would
have told
my
future father-in-law,
"Someday
I shall spank your
grandson!"
Two
doors
down
the street from the old
also standing in a forest of gigantic elms we
father had built in 1896, after our first
my
stroyed
by an awful
fire
that razed
an
Ashbrook house and
found the old house
home had been de
entire city
block of homes,
dog kennels, wooden fences, and everything
The Hogg family of four sons and one daughter
growing up in that old house, and my father and
there long after their offspring had matured. Today
barns, chicken houses,
else combustible.
did a lot of
mother lived
the old place is still in use as a residence and has the appearance
of being well maintained. The property now has an ornamental
fence around it, and a garage stands where the horse and cow barn
used to be.
How
vividly I
remember
that fire of 1896!
On
an October
evening, my father hitched our old mare, Bess, to the family surrey
and we all went downtown to see a spectacular parade of marching
bands, gaudily turned out horses,
men in
colorful uniforms,
and
all
KANSAS CITY
OMAHA
145
the trimmings. When the parade was over and we started for home,
we saw the light of a big fire that my father suspected was danger
ously close to our neighborhood.
Dad
for
whip on the old mare s back and she clip-clopped
as fast as her hoofs could get us there. Arriving at 34th
laid the
home
and Michigan Avenue, we found our house and much of the
neighborhood in flames. We could go no further and had no place
to go.
Old Bess was put away in the Ashbrook stables, and seven
members of the Hogg family moved in with the Ashbrooks. Ruth
was evicted from her bed to sleep with her mother, and I slept in
her bed in a nightgown borrowed from her brother, Roy.
In 1896 organized disaster relief such as we have throughout
America today was practically nonexistent. Americans of that day,
however, had a sort of unwritten code of honor under which
neighbors were always on hand to help in times of distress.
Interesting and enjoyable as the Kansas City stopover was, the
long hours and number of appointments was a rugged pace to
maintain.
to
be
When
the appointed day rolled around for Transco II
on a still long voyage up the Missouri River,
could again be perfectly happy with the gypsy
getting along
then, I felt that I
life afloat.
Ruth returned to Barflesville. By that time I was beginning to
visualize an eventual end to the voyage. John Dahl and I had a
promised to put us in Astoria, Oregon, in
Ruth and I also had a plan that promised
month.
another
perhaps
to ease the pain of even this temporary separation. We would tele
phone each other every few days, as we had been doing ever since
tentative schedule that
Transco II
left
New
York. In due time I would
call
her from
Lewiston, Idaho. She would then fly to Portland and meet me at
the Columbia River docks of the Oregon Centennial Exposition
upon Transco H s arrival there.
On the unimproved Missouri River of thirty-four years ago, it
had taken Frank Wilton and me an entire day to get down the
river from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Kansas City. We spent most
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
146
of the day getting the boat off a dozen sand bars. In the new and
channel, Transco II made a nonstop run
improved buoy-marked
upstream from Kansas City to
St.
Joseph between breakfast and
lunchtime!
St.
a city of nearly 100,000. It is modern and pro
many ways. Like Jefferson City, however, it seems to
Joseph
gressive in
is
days when
on
the Mis
steamboats
some 15,000 sternwheel, paddle
operated
It
has no waterfront
sissippi River and all its navigable tributaries.
have forgotten that
it
grew up
as a river port in the
service facilities for pleasure boats
sional
commercial
The
city is
and almost none for the occa
craft that stop there.
a beehive of industry and
is
the distributing center
for a rich agricultural area of Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.
It also has a tourist attraction which seems out of keeping with
its
a
name.
site
St.
Joseph has turned the old Jessie James house into
come from far and near to sit
of historic interest. Visitors
in a chair that Jessie
the murderer
who
James once
terrorized the
and otherwise to
Midwest during the 1870s and
sat in
"honor"
early 1880s.
Joseph Frank Spector, a local sporting-goods dealer, in
John and I take the time out to be his guests for
lunch. After a fine meal in a comfortable, air-conditioned restau
In
St.
sisted that
Mr. Spector wanted to stop at his store for a few minutes
before returning us to the river.
had not been in the store ten
minutes when the wind began to blow. Inky black clouds obscured
rant,
We
and it got as dark as midnight. With the darkness came
a deluge of rain, almost continuous lightning, and thunder that
sounded like a battle. John and I were glad to be in Mr. Spector s
the sun,
store
and not
fighting
our way through the storm on the river.
lasted for an hour; then daylight returned
The tornadolike storm
and the weather settled down to a gentle rain. We were soon back
on the river and on our way up the Missouri again.
The cruising was uneventful, with improving weather, until
about 4 o clock in the afternoon. We were nearing the little town
of Rulo, Nebraska when we sighted a large, fast,
outboard-powered
KANSAS CITY
OMAHA
147
boat coming down the river. This
other, then another, and another.
Omaha, 100 miles
Commodore
boat was followed by an
was a welcoming fleet from
first
It
we d been half expecting.
was Martin Stobda, Omaha outboard-
farther upstream, that
of this fleet
and marina operator.
treated us like visiting royalty.
tied up
at Rulo, stepped into waiting cars, and drove off to Falls City,
motor
dealer, boat seller,
The Omaha boys
Nebraska, where
We
we
attended a banquet in our honor and then
stayed overnight in the local hotel.
Next morning Transco II went up the river with the whole fleet
escorting her. I was not aboard. Dahl was now the skipper of
with Wally Merriam, an Omaha boatman, impersonat
took over the boat of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Brackett
Transco
II,
ing me.
I
the fastest boat in the fleet
so that I could get pictures of Transco
and other boats of the fleet in action.
This was my long-sought opportunity to get a batch of other
wise-unobtainable pictures. I had a handbag full of film and spent
most of the forenoon making pictures with three cameras. I had
two 35mm still cameras, one for pictures in black and white and
the other for shooting color firm. The third camera was a motionpicture camera with which I shot roll after roll of both black-andwhite and color film.
II
No
one went ashore for lunch because every boat in the fleet
had its own bountiful supply of good food, soft drinks, and beer
on
ice.
By 2 o clock
could be
on
in the afternoon I
made without
had
all
the pictures that
duplicating scenes and action already put
film.
About
Dahl brought Transco II alongside Mr. Brackett s boat, Twin Cities, and signaled that he wanted to speak with
me. He said he was going to need gasoline soon and that the best
place to get it would be Hamburg, Iowa.
that time
I replied, "you better stop at Hamburg. We ll go
right,"
Omaha. I ll meet you at the marina or at the Hotel Castle."
With this arrangement agreed upon, John swung Transco II
toward the Iowa shore and was on course for Hamburg, then just
"All
on
to
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
148
coming into view.
Two
of the fleet boats
went into Hamburg with
and began catching up with
Dahl. I gave Twin
bound.
Omaha
were
the other boats of the fleet that
For the next couple of hours everything went well. I was having
Cities full throttle
a lot of fun driving Mr. Brackett
boat, a fast, responsive craft;
s
she was carrying almost no load at
nearly a ton of cargo.
all
compared with Transco IPs
buoy flew astern of us. Another thunderstorm had
begun to roll up from the west. I didn t like the looks of it, but the
Brackett s, who are used to such storms, didn t seem to be worried.
We still had ample daylight and might even get into Omaha before
Buoy
after
the storm broke.
A
We
few minutes after we
couldn t have been more wrong.
had gone under a couple of bridges the storm struck like the one
John Dahl and I had sat out in St. Joseph. It was almost a tornado.
The sky turned
black.
The
daylight vanished. The lightning came
The booming of thunder was deafen
in almost-continuous flashes.
ing.
The
force;
it
visibility
torrent of rain
was thrown
by a wind of
at us
cyclonic
was as if we d gone under a waterfall. In a split second
was reduced to about 50 feet a little bit farther when
the lightning flashed.
About
all I
could do was to throttle to about the speed of the
current and try to keep the bow of the boat headed upstream.
If we tried to make shore by running blind and not knowing where
the shore might be, I knew we faced the prospect of being carried
downstream to crash into a pier of one of the bridges we d just
come under. Trying to anchor in a 10-mile-an-hour current seemed
equally tricky.
As these thoughts
flashed through
my
mind, I asked Mr.
if he had any suggestion,
can t think of anything better
than what you are doing," he replied. He then assisted Mrs.
Brackett into a life jacket. He tossed a jacket to me, too, but I
couldn t let go of the wheel long enough to put it on.
Brackett
"I
Sighting a red buoy with the swift current swirling past
began running in circles around the buoy. If I could keep
it,
it
I
in
and DoA/
at
f/erf
p
opposite the -wholesale fish market
-where thousands of seagulls
Manistique, Michigan,
scavenge for food.
149
Right through the heart of Chicago without stopping for
a
traffic light!
Note the detergent foam
wake.
150
stirred
up
in the
Q>
"^
*>
3
^
s
5.
Is
11
11
III
151
Hogg
says
"Transco
II
ran on gasoline and
coffee"
Stove
used propane gas.
The skipper trimmed his beard with a
pair of scissors, and
John Dahl kept neat with a
electric shaver.
battery-operated
152
Even -when
problem
hotels were not available,
roomy cabin.
sleeping
was no
in the
Hogg and Dahl
enjoyed many tasty meals prepared
small but adequate galley aboard their trim craft.
153
in the
Transco
On
II
had power
to spare for
stretches of clear,
her cross-country cruise.
calm water, the miles clicked
turnpike style.
154
off
155
1
I!
K
156
There are no locks in the Missouri River flood-control
system, so Transco II was trailered around each of five
dams. This is the pull-out below the Fort Randall Dam.
157
John Dahl and Verne Cecil consider the problem of get
ting their craft launched into Fort Peck Reservoir. Truck
and trailer also transported Transco II over 400-mile por
tage from Fort Benton to Lewiston.
158
-n
**
<
T/ze original Transco tied up at this exact spot in Mobridge,
South Dakota, in 1925. Then, there was no bridge over
head.
When
level will
a new flood-control dam is completed, water
be at least halfway up huge pillars.
159
160
-S
I
I
-
161
I
o
52
II
1
I
162
Journey s end! Hogg and Dahl maneuver their craft among
the thousands of small boats that call Astoria, Oregon,
home.
163
John Dahl talks with Ruth Hogg, the skipper s wife, who
had a joyous welcome for the two men at the end of their
historic voyage.
164
KANSAS CITY
165
we d be safe; sooner
own mad violence.
sight,
with
OMAHA
or later the storm would exhaust
itself
its
For a tense and agonizing half hour
Then
I lost sight of
it
hailstones, the waves,
on the current
I cruised
around the buoy.
in the wind, the rain, the
bombardment of
and the
near-total darkness.
We were
adrift
again. Disaster could strike at any second, and
it
did!
To try to see something anything about where we might be
going with the current, I leaned far out over the starboard gunwale,
holding the wheel with one hand, and peered into the torrent of
wind-blown
rain. I could see only about
10 feet ahead of the bow,
except for being near-blind every few seconds while
covered from each flash of lightning.
How
my
eyes re
long this agony of suspense lasted I ll never know; it
eternity. Then, as a tremendous flash of lightning gave
seemed an
me
a
split
second of vision, I saw that we were headed bow-on
and piling not 10 feet ahead! There wasn t
into a wall of rocks
even time to reverse the motor. The boat struck the rocks with
a crunching bang and I hit the water, swimming by the instinct
of self-preservation.
Thank God
who
taught his sons to swim at a very
would
have ended in the Missouri
early age! Otherwise, my
from
Omaha.
about 30 miles downstream
for a father
life
Knowing I was in mortal danger, it took a tremendous exertion
power to avoid the panic that would have sealed my doom
of will
in minutes.
As
I hit the water, I took a
deep breath,
let
myself
go under, and took off my shoes. I repeated this little trick until
I was down to my underwear. As I came to the surface from the
final submersion, I was forced to dive again; my head was being
beaten with a barrage of hailstones as big as golf balls! The black
sky belched ice, water, and fire together!
Swimming with
just as little exertion as
lungs, I let the swift current take
it
took to keep
me, knowing
my
me ashore somewhere sooner or later. It did just that.
I
don t suppose
I
had been
in the water
it
more than
air in
would
five
toss
minutes
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
166
when I had the sensation of being carried
now in water that was littered with small
into an eddy. I
was
pieces of driftwood,
a further indication that I was in an eddy. I could still not see
more than a few feet away as I looked for a piece of driftwood
few
big enough to float me when my feet touched bottom.
A
seconds later I crawled ashore and was standing up to
mud.
was little more than
my
knees
in soft, slimy
I
safely ashore
when a tremendous
flash
of lightning illuminated the rain-lashed scene. I caught a glimpse
of the Brackett boat hardly 20 feet from where I was standing.
Splashing through the mud until I was back in the river up to my
chest, I called out to Mr. Brackett, "Claude, throw me an anchor!"
the anchor splashed into the water. I grabbed it,
ashore as far as the line would go, and hooked it firmly
Seconds
took
it
into the
later,
mud. The danger was over and Twin
Cities
was
still
afloat.
is a huge, powerful man. I went back into the
the
boat, in water up to my neck. Mr. Brackett
river, alongside
reached over the side, caught me under the arms, and hoisted me
Claude Brackett
aboard like a wet rag doll.
Mrs. Brackett was saying her rosary as her husband began rum
maging and pulling things out of a watertight forepeak locker.
A
couple of minutes later he
handed
me
dry clothing.
By that time the rain had stopped.
a complete
A
brilliant
outfit of his
own
rainbow spanned
the river. Cold and shivering, I put on the dry clothing that was
many sizes too big for me. Mr. Brackett is about 6 feet, 4 inches
and weighs around 250 pounds.
By something of a near-miracle, the Brackett boat was not even
seriously damaged, although we had slammed bow-on into the
rocks and piling of a wing dam in a 20-mile-an-hour current. This
was the same current that carried me into the eddy below the
wing dam.
tall
We
livered
made
it
me to
into
Omaha
in about an hour.
The
Bracketts de
the Hotel Castle in their car. Bare-footed, in Claude
KANSAS CITY
OMAHA
167
s king-sized clothing, and spattered with mud, I was
undoubtedly the most grotesque living scarecrow ever seen in the
few minutes after I was assigned to
lobby of an Omaha hotel.
a room John Dahl called to say that he was at Stobda s marina.
With a suitcase full of my clothing from a locker aboard Transco
11, John hurried to the hotel. An hour later he and I were having
dinner and I was telling him my story. For us it was the end of a
somewhat eventful day in the voyage of Transco II across the
Brackett
A
North American continent.
17
fROM OMAHA
TO CHAMBERLAIN, SOUTH DAKOTA
Martin Strobda
s
marina in
the only one I ve ever seen where
Omaha
is
unique in
boats are stored
in a warehouse. No boat remains permanently in the water. Strobda
has complete mechanical facilities for picking up any boat in the
warehouse and setting it in the water, or plucking it out of the
that
it is
all
water and putting it away in the warehouse. Such boat-handling
operations are accomplished with amazing efficiency and speed.
The advantages of this type of marina operation are obvious. I
thought that hundreds of such marinas could undoubtedly be
profitably operated at locations on waterways everywhere. They
would flourish hi countless locations we saw where marinas range
from nonexistent to primitive and from mediocre to fairly good.
The haul-out operation is fairly simple and quick. A set of
slings are adjusted under the hull. The slings come from a crane,
which lifts up the boat and sets it down on a flat-bed motor vehicle
especially designed and built to handle boats between water and
warehouse. In the warehouse the boat is lifted again and set down
on her own rented cradles. The whole operation is completed in
168
CHAMBERLAIN
OMAHA.
minutes without so
much
169
as a chip of paint being
knocked
off the
boat.
With
kind of marina service
this
decided
available,
John Dahl and
I
we would probably
never have a better opportunity for
taking Transco II out of the water for a hull inspection. Our boat
went into the repair shop, where we found her hull completely
intact. We did need a few minor motor repairs, and we also had
the opportunity to make a few above-deck alterations we had
long
wanted for our own comfort and convenience. These activities kept
us in Omaha for two days.
Martin Strobda is an enterprising young man of thirty who
knows how to combine imaginative
What this is doing for him and his
active business partner,
is
ideas with business ability.
lovely wife, who is also bis
in
evidence at his marina and his
fully
busy retail store on the outskirts of Omaha s central business area.
His hobby is collecting outboard motors that have made their con
tribution to the history of boating.
outboards of yesteryear he showed me one that was
a 1925 model Evinrude, a smaller version
especially interesting
of the identical motors that drove the first Transco across the
Among
his
continent in 1925.
As
this old motor, wondering how we ever managed
such
a
keep
primitive thing functioning, I noted a small brass
riveted
onto
it. I looked at the
plate
inscription on the plate and
I
looked at
to
was surprised to see SOLD BY EMIL AARUP, LOS ANGELES, CALI
FORNIA. I told the amazed Mr. Strobda,
knew Mr. Aarup inti
mately for many years. He was a native of Denmark and a master
"I
boatbuilder.
He
sold the
first
Evinrude ever seen in California
and was a pioneer in Los Angeles in boatbuilding and
of small-boat chandlery.
He
boat business in Los Angeles today.
original Transco,
Transco
Our
II,
and
sojourn in
Boys Town, which
Omaha
is
He was
to that extent
John Dahl, and
retail sales
laid the foundation of the gigantic
I are
now
also the builder of the
was a contributor
to
what
doing."
gave me the opportunity to visit
only a few miles out of the city. I had long
also
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
170
famous city of youth, dedicated to salvaging
of all races, creeds, and
orphaned, homeless, and wayward boys
them to useful lives.
colors, educating, equipping, and restoring
Americans by the tens of millions have helped to finance its worthy
wanted to
visit this
The time I spent there was truly inspiring.
from Omaha to Sioux City, Iowa, the river
Missouri
the
objectives.
Up
is
very much the same as it is from Kansas City to Omaha. It is
the same old swift-flowing river with the buoy-marked navigation
channel. The same rich farmlands are on both sides of the river,
and the same sleepy
The
river, of course,
little
is
river
towns are scattered along the banks.
two states, Iowa and
the boundary between
Nebraska. Boating over this portion of the river became a bit
monotonous, after the hundreds of miles we had traveled through
and
riparian
terrestrial
scenery where there
is little dissimilarity
about anything.
The
bright spot in this portion of the Transco II journey
near Decatur, Nebraska, about
sighted two small boats coming
was
40 miles below Sioux City, We
down the river and soon learned
another escort. In the boats were Roger Hasek,
and
John Getz. Those fellows had the interest in
Gary Gunderson,
we
were
us and what
doing to come down the river from Sioux
City, sleep in their boats overnight, and then wait several hours
we had picked up
before they sighted us.
To me, traveling on waters that have a few other boats on
them is far more interesting than being all alone, although John
and I were used to going for as much as 100 miles without sighting
any other craft. So, naturally, we were happy to meet these fine
fellows
from Sioux City s Missouri River Boat Club.
Being thoroughly familiar with every foot of their local
geography, our Sioux City pilots led us past their city. They kept
right
on
for several miles to the west until I
began to wonder
where they might be going. I soon had the answer. They turned
into the mouth of the Big Sioux River, which is the boundary
between Iowa and South Dakota.
We
marina on the Iowa side of the stream.
went into the boat club
s
CHAMBERLAIN
OMAHA
There, to
make
171
the hospitality of the club a
little
more com
plete, Dahl and I were made honorary members of the Missouri
River Boat Club.
At Sioux City Transco II had reached the head of navigation
on the Missouri. There the buoy-marked navigation channel comes
an end. The commercial barges discharge their cargo and are
reloaded for the return voyage downstream. From Sioux City all
the rest of the way up the Missouri, past another 150 miles of
to
Nebraska shore
line, across the
two vast Dakotas, and for another
300 miles into Montana, we d have to find our own way through
an unmarked and uncharted river. In short, we d have to go up
this part of the river very much as Frank Wilton and I had come
down.
knew we were going to hang up on many a sand bar. The
landscapes would become enormous, the river distances majestic.
The marinas in this area, if any, are few, small, and scattered. We d
I
be traveling through country that is very thinly populated, where
it is often 100 miles or more between villages, and where a town
of less than 10,000 people, such as Pierre, South Dakota, looks
like
It
a metropolis.
would have been
folly to start
up
this
part of the Missouri
River late in the afternoon, so John and I decided to stay over
night in Sioux City. We d get an early-morning start and, with any
kind of luck, we would get to the Gavin s Point Flood-Control
Dam, about 5 miles above Yankton, South Dakota, before evening.
At the dam we were to meet Vernon Cecil, of The Inland Marine
We
had arranged with him by telephone
Corporation, Minneapolis.
and
trailer would take us around the
that he and a tractor truck
Gavin
s
Point
Dam from the Missouri River into Lewis
and dark
Lake.
Above Sioux City we didn t have
to go very far before John
the trickiness of navigation
of
about
a
lot
things
began learning
the
half
of
Missouri. For a long time
on the unimproved upper
I
d been
telling
him about
form one day and
currents that bounce
snags, sand bars that
vanish the next, falling cut banks, and swift
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
172
around curves, usually keeping the deepest water on the longest
route around any one curve. No doubt he sometimes thought I
was exaggerating the hazards that a boatman on the upper Mis
souri has to fight. Perhaps
when we
actually
came
face to face with
the problems he thought I had been too conservative. In any event,
I was pleased to see how quickly he began to learn these things
had had to learn years before he was born. He did an
excellent job of it, with the assistance of one advantage I d never
that I
had, Transco IPs sonic depthfinder!
What a tremendous
ment made! By watching
difference that marvelous
it
carefully we
little
instru
nearly always had a warn
ing of a sand bar ahead. Of course, it only tells the depth of the
water directly under the boat. If we were running in a deep-water
channel and the depthfinder suddenly began to show shallowing
water, however, we could usually change course and find the deep-
water channel again without going aground on a bar. Thus, we
managed to run up the river from Sioux City to Vermillion, South
Dakota, between breakfast and lunchtime. We bumped only three
sand bars; that is, we bumped, reversed the motors, and got going
again without the inconveniences and delays of going hard aground.
The depthfinder and learning how to use it made this possible.
At Vermillion we found a
small fleet of pleasure boats and a
They operate out of a marina that
group of enthusiastic boatmen.
being improved. They insisted upon showing us their town
and having lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant, a welcome res
pite from the withering heat.
is fast
On
the
first
at Vermillion.
Transco cruise Frank Wilton and I had not stopped
We
saw
it
only from the river as
we
shot past
on
the crest of a roaring 30-foot flood stage in the river that took
us from Pierre, South Dakota, to Sioux City in a single day. It
was a run of nearly 350 miles, the longest we made in any one
day in the whole 137 days it took us to get across the continent.
On that day of the big June flood we traveled at a speed that would
have made one of Henry Ford s old T Model Fords look like an
entry in a snail race.
Our one
big problem then
was
trying to stay
CHAMBERLAIN
OMAHA
173
was difficult to find it among hundreds of
square miles of inundated bottom lands. The flood-control dams
have put an end to that sort of a Missouri River flood.
Vermillion proved itself to be one of the most attractive little
in the river, because
cities in
it
the vastness of thinly populated South Dakota. Its show-
campus of the University of South Dakota, whose
landscaped grounds and modern buildings are surely a credit to
place
is
the
the state.
Going up the Missouri from Vermillion to Yankton and the
Gavin s Point Dam, it soon became apparent that we were face to
face with a condition
we had
not anticipated. The flow of the
river was at a low stage, and the overflow at the dam was regu
lated to the minimum required for the maintenance of the navi
gation channel below Sioux City, Iowa. Transco II was simply
running short of water. Our problem was one of finding enough
water to keep afloat and keep going over the sand bars and miles
immediately below the five widely separated Missouri River floodcontrol dams. Once above each dam we would have lakelike con
and easy going over majestic distances.
Conditions became steadily worse as we moved up the river,
bumping on and off sand bars from Vermillion to Yankton. Above
ditions
Yankton
it
looked for a time as
if
we d be
forced to lengthen our
portage to about 10 miles to get around the Gavin s Point Dam. I
was reluctant to make such a move. I decided to stay in the river
to the foot of the
dam,
if
possible.
By
dint of persistence
we
got
through a mystic maze of sand bars by bumping on and off numer
ous bars, sidling through narrow, shallow channels, and literally
with the depthfinder. It took us two hours to
"feeling our way"
make the last 5 miles!
As we came within about
with
field glasses
waiting for us. I
half a mile of the
dam
I took a look
and sighted Vernon Cecil with his tractor-trailer,
couldn t be sure at that distance, but it looked as
he had already selected a favorable pull-out point.
Unfortunately, he soon found out that his site was not adequate.
When he tried to drag Transco II out of the water his tractor dug
if
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
174
the earth. We found a telephone and called a heavyout from Yankton. Eventually we got the boat out
tow
truck
duty
of the water, drove around the dam, found a paved launching
ramp, and floated ourselves again on the waters of Lewis and Clark
itself into
Lake.
A
few years ago, South Dakota, essentially a prairie state, had
only a few small, natural lakes. Today it has three magnificent
lakes that almost bisect the state amidships from north to south.
The
lakes are as
man-made
as
a wig, but they have every appear
Noah built the first houseboat of
ance of having been there since
record.
Lewis and Clark Lake
is the only one of these three
water
to
be dignified with a name. The huge
tremendous bodies of
lake a few miles north of Pierre is "The Reservoir above Oahe
Thus
Dam,"
far,
and the other
lake, stretching
northward over South
kota for 100 miles from a point near the Nebraska state
remains "The Reservoir above the Fort Randall Dam."
Da
line,
Nothing could be more appropriate than the name, Lewis and
Clark Lake. The others could, with equal propriety, be given
names linked with the dramatic story of the Lewis and Clark
expedition. Why not such names as Coulter Lake for one and
Lake Sacajawea for the other? John Coulter was a sergeant with
the Lewis and Clark expedition. He was the first white man to set
eyes upon the upper reaches of the Yellowstone River; he also
known for many years as Coulter s
National Park. Sacajawea was the Nez
kidnaped into the Mandan tribe of the Dakotahs,
discovered the fantastic area
Hell,
now Yellowstone
Perce Indian
who became
girl,
interpreter for the
Lewis and Clark expedition and
from extermination.
repeatedly saved the entire party
On
Lewis and Clark Lake Transco
11,
Dahl and I could easily
Lake Champlain.
can
also be rough
They
visualize ourselves cruising the southern half of
Both lakes are equally big and beautiful.
and dangerous for small boats in stormy weather. Fortunately for
us, Lewis and Clark Lake on the August day when we saw it from
the Gavin s Point Dam was like a vast pane of glass for a distance
CHAMBERLAIN
OMAHA
175
40 miles, to the mouth
became the Missouri River
of about
lake
to
keep us
afloat over the
of the Choteau River. There the
again, with barely enough water
remaining 30 miles to the Fort Randall
Dam.
Vernon Cecil took us around the Fort Randall Dam as he had
taken us from the Missouri River into Lewis and Clark Lake. From
there we had 100 miles of easy cruising, again in near-perfect
weather, to Chamberlain, South Dakota.
At Chamberlain we found no small-boat service facility greater
than a mooring float and a launching ramp, which were under the
one and only highway bridge spanning the Missouri River in a
distance of more than 200 miles. As previously noted, the river
bisects the state amidships
from north
to south. Pierre, the state
in almost the geographic center of the state, and the
capital,
is the only one between Pierre and Yankat
Chamberlain
bridge
than 300 miles. However, there is
distance
of
more
in
a
ton,
is
scheduled ferryboat service at two points, and the Fort Randall
a highway on top of it to provide a land route across the
huge lakes and the river.
Dam has
Arriving at Chamberlain late in the afternoon, we saw that
Transco IPs fuel tanks were down to the last 5 gallons our emer
gency reserve supply.
"What are we going to do now?" asked John.
Having no plan we had to contrive one. In the torrid climate I
preferred to remain with the boat; I d sleep better there because it
was cooler on the river. John would get into town, a distance of
several miles, as best he could. He would contact Joe King, the
local outboard-motor dealer, and arrange to have Transco II
serviced in the morning.
I walked to the highway with John, discussing our plans as we
went. John soon had a ride into Chamberlain his benefactor was
a farmer with a trucldoad of pigs.
18
ACROSS SOUTH DAKOTA
fROM fORT RANDA U
TO
WE KEHEL DOGS
The tremendous unnamed lake
in South Dakota
created by the Fort Randall Dam comes to an end a few miles
above Chamberlain. From there to Pierre, with its population of
7,000, John and I would be entirely on our own for a distance of
more than 100 miles. Here we would be entering the so-called
Big Bend country, where the Missouri River makes a 38-mile
S-loop between two gigantic Indian reservations. The Lower Brule
Indian Reservation is on the west side of the river, and the Crow
Creek Reservation is on the east. The two reservations are roughly
the size of the state of Connecticut and appear on the map as
if dovetailed together by a river as crooked as a basket of snakes.
The river is between the reservations for approximately 80 miles
of the most desolate piece of country imaginable. There is very
little of anything in it except rocks and
unhappy Indians. It is one
of those God-forsaken pieces of real estate our ancestors so gen
erously gave back to the Indians.
I was familiar with the Big Bend Country from the first cruise.
It is exactly the same today, with the same wild, swift, cantanker-
176
KENEL
FORT RANDALL
ous,
177
and treacherous
through
river;
river tumbling through it. In 1925 we
got
wilderness
at a flood stage of water in the
jumbled
couldn t have hit a snag or a sand bar because there was
this
we
about 30 feet of water over
With Transco
II,
all
however,
such obstacles.
we were
going upstream against the
on a river that was very low. I knew what that
would be almost essential to keep out of trouble here,
swift current
meant.
It
because any kind of trouble could be little short of disaster.
There was no telling how far we might have to walk even to find
m
a telephone. For John Dahl I
sure the Big Bend Country was
something utterly beyond imagination, until he saw it from the
viewpoint of a seaman marooned on a desert island!
From Chamberlain we
up the river as far as the little Indian
town of Lower Brule, about 20 miles within the reservations, with
little difficulty. Beyond the Indian village, however, the river was
so low and so spread out among a maze of sand bars that it be
came difficult to find any channel where we had even a foot of
water under the keel. We would go up what looked like a promis
ing channel for a mile or more only to go aground; then we had to
got
we found one that let us through. We
from one side of the river to the other and
going around in circles that we probably traveled 4 miles for every
mile of progress we actually made. A paddle became better than
try another channel until
did so
much
cruising
the depthfinder for taking soundings.
Our progress was so slow that we spent the greater part of the
day getting up to about the middle of the 38-mile S-shaped loop.
About 2 miles above Willow
and
trees in the
middle of the
Island, a tremendous pile of rocks
river,
we
struck
some unseen, sub
merged thing, probably a snag or a rock.
Transco IPs hull passed over the obstruction without touching,
but our motor on the starboard side struck it and took the entire
impact. There
was a noise
we had broken a
like
a
blast,
and the motor raced
as
if
sheer pin.
With one motor we nosed Transco
spected the underwater parts of the
II onto a sand bar
damaged motor.
We
and in
found a
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
178
broken drive
We
shaft.
could get a
new one from Milwaukee,
if
we could find a telephone within 100 miles. We were in trouble up
and we could not have picked a worse place to
to our necks
into
get
it!
was then about 4 o clock in the afternoon. What to do? We
were a little closer to Pierre than we were to Chamberlain. We d
never get to Pierre pushing against the current with one motor. It
It
we
could even get back, downstream, to Chamber
Transco II was practically dead in the water, surrounded on
was doubtful
lain.
all sides
if
by hundreds
of square miles of a wilderness full of rocks
and Indians.
Scanning the shores with field glasses, I saw nothing but pieces
of river, sand bars, rocks, and trees. I was seeing essentially what
the
members
and Clark expedition must have seen in
amazement, I sighted a man standing on a rock
of the Lewis
1804. Then, to
my
He was fishing! If we could speak
with him, there was no telling what valuable information he might
be able to give us.
on the south
side of the river.
and we limped across the river.
I stepped
ashore and was soon in conversation with the fisherman,
who had
John took the
every
mark
controls
of being an educated, highly intelligent, and cultured
gentleman.
For reasons that
will
be revealed
soon, I
am
pledged never to
name
of this gentleman. Suffice it to say that he is a
and
surgeon in a large Midwestern city. I ll keep my
physician
tell
the
pledge by calling him "Dr. Smith."
Fortunately, I needed no introduction to Dr. Smith.
He had
me on television and had read about the voyage of Transco II
in the newspapers. He spoke to me by name as I approached him.
He listened sympathetically as I told him what a mess of trouble
seen
John and I had
fallen into.
it would help you,
Having heard my story, Dr. Smith said,
I can offer you a ride into Chamberlain. I was about to leave for
"If
home when
I
saw your
boat."
KENEL
FORT RANDALL
didn
"I
I replied.
auto,"
was possible
it
"What
come here by
a marvelous piece of luck for
us!"
said Dr. Smith,
might be possible to come here by
wouldn t want to try it over such roads as these Indians
I
car,"
have out here on
"But
"My
how
this
peninsula."
did you get here, Dr.
airplane
up on top
is
see it from here, but there
and it makes a very good
s
do not
hesitate to take, I
is
mesa,"
a large
but
fly
if
I asked.
flat
he
"You
replied.
piece of prairie
can t
up there
Piper Cub. I have no
you are willing to take a risk I
my
you to Chamberlain under one con
have to ask that you never reveal my name."
would never want to injure any man
I replied,
me
to
by doing me a favor I can never hope
willing
help
dition. I
"Dr.
ll
Smith?"
of the
airport for
license to carry passengers,
who
for any one to
it
"Well,
"but
know
t
179
ll
"I
Smith,"
to repay. If there is
perfectly willing to
The top
of the
any
risk to
me in flying with you,
it is
one
I
m
take."
mesa was about 100
feet
above the level of the
As
Dr. Smith, John Dahl and I walked through the short,
dry grass toward Dr. Smith s airplane, John jumped about a yard
in the air as a waving serpentine head came up out of the grass
river.
with a castanetlike sound with which I have long been familiar.
John had almost stepped on a coiled, 5-foot prairie rattlesnake!
I picked up a rock about the size of my head, intending to kill
the snake as I ve killed dozens of rattlesnakes in California and
other western states.
On
"Just
let
John
kill
handed him
he asked.
do you do
the rock.
the snake. I
"How
second thought I decided to
it?"
up
you re
step
that far, so
safe.
Then you dash
the rock
He
can t
strike
down and
crush
there within about 6 feet of him.
him."
John swung the rock, and that was the end of the snake, except
became John s souvenir. He waved his
for the string of rattles that
prize in salute as Dr. Smith
and
I took off in the plane.
Airborne after a surprisingly short run through the dry grass of
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
180
the mesa, Dr. Smith sent the little plane into a climb that soon
had us up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. The visibility was perfect
and we had a
fine,
birds-eye view of the Missouri River in the Big
Bend Country and all those hundreds of square miles of worthless
land we gave back to the Indians. I never saw so many rocks in
one place!
About
half
an hour
after leaving
Indians Dr. Smith set his airplane
which
port,
is
Dahl marooned among
down on
about 2 miles east of the
the Chamberlain
little city.
I called a
the
air
taxi,
and soon located Joe King by telephone.
Joe came to the hotel and we had a conference. The nearest
long-shaft for our damaged motor was apparently in Milwaukee.
went
into town,
d have to ruin a night s sleep for someone. I made
call to Ed Hanson, President of the Evinrude
Motor Company. He assured me that the wanted motor shaft would
be air-expressed to Chamberlain as fast as possible.
It
looked as
if
I
a long-distance
Now, how could Joe King and
I ever find
our way back to
pinpointed the spot with questionable accuracy on a
state map. Joe, who was thoroughly familiar with all the local
Transco 111
I
geography, thought he could get to it with a pickup truck.
Next morning Joe had an idea that seemed thoroughly
We
went
to the state tax offices
logical.
and asked to have a look
at the
From
those maps, each as big as
the top of a large table and showing an area of about 10 square
miles, we soon found the tip of the Lower Brule Upper Peninsula.
maps
of the state tax assessor.
I located the spot
where Dr. Smith had parked
his airplane. Joe
thought he could get to it with his pickup truck
over 100 miles of Indian horse-and-wagon roads that are little
said that he
more than
still
cattle trails.
Of
course, I
that until all these plans could
was not unmindful of the
fact
be coordinated and carried out John
Dahl would be marooned with Transco II and the Indians. He
knew what to expect, however, and he had ample food for a week.
If he ran short of drinking water, he could make the river water
safe
by
boiling
it.
FORT RANDALL
KENEL
181
Late that evening Joe King phoned me at the hotel to tell me
he had received the package of motor parts. Joe, his mechanic,
and I would be on our way to the Lower Brule Peninsula at 6:30
in the morning.
out there was like some kind of a nightmare. We had a
few miles of good road out to a little village called Reliance, where
The
trip
we headed north
is the Lower Brule
had a trail of sorts that ended a little
beyond the Indian village of Lower Brule. From there we prac
tically took off across lots, up hill and down dale, up and down
dry river beds, and around the hundreds of skyscraper rock piles
into the jumble of rocks that
Indian Reservation.
We
playground. Don t ask me how Joe King ever
out onto the Lower Brule Peninsula, because I got
of a veritable devil
s
found his way
seasick in an inferno of 110-degree heat and the jouncing that
threatened to loosen my teeth. I d seen this rock pile from Dr.
Smith
s airplane,
but the view from the ground was worse. I was
too busy trying to keep myself in the truck with both hands and a
seat belt to
pay much attention to anything until Joe rolled the
on the very spot where John Dahl had killed the
truck to a stop
rattlesnake.
We
found Transco
II,
anchored
bow and
stern a
few
feet off
shore, but John was not aboard. Joe King, his mechanic, and I
went to work on the damaged motor; an hour later the motor was
running again like a Swiss watch. John suddenly appeared on the
mesa. By his own account, he had fallen in with some friendly
Indians who could speak English. He had made quite a jolly time
of being a
We
marooned boatman!
Above
started off again.
the
Lower
Brule, South Peninsula,
the river began to narrow between shores of solid rock. The speed
of the current increased to 10 and 12 miles an hour. The sand
bars and the forests of snags were gone, however, so we had fairly
good going all the rest of the way into Pierre. We arrived there in
the evening, with a couple of hours of daylight to spare. There,
waiting for us at the Pierre Marina, was faithful Vernon Cecil.
He
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
182
was on hand to pull Transco 11 out of the water and set us afloat
lake above the Oahe Dam,
again on the tremendous, still unnamed
about 5 miles north of Pierre.
Oahe Dam began in 1956 and was being
completion when we passed through. Eventually, it will
Construction of the
pushed to
control the flow of the Missouri River to raise the water level
approximately 200 feet. When the reservoir above it is completely
filled, South Dakota will have another magnificent lake, extending
from near Pierre far into the vast Cheyenne River Indian Reserva
tion. It will store nearly
20
million acre-feet of water for flood
and the development of hydroelectric power.
going to be a boom in central South Dakota,
agriculture, real estate, and recreation. The state s
control, irrigation,
Obviously, there
in industry,
is
scanty population, which has been steadily shrinking for many
years, is probably due for expansion by as many families as can
can take the harsh climate, there
find
an economic foothold.
will
be ample living room for people far into the foreseeable
If they
future.
from the mouth of the Big
Sioux River, through the vast Dakotas, and into western Montana,
wherever Transco 11 stopped, Dahl and I had heard people talking
about light rainfall. The whole gigantic area was obviously in the
throes of a disastrous drought; the evidence of it was before our
All the
way up
eyes wherever
From
we
the Missouri River,
looked.
we saw millions
of acres of corn and other crops,
and withered for the want of water. Iron
ically, the ruined crop fields came right down to the river banks.
With water literally by the cubic mile flowing past them, I never
saw a single acre of irrigated land. To me, a Californian used to
seeing every available drop of precious water utilized, this was
the river
stunted, sun-scorched,
astounding.
If
Southern California could find a
new
source of usable water
equal to the average flow of the Missouri River at
would be able to
its
lowest,
it
irrigate millions of acres of now-useless land.
Up the Missouri from a point near the mouth of Okobojo
Creek,
FORT RANDALL
KENEL
183
got back into the water after the pull-out at Pierre. On that
Transco II had better going than
part of the river, to Mobridge,
we
I had expected to find. The reason was obvious. Because the river
has to stay in its channel between hills and rocks, the current is
speeded considerably. The sand bars are thus less numerous and
to keep moving. We ended the day s run at
nearer
miles
Fort Benton.
150
Mobridge,
Northward from Mobridge, however, the river became some
what of a nightmare. The channels were all broken up among sand
we had enough water
bars and were littered with a veritable forest of dead trees brought
down off the cut batiks.
managed to get through, but the going
We
was slow.
We
didn t get to Fort Yates, North Dakota, that day as
we had hoped.
Late afternoon found us running up the river at a point where
not sure whether we were still in South Dakota or had
we were
gone into North Dakota. We had not seen any kind of a
"road sign" since Sioux City, Iowa.
Looking toward the west bank of the
river
river with field glasses, I
sighted a small building that looked like a small water-pumping
I could see the roofs of
plant. Back of it, nestled among low hills,
and a church spire with a cross at the top. Our
it must be Fort Yates.
little
the
pumping plant where a gas engine without
Alongside
a muffler pounded our eardrums, we found a small-boat bay that
had apparently been dug into the river bank by men working with
shovels. The bay was too shallow for Transco II, so we tied up to
a couple of willow trees below the mouth of the bay.
Ashore, John and I started to walk toward the village along what
several houses
conclusion was that
of
appeared to be a wagon trail. The land around us was a jungle
black
of
swarms
biting
willows, and we were kept busy fighting off
gnats.
the road a few hundred yards we encountered four Indians
coming toward us on a wobbly wagon drawn by a team of scrawny
horses that would have made very good crow bait. The Indians
Up
could speak enough English to
tell
us that Fort Yates was up the
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
184
20 miles. The village we had seen was Kenel, South
Dakota, whose population consisted of about 200 Sioux Indians.
As John and I topped the hill at the edge of the village, a big
black dog with only one fore leg came bounding out and set up a
furious barking. That was the signal for all the rest of the Indian
dogs to come out and join the rare sport of threatening a couple
of strange men of an alien race. In seconds we had about twenty
of the mongrels milling about us, barking, growling, and baring
river about
their teeth.
"I
don t
don t
like the looks of
this!"
exclaimed Dahl.
Don t move! I ve been
Indian
before
and
I
don
t
want
to take any chances
among
dogs
with them. They could have hydrophobia! If we show fear or try
to run, they ll chew us into ribbons!"
As John and I stood there like a couple of statues, a man in
"I
either!"
I replied.
"Stand still!
clerical garb came walking rapidly down the path toward us. He
hurled several rocks at the dogs. He hit one and the dog howled.
Then the man of God rattled off a barrage of words in the Sioux
language. It sounded like Chinese to me, but the dogs seemed to
understand it. They quit barking and ran back into the village.
"Thank you, Father!" I said, as the
priest extended his hand.
m
saw your
happy to meet you, Captain Hogg," he replied.
boat coming up the river. Your companion, Mr. Dahl, I presume.
I
Father Alfred, Pastor of the Mission Church here."
This was by no means the first time I ve been befriended by a
Catholic priest in some remote outpost of civilization. They re
"I
"I
m
mighty handy fellows to have around in time of trouble. I hate to
think what could have happened to John Dahl and me if Father
Alfred hadn t been there to chase the brutes away. The timing
seemed
like
an act of God!
19
fROM KENEL
TO fORT BENTON,
MONTANA
In several more years the Sioux Indian village of
Kenel will be little more than a place name on old maps of South
Dakota. The Army Engineers are going to drown it in another
Missouri River lake that will put 30 feet of water over the land
where Father Alfred s church now stands. The Indians will be
to some new location by the Federal Government just as
thousands of families, Indians and whites alike, were relocated
when their homes and farms went under the present chain of manmade Missouri River lakes.
Having arrived at Kenel late on a Saturday afternoon Dahl and
I decided that our best place to eat and sleep was aboard Transco
II. I planned to get out early on Sunday morning, go to Mass with
the Indians in Father Alfred s church, and then return to the boat
and have breakfast with John. We would then go on up the river
moved
to Bismarck,
North Dakota, we hoped.
Slipping ashore quietly on Sunday morning, without awakening
John, I walked toward the village along a wagon trail that wound
through the jungle of river-bottom-land willows. But I didn t go a
185
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
186
quarter of a mile before I narrowly escaped a calamity that would
have made me a social outcast for at least a week!
There was a heavy fog as I came around a bend in the trail
where my range of vision was reduced to a few feet. Suddenly, I
there were five skunks almost at my feet.
froze in my tracks
There could be no argument about who had the right of way. The
and I knew it!
As I sighted the skunks and they sighted me, up came those
plumelike tails. They were starting to do a hand-stand, and I
needed no interpreter for their language. It s the skunk s way of
skunks always have
saying,
"I
m
not to be molested by
And you ve had
toward the
it
river. I
man
or beast, or
else.
.
.
.
ducked and ran as fast as I could back
stopped only when I was sure I was safely out
it!"
I
of range of any skunk s chemical warfare.
To avoid the skunks and get to Father Alfred s church I clawed
through the jungle of willows and came back onto the
only when I was sure I was safely beyond them. Many years
my way
trail
ago I had an argument with a skunk while quail hunting in Mis
souri. The skunk won, not "hands down" but tail up! One such
experience in a lifetime
A
is
far too
many!
much
the same anywhere in the
pretty
world. Nevertheless, I wouldn t have missed tiie one in Father
Catholic
is
church for anything. The little church was packed from
rail to doors with about 200 Indians, all of them in clean
Alfred
altar
Mass
s
overalls or
work
clothes.
Many
of them had
come
into
Kenel in
battered old jalopies from points as much as 30 miles in the back
country. Some had come on horseback. Instead of hearing Mass in
m
used to hearing
Latin and English, or in Latin and Spanish, as I
it at home, I heard it in Latin, Sioux, and English. I heard familiar
hymns sung
who have
in the Sioux language
talented
and
by
the Indian
men and women
gifted singing voices.
Returning to Transco II, I was on the alert for another possible
meeting with the skunks. Fortunately, I neither saw nor smelled
them. John and I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast,
and coffee. Just as we were about ready to shove off upstream, a
FORT BENTON
KENEL
187
men came down the river from Bismarck,
and
stopped to cheer us on. They assured us that we
sighted us,
would have nothing but a lot of easily navigable river from Kenel
boatload of young
to Bismarck.
Apparently a greater volume of water was being re
and Fort Peck Flood-Control Dams. The
leased at the Garrison
water had risen about a foot in the last two days and still appeared
to be rising very slowly. That extra foot of water meant a much
better river for
After
all
the
Transco
II.
bad going we had had above Sioux City
it
was a
great pleasure to get into a fine, long stretch of river where
Transco 11 could push along against the current at cruising speed
up on a sand bar every hour or two. We only
went hard aground on one bar in nearly 100 miles of cruising from
without getting hung
Kenel to Bismarck.
John was
at the
wheel
at
for lunch, so I asked him,
about 12:30 P.M.
"Are
you
We had not stopped
hungry?"
more so by the minute."
some lunch."
The words were little more than spoken when Transco II
bumped and skidded ahead for about 50 feet, shuddering to a
stop. We were as hard aground as we had ever been on any sand
"Yes,
"AH
I
am,"
right,"
he
replied,
I said,
s
"let
"and
getting
stop and have
bar in the Missouri River.
John and
we wanted
I
both had a good laugh over
to stop, didn t
we? This
is as
my comment, "Well,
good a place as any. Let s
eat!"
prepared the lunch. We sat
down and ate, taking our time about it and enjoying the food.
There was no reason for hurry. We were so hard aground that it
After setting
up the deck
table, I
would take at least an hour for the swift river current to cut the
sand out from under us and set us afloat again. We finished the
lunch. I cleaned the mess gear and put it away. By that time
Transco 11 was beginning to inch her way off the bar. I took the
wheel, started the motors, found a channel with about 10 feet of
water by using the depthfinder, and we resumed our cruise to
Bismarck.
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
188
When
I visited Bismarck as skipper of the
first
Transco, North
Capitol was a modest,
Dakota s
colonial-style, brick structure that
had rendered many years of service. In the 1930s a new building
was constructed that is a model for spending the taxpayers money
for pride
it is
a
and
vanity. It is
state capitol
both a skyscraper and a baronial
designed and
built to
make
all
castle;
other state
capitols look like tenements!
There are good reasons for building skyscrapers on Manhattan
s Loop, but in Bismarck, surrounded by end
Island or in Chicago
wide-open, empty prairie, a skyscraper is about
me as a funny paper hung in the Metropolitan
of Art. The people of the Flickertail State wanted a build
less miles of flat,
as incongruous to
Museum
ing that
is
would be
seen,
and they certainly have it the skyscraper
from a distance of about 30 miles.
easily visible in all directions
Far down the
river with
Transco II John Dahl and I sighted the
We thought it looked like a gigantic
twenty-five-story structure.
gravestone protruding from the prairie landscape.
Transco II had three hours of uninterrupted, full-speed cruis
ing to get to Bismarck after we sighted the state capitol. About
10 miles from Bismarck we sighted several small boats coming
toward us
another welcoming convoy.
The boats were led by Ed
and operator of a big
from Bismarck.
Ricker, live-wire outboard-motor dealer
marina
at
Mandan,
Mandan is
made friends
across the river
the place where the Lewis and Clark expedition
Mandan Indians during the late summer of
of the
1804. It was there also that Captain Lewis met the Indian girl,
Sacajawea, and employed her to accompany the expedition as an
interpreter despite the fact that she was visibly pregnant. Some
weeks later she disappeared for several hours and reappeared with
her papoose on her back. The diaries of both Lewis and Clark
make it clear that Sacajawea repeatedly saved every member of
the Lewis and
Indians. In
dark
expedition from being massacred by the
is a large bronze statue as a memorial
Bismarck there
to this Indian girl
who made an enormous
history of the United States.
contribution to the
FORT BENTON
KENEL
189
As one who has
traveled down and up the entire
navigable
the
of
Missouri
River in motorboats, I marvel at what
length
Lewis and Clark did. They were the first men to
go up and
down
the river in any kind of a boat. Their boats were rather
crude and hard to handle compared to those I used. I had con
tact with civilization all along the route;
Lewis and dark were
on
their
own
for
completely
nearly three years in a wilderness
inhabited by unpredictable Indians. What gluttons for
punishment
those fellows must have been!
Northward from Bismarck, for the 100 miles to Riverdale and
the Garrison
have to
fight
Dam, I anticipated a river where Transco
her way up every foot of the way. I was
to find this assumption to
abled us to go
up
be wrong.
A
II
would
delighted
slightly rising river
en
that part of the river without even
bumping a
and
nosed the
morning
boat onto a packed-gravel pull-out and launching ramp below
the Garrison Dam in the late afternoon. Vernon Cecil,
always
sand bar.
We
left
Bismarck
at 8 in the
dependable, was there with his tractor-trafler to take Transco II
around the dam.
There had been no Midvale when I came down the Missouri
with the original Transco. It is a town almost a small city that
was originally built to order as construction headquarters for the
builders of the Garrison
Dam. Today
it is
a spacious, low-rent
town for the small army of government employees
needed for the care and maintenance of the dam, control of the
flood gates, and operation of the hydroelectric plant now putting
residential
400,000 kilowatts of
electric
power
into a spreading
network of
high-tension lines.
Tired and hungry after putting Transco II into the water above
the dam, Verne, John, and I ate in a restaurant and checked our
selves into the hotel. Next day we planned to run the length of a
lake almost as big and beautiful as Lake Champlain. With favor
able weather and any kind of luck we would easily get to Willis-
ton,
North Dakota, by evening.
The
still-nameless lake that spans
most of the western half of
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
190
the huge state of North
Garrison
Dakota
is
known
as the
"Reservoir
of the
a lake 160 miles
in length and 60 miles across at the widest point. It has hundreds
of miles of shore line because its boundaries are about as in
dented as those of Missouri s Lake of the Ozarks, which, by the
Dam,"
or
"Garrison Reservoir."
way, has a respectable name.
that
it is
waterfall
man-made;
230 feet high
It is
It is
a reservoir only in the sense
much a lake as if Nature had
where men built the Garrison Dam.
it is
as
put a
Transco II, Dahl, and I were fortunate in getting through
North Dakota s great lake (or reservoir) on a day of near-perfect
weather. High wind could easily have delayed us for days; this
huge
"reservoir"
with
its
20
million acre-feet of water can kick
seas as dangerous to small boats as
up
any ocean.
About 4 o clock in the afternoon we went ashore
which
is practically at
in Williston,
the western end of the Garrison Reservoir.
We
stopped there only to load gasoline and pick up mail. With
several hours of daylight left we wanted to
push on into
tana. In another hour we sped past the mouth of the Yellowstone
Mon
River and checked ourselves into Montana by
recognizing Fort
Union on the north bank of the river. By cruising until 7 in the
evening we got to Culbertson, Montana, where
night a short distance below the highway
we
bridge.
of the exact spot where
to camp ashore in 1925.
Frank Wilton and
I
tied
up
for the
We were in front
had
set
up our
tent
Another day dawned, and we went up the Missouri
past Wolf
Point and a pull-out ramp below the Fort Peck Dam. We had
then reached the fifth and last of the Missouri River flood-control
We were within 300 miles of Fort Benton, which was the
end of the long Transco II voyage east of the Continental Divide.
As usual, Verne Cecil was on hand to meet us at the Fort Peck
Dam. He took Transco II around the dam, and we found an
excellent marina where we left the boat for the
night.
Fort Peck, like Midvale at the Garrison
exists
to
dams.
Dam,
serve the
only
dam. Verne Cecil thought there would be better hotels
KENEL
FORT BENTON
191
and restaurants in Glasgow, 16 miles away. Verne was right; we
found Glasgow a very attractive little city.
When I came down the Missouri from Fort Benton to the
present site of the Fort Peck Dam with the first Transco, the
river was a wild, treacherous thing tumbling through 300 miles
of
Montana s infamous badlands. For much
of that distance
on
both sides of the river there wasn t a vestige of human life. The
as they were, but numerous
badlands today are still just as
changes have taken place.
"bad"
There are
area.
One
river.
Many
now
quite a
bridge and two
number of secondary roads
into this
ferry lines get motorists across the
small flood-control dams have been built far above
Fort Benton and on
Gatlin rivers. These
its
tributaries, the
dams catch the
Madison, Jefferson, and
and let the water down
floods
in a fairly constant year-round flow. The biggest change, of
course, was brought about by construction of the Fort Peck Dam.
That gigantic task began in 1932; my father, incidentally, had
a part in its construction as the architect of some of the build
ings in Fort Peck.
Dam created a lake in Montana that is very much
Garrison Reservoir in North Dakota. This magnificent
body of water, Montana s largest lake, has hundreds of miles of
ragged shore line. It is 150 miles long and 45 miles across at the
The Fort Peck
like the
widest point. It normally holds 20 million acre-feet of water. Now,
where are all those terrifying rapids of the upper Missouri that
gave Lewis and Clark such a dreadful struggle and the 1925
Transco such a hair-raising ride? Drownman s Rapid, Lewis and
Clark Rapids, 17-Mile Rapids, and many lesser ones are all in
the bottom of the magnificent lake called "The Fort Peck Reser
voir"!
Transco II could not go from the Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton without at least one refueling. Vernon Cecil was to establish
a fuel cache for us a few miles below the mouth of Judith Creek,
which would be about midway for us along
this
300-mile run that
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
192
two days. In Glasgow, however, a telephone
be available to
call brought the information that supplies would
us at the ferries. That permitted cancellation of the fuel-cache
we hoped
plan;
to
make
in
Verne would meet us next in Fort Benton.
II came up the river to
days later, as planned, Transco
Fort Benton. There the pull-out situation was exactly what I
it thirty-four years earlier.
thought it would be from having seen
Two
Fort Benton
is
is
on the west
side of the river,
and the bank there
a near perpendicular, 20-foot jump-off into the
river.
In 1925, with the assistance of ten strong men, I had juggled
Transco down that embankment to launch her in the river. But
Transco II could not be dragged up. Some hours ahead of John
and me, Verne Cecil had taken a look
at the
same
river
bank and
decided to try to find a better place to pull out. He found a good
down the river. We pulled
spot at Virgelle, about 30 miles back
out there. Transco II was securely tied to the
and John Dahl
started off
on
trailer,
and Verne
the drive to Lewiston, Idaho, and
on the other side of the Continental Divide. I
went back to Fort Benton in a bus.
Fort Benton got started as a town shortly after the Civil War
and grew primarily because of its strategic location at the head of
the Snake River,
on the Missouri River in the days of stern-wheeler
steamboats. When the stern-wheelers vanished, the town almost
navigation
It was down to fewer than 1,000 people when I
in 1925.
there
over
stopped
In 1959 I found Fort Benton to be a thriving, modern, little
went with them.
some 2,000 people, rapidly coming to life again. The streets
there are many new homes and buildings. The
old Fort Benton Hotel, with its outside walls made from red
bricks dragged up the river from St. Louis in 1870, is still in
operation. In recent years an ever-increasing number of boats
have been trailered into Fort Benton for junkets down the Miscity of
are
now paved and
sourLThe town now also has quite a colony of retired cattle and
sheep ranchers who find Fort Benton a pleasant, picturesque town,
KENEL
FORT BENTON
193
steeped in American history and a good place to live during thendeclining years.
As the sole survivor of the
first
Transco cruise, returning to Fort
Benton was for me a delightful experience. This was the point
where Transco had started the eastbound cruise to New York City
from the east side of the Continental Divide in 1925. Now, with
Transco Ht I had come to the end of the westbound cruise in
waters flowing to the Atlantic Ocean. John Dahl and I were the
first men to arrive by boat in Fort Benton from New York City
all the way by water except for those hauls around the Missouri
River dams. I believe we were also the first to make it into Fort
Benton with an outboard boat after climbing the Missouri for
2,286 miles and nearly 2,500 perpendicular feet from the Missis
sippi.
Any
claimants?
20
fROM FORT BENTON
TO ASTORIA, ORECON,
AND THE PACIflC
Knowing the great scenic beauty of the country be
tween Fort Benton and Lewiston, Idaho, I wanted to see it from
the air. John Dahl thought he could see more of it from the roads,
so he made the trip over the mountains hi the truck with Verne
Cecil, Transco II on the trailer behind. Transco had made that
part of the eastbound journey in 1925 in a railway box car. Frank
Wilton and I came over in four slow freights that got us to Fort
Benton by way of Spokane, Washington, and Shelby and Great
Falls, Montana. Making the trip by air also gave me a weekend res
pite from traveling, which I spent in Great Falls, Montana s
largest city and one of the most attractive hi the state. I planned
to be in Lewiston about the time John and Verne would have
Transco 11 afloat on the Snake River.
On Monday morning at the Great Falls Airport I went aboard a
four-motored airliner for the two-hour flight to Spokane. What a
magnificent experience that flight was! In perfect weather I was
looking down from 16,000 feet, over the backbone of the continent
into the most spectacular mountains to be found south of Alaska.
194
FORT BENTON
ASTORIA
195
Some
of the snow-capped peaks rise to altitudes of 2 miles or more.
In that seemingly endless tangle of mountains and forest hun
dreds of big and little lakes sparkle like blue gems set in a breath
brown and green. The lakes range from such giants
as Flathead Lake, Montana, and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, to small,
taking field of
rocky bowls of melted snow perched on mountaintops, mountain
sides,
or in the valleys. To describe the scenic beauty of this area
from the air words are weak and near-useless. Then, too,
as seen
a photograph, because of its limited scope, cannot depict a vastness
human mind.
that staggers the
From Spokane
took another flight to Lewiston, arriving in an
Coeur de Alene, Idaho, and Pullman, Washing
ton. At Lewiston s Valley Boat Club I found John Dahl and
Vernon Cecil. They had just- completed the chore of setting
Transco II afloat on the Snake River.
For the first Transco there had been too much water in the
Snake River. For Transco II9 the river was so low that trouble for
us was easily predictable. If we could get down the Snake and into
the Columbia without scraping bottom a few times, I knew it would
be a miracle.
At Lewiston, when I saw how low and fast-running the Snake
hour
I
after stops at
River was, I decided to try to find a local man thoroughly familiar
with the river to help Dahl and me take Transco II into the Colum
bia. I also decided not to let Verne Cecil return to his family in
Minneapolis; we might have to be pulled out of the Snake if we
could not find enough water to get down. He went on to Pasco,
Washington, where he was to wait for a possible call for help. If
he received no
we would meet him in Pasco.
I made a live broadcast, telling
call,
That afternoon
the story of the
two Transco voyages, from a Lewiston radio station. It produced
precisely the result I hoped it might. I had little more than finished
when a young man by the name of Chuck Miller
an experienced boatman he had made several trips
As
telephoned.
up and down the Snake between Lewiston and the Columbia.
Knowing that we might be in danger he called to volunteer his
the broadcast
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
196
Dahl and
services to
me
as guide.
We promptly accepted his offer.
to the Lewis and Clark Hotel
Twenty-five-year-old Chuck came
studied the charts, discussed the projected run
that evening.
to be under way early in the morning.
down the Snake, and
We
planned
The Snake
is
anything but a slow river at Lewiston, and farther
flows much faster. In many places we found the
downstream it
current to be about 20 miles an hour. To maintain good steering
at least 10 or 15
control, Transco II needed a still-water speed of
miles an hour. If we could keep off the rocks, the run of 150 miles
into the mighty
how
realized
knew
all
Columbia wasn t going to last very long. We soon
we were in having Chuck Miller along. He
fortunate
the snaky tricks of the Snake.
rock-strewn, tight spot where
chutes. Often
where a
He
got us past
Transco II slid
down
many
a
steep water
past huge rocks, missing them by inches,
would have shattered our boat. We wore life
we sped
direct hit
jackets.
We
went down
tom. At each
at least
riffle,
Chuck went over
in
a dozen long
riffles,
swim trunks and
the side to walk the boat
life
often scraping bot
jackets,
down,
its
John and
motors
tilted
point we scraped bottom, heard water
discovered a small geyser shooting up
and
the
into
cabin,
gushing
had
one
if
some
as
inside
put a garden hose through the hull.
out of the water.
At one
We
were holed-through! If we could not stop that leak, Transco
II was doomed.
Dahl ducked into the cabin and stopped the leak temporarily
with the palm of his hand. Then he called out, "Chuck! Hand me
pulled a spark plug out of the tool box and
In
another minute John had stopped the leak by
over.
a spark
plug."
handed
it
Chuck
screwing the spark plug into the neat, round hole that was left
when the transducer of our radio depthfinder had been scraped
off the hull.
On both
sides of the
Snake River from Lewiston on down
to the
Columbia many farms made highly productive by irrigation began
to appear. Not so many years ago there was not a single irrigated
acre in this area.
Now
a vast
irrigation system is being
developed
FORT BENTON
ASTORIA
197
by the simple expedient of taking the water out of the river and
letting it flow by gravity to the lands farther downstream. This
irrigated land development undoubtedly accounts for the low
by Transco II. We just didn t have all
was going onto the flourishing, irrigated
stage of water encountered
that water because
it
farmlands!
Contrary to what seems to be prevailing opinion, Washington
and Oregon have adequate rainfall over only about one-third of
their area, that
west of the Cascade Mountains. These high
extending north and south across the two huge
tains,
moun
states,
force
the rain-bearing winds from the Pacific Ocean to altitudes that
chill the clouds and bring down the rain. Thus, we have the drippy
climate usually associated with the coastal areas, where popula
tion is most heavily concentrated, as in Seattle and Portland.
East of the Cascade Mountains, about two-thirds of each state is
very thinly populated. It is a semiarid land where no intensive
is possible without irrigation.
Ice Harbor, in Washington, about
agriculture
At
River from the Columbia, a huge
Dam
is
now under
20
miles
dam known
construction. It will soon
up the Snake
Harbor
as the Ice
drown
all
the Snake
River rapids, store a vast quantity of water for flood control and
produce hydroelectric power, and practically make an
of Lewiston. Commercial barges are now operat
"seaport"
irrigation,
Idaho
ing
on the Columbia from the mouth of
near the mouth of the Snake River.
will
lift
the boats
100
feet to
the
Columbia to Pasco,
A lock in the Ice Harbor Dam
an unobstructed waterway to
Lewiston.
For Transco II construction of the Ice Harbor Dam, then roughly
50 per cent complete, posed quite a problem. The uncompleted
dam closed about nine-tenths of the river. The remaining tenth was
a narrow opening left by the Army Engineers for the use of boats
until the locks can be put in operation. Temporarily, almost the
entire river was concentrated to go through the opening, thus
creating a water chute only slightly flatter than a 10-foot waterfall.
I hesitated to go down this slide without seeking the advice of
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
198
the
Army
Engineers.
They
said,
"You
should be able to
make
it
without any real danger. Just give your motors full throttle and
go right down the middle. You may take a little spray aboard,
but you
We
won t
hit
anything!"
and went down the chute in one big swoop; it was
like riding a boat down a roller coaster in an amusement park.
It was quite a thrill while it lasted. We took a few gallons of spray
tried
it
aboard in the breakers below. Still afloat after that wild dash that
was over in a few seconds, we were, for all purposes, practically
out of the mouth of the Snake. The long voyage of Transco II
was nearing
its
end in the mighty Columbia, where in 1925 the
trip across the continent
had just begun.
than an hour after getting safely past Ice Harbor Dam
out of the mouth of the Snake and speeding up the broad
Columbia to Pasco. There, at the fine marina and boat shop owned
In
less
we were
and operated by Ken Dyer, Transco II was hoisted out of the water
and taken into the shop. An out-of-the-water hull inspection and
possible repairs were advisable after the beating she had taken in
the Snake River.
To get Transco II into the best possible shape for the trip down
the Columbia Mr. Dyer assigned two of his most skilled men to
work almost around the clock to get us going again. With the boat
on a cradle the first thing they did was to drain off about 50 gallons
of bilge by removing the spark plug John Dahl had used to stop
up the hole where our depthfinder transducer had been torn off.
careful hull inspection revealed several gouges below the waterline
A
that
were serious enough to make repairs to the
fiber glass
advisable.
I
watched these repairs with the greatest of
interest. It
was
my
opportunity to see how it is done. It also made clear to me
one of the advantages of fiber-glass construction for small boats.
first
After drying the hull with a hot-air blower especially made for the
purpose, the men applied liquid fiber glass and waited for it to dry.
Then they smoothed off the patches with an electric sander. The
finished job
was so perfect
that
it
was almost impossible
to find
FORT BENTON
ASTORIA
199
the spots where the patches had been made. Similar repairs to a
steel or wooden hull would have been far more complicated.
At Pasco we
reluctantly said goodbye to Verne Cecil and Chuck
them profusely for the invaluable aid they had
Miller, thanking
given us. Without them and the many other people who helped us
along the way, Transco IFs voyage would probably not have been
a success.
The Columbia River today bears
little resemblance to the wild,
stream
that
the
original Transco had to fight her way
rapid-strewn
up.
The
rapids
and the
fierce current are
now
gone; the river
is
practically a series of big and beautiful lakes from Pasco to Port
land. The lakes drowned the rapids, and the dams that created
them ended the floods by giving
current and the lake water levels.
man complete
From Pasco to
control of the
the Pacific
we
cruised through a buoy-marked navigation channel through some
waters that are still recognizable as a river and the still-nameless,
man-made lakes. In Washington and Oregon, as in Montana and
the Dakotas, a
body of water of any size remains a "reservoir" if
building a dam. Simultaneously, any natural duck
recognized as a lake and is dignified by having a name.
men made it by
pond is
The "reservoir" above McNary Dam near Umatilla, Oregon, is
the boundary between Oregon and Washington for approximately
20 miles. It then extends northward into Washington for another
30 miles. It is about 6 miles across at the widest point and 1 mile
at the narrowest, the so-called Strait, near Hat Rock, Washington.
As every boatman knows, a lake of that size, whatever it is called,
can get about as rough as any ocean.
gentle wind was blowing when Transco II left Pasco at 6
o clock in the morning. From Pasco to the Walla Walla Boat dub
I rode with Mr. Dyer in his boat so that I could make pictures of
Transco II in action. I soon had the
The wind steadily
increased and the reservoir went wild. Both boats were slamming
A
"action."
and jumping off the tops of 10-foot waves. I soon found it
impossible to hang on and operate a camera simultaneously.
Mr. Dyer, knowing these waters thoroughly, admonished us
into
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
200
wind continued to blow, no small boat could expect to
an hour having break
get through The Strait safely. While we spent
fast at the Walla Walla Boat Club, however, the wind began to
that, if the
lull.
John and I decided to try to run The
ful beating for about 10 miles.
and were greeted by
McNary Dam.
The single lock
float
lift
fairly flat
at the
lock in the world.
We
Strait.
We took a dread
through The Strait
water for about 20 miles to the
finally got
McNary Dam
No wonder
is
said to
took a
it
97
the Columbia River! It raises or lowers boats
be the highest
lot of rapids out of
feet.
Moreover,
so perfectly engineered and efficiently operated that
locking through takes only fifteen minutes. It barely gave me time
enough to go over the top of the lock, make a few pictures of
the lock
is
Transco II going through, and get aboard again by going down a
100-foot ladder near the lower end of the lock sill. With three
cameras slung around my neck, it was like going down a ladder on
the side of a ten-story building.
"Look out for the spiders!" a lock employee called out to me as
I started this dizzy descent.
deep
feet
slot in the face of the
down
I
The
steel ladder
concrete wall.
had never seen so many
was
By
spiders
set into
the time I
and such a
a foot-
was ten
tangle of
webs in any one place before. The ladder and the slot were
simply festooned with webs and crawling with a dozen species of
spider
big and
little
made some
spiders.
Thank God
had
was not a
for the study of spiders I
years ago! I recognized
all
of them; there
had to hang onto
that ladder. They were crawling all over me, and my hands were
literally wrapped in bandages of spider webs when I got far enough
dangerous one in the
down the
As my
lot.
Spiders or
no
spiders, I
ladder to drop off onto the open deck of Transco
feet hit the deck, I
ered off in
all
II.
shed a shower of spiders that scamp
little beasts with an aerosol
directions. I finished the
bomb and swept them up as they died.
Below the McNary Dam we had about 6
miles of easy river
navigation to the marina of the Umatilla Boat Club at Umatilla.
FORT BENTON
201
ASTORIA
There we stepped ashore onto the soil of the seventeenth and last
state we would go through on our trip. We were in Oregon!
Transco II had accomplished our objective of cruising from New
York
to
ways for
down
Oregon on the waters
slightly
of North
American inland water
more than 5,000 miles! The remainder
of the
the Columbia to Portland, Astoria, and the Pacific
could be contemplated as
little
more than a
pleasure cruise
trip,
Ocean
on one
of the nation s most scenic rivers!
Now, from Pasco I had telephoned my wife in Barflesville. I
told her we would arrive in Portland about 4 o clock in the after
noon on Saturday, August
31.
"You
better fly to Portland to
morrow."
From
the
McNary Dam
to the
mouth
of the river at Astoria,
miles, the mighty Columbia flows through a land of
scenic beauty that beggars description. Coming up the Columbia
with the original Transco, I had been so busy fighting the rapids
more than 250
that there
was
Transco II
little
was an
time for enjoying the scenery. Going
down with
Where
the rapids
entirely different experience.
used to be we now have the Dalles Dam, the Bonneville Dam, and
the John Day Dam. The locks and lakes made a pleasure cruise
out of this route for Transco II. Just thirty-four years earlier it had
been a nightmare.
The tremendous
river breaks right through the towering
Cascade
Mountains to form the famous Columbia River gorges. Geo
this situation is similar to the famous Iron Gate of
graphically,
flows through the crack
Europe, where the Danube River
a few million years through the Carpathian Alps.
it
cut in
At Hood River, Oregon, the surface of the Columbia is only
about 200 feet above sea level. Yet, on both sides, the terrain
Up, up, and up it goes through tre
mendous forests and into the midsummer snow of such peaks as
Mount Hood, rising 11,245 feet on the Oregon side of the river.
rises abruptly
from the
Simultaneously, Mt.
river.
Adams, on the Washington
view, towering 12,307
side, is in full
feet into the heavens. In the vastness of
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
202
the Columbia River lakes, with the snowy, sky-piercing landscapes
their shadows into those titanic gorges, I was all too well
casting
aware of my own small
size.
Larry Barber, had
our
impending arrival in Port
done a bang-up job of announcing
land. "Great Caesar s ghost!" I exclaimed after sighting the water
The
marine editor of the Portland Oregonian,
Oregon Centennial Exposition grounds in Portland.
that waterfront! It looks like Hollywood Bowl on a
front at the
"Look
at
concert
night!"
A
later we had Transco II alongside the landing
the gunwale to sweep a tiny, blue-eyed, blonde
over
float. I hopped
woman into my arms. For the next couple of minutes I was
few minutes
oblivious to the popping flash bulbs, the television cameras, and the
I were together again,
roaring cheers of 3,500 people. Ruth and
Kansas
since
after the weeks of separation
City.
When we
us from
all
calling out,
We
broke the hold, the cameras were pointing at
directions. Larry Barber, acting as a spokesman, was
finally
"Do
that again, please!
We need a few more
pictures."
were happy to comply, and the picture-taking went
full half
Our
on
for a
hour.
visit to
Portland turned out to be about forty hours of red-
carpet hospitality and entertainment at the exposition grounds, at
the Multnomah Hotel, and at Lee McCuddy s beautiful marina
on the Columbia.
Early on Tuesday morning, September 1, I put Ruth aboard
a bus bound for Astoria and then went back to McCuddy s Marina
to begin the last day of the Transco II cruise. It was to be a jaunt
of 110 miles down the Columbia to Astoria and the end of the
mighty river, the starting point of the first Transco cruise from west
to east across the continent thirty-four years earlier.
At McCuddy s Marina Transco
II took aboard the only pas
senger carried over any considerable distance
George Reynolds, a personable young
Louis, wanted to
make
on the
entire journey.
man we had met
this part of the trip to get
in St.
a story on our
FORT BENTON
ASTORIA
203
use of fiber glass his firm manufactures chemicals that go into
the making of fiber-glass boats.
About 20 miles down the Columbia below the Longview-Kelso
Bridge (which had not been there when Transco came up the river
in 1925) we sighted a U. S. Coast Guard patrol boat. It had come
up from Astoria to meet us, just to be sure that no mishap might
befall us in
about the
last
hour of our water journey of 5,286
We
were very grateful for that Coast Guard courtesy be
miles.
cause a strong wind was starting to blow into the river estuary
from the Pacific Ocean. There, too, the river widens out to 10
miles and
it
was
getting uncomfortably rough.
Guard vessel escorted us into Astoria s busy and
crowded East End Boat Basin Transco II came alongside the docks
to be greeted by a welcoming throng of Astoria citizens. First
with a hearty handshake was Harry Steinbock, the Mayor of
As
the Coast
who said "Captain Hogg, welcome back to Astoria!"
shook hands with the mayor, Ruth appeared on the scene,
escorted over the dock by Dr. Ed Harvey, a research scientist with
Astoria,
As
I
seafoods laboratory. Both of them appeared to be excited
and a little short of breath. I soon learned that Dr. Harvey had
Astoria
just
my
s
plucked her off the Greyhound bus from Portland. I looked at
watch. Transco II had come down the river faster than the bus
had come down the highway! She had covered 110 miles in exactly
four hours, while the bus had taken four and one-half hours to
cover a similar distance on land. At the dock we went through the
usual half-hour session with the reporters and photographers. We
then adjourned for lunch to the John Jacob Astor Hotel, where
the welcoming delegation just about
We
spent two
full
filled
the dining room.
days enjoying the rousing celebration the
people of Astoria had planned for us. If John Dahl and I had been
Lewis and Clark returning to Astoria, the hospitality could hardly
sincere. We were made honorary
a
citizens. We received
couple of gold medals. We were wined and
dined. We took Transco II to a reconstructed log fort on the site
have been greater or more
204
TWICE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA BY MOTORBOAT
of Fort Clatsop at the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River, where
the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition officially ended
their history-making journey to the Pacific and spent the winter of
starting the long trek back to St. Louis.
I also consented to take Transco II out into the salt water of the
1805-06 before
Pacific Ocean, with an escorting salmon fisherman as
caution hi waters that were dangerously rough.
We
a safety pre
went
several
miles out into the salt water, then returned and fished for salmon
over the Columbia River Bar.
Tired, slightly dizzy from the hours of jouncing over ocean
waves, and splattered with salt spray, I wobbled into the lobby of
the hotel late in the afternoon lugging a 26-pound salmon in one
hand and a 28-pounder in the other.
"What made you do that?" asked Mr. G. R. Haines,
proprietor
of the hotel.
"Boatman s holiday!"
of
it."
replied John.
"We
ve only had 102 days
John Edwin Hogg spent many months in carefully planning the
trip of Transco II. One of the most important tasks he faced was
the compiling of a list of equipment that would be essential to the
cross-continent voyage. If he took too much gear, the boat would
be overloaded, and he and his mate would barely have elbow room
aboard the cruiser. If he left out some essential item, the entire
success of the venture would be jeopardized. After much exacting
planning and revising, his list of gear was complete.
Before Transco II left the 79th Street Boat Basin hi New York,
she was awarded the safety decal of the U. S. Coast Guard Aux
iliary. After inspecting the craft from bow to stern, officers of the
most thoroughly equipped"
Auxiliary described her as one of
men
and families who might be
For
had
seen.
ever
cruising
they
planning part of the trip for themselves, on the following pages is
a rundown of the equipment Hogg finally selected for his historic
"the
trip.
The brand names and manufacturers of the various items are
make the shopper s task easier. This hi no way
included here to
constitutes
an endorsement of these products, nor should
inferred that these products are
"the best"
207
it
be
in their respective fields.
APPENDIX
208
Outboard motor tool kit.
One pair American Bosch Anna windshield wipers.
One pair manual windshield wipers.
Two
Two
Sinko battery boxes.
Plas-Tex rubber buckets.
One mop.
One deck brush.
Two
sponges.
One Perkins bilge pump.
Two
hand bailers.
Wall Rope Works
Fairline
400 feet
of
"Colorope"
line.
Twelve spark plugs.
Two Electric
Autolite Batteries.
One Raytheon radio direction finder.
One Raytheon DE 122 Fathometer.
One Raytheon Ray 19 radiotelephone.
One Admiral transistor radio.
One Bernz-O-Matic propane stove.
One lantern.
Three Seatronics tachometers.
One Portable Light Co. horn.
One Falcon Alarm Co. pressure horn.
One set of flares.
One net bag.
One Ketcham & McDougall compass.
One Ketcham & McDougall barometer.
One Ketcham & McDougall clock.
One Ketcham & McDougall speedometer.
One Portable Light Co. spotlight.
One Kohler portable flashlight.
One Detroit Stamping Co. boarding ladder.
Two Freepack
"Boat Doc"
first
aid kits.
Four buoyant cushions.
Four American Pade & Textile Co.
One ring buoy.
life jackets.
APPENDIX
209
Two Ansul Chemical Co. fire extinguishers.
One pair of Bausch & Lomb 7 x 35 binoculars.
Two Danforth anchors.
One Worthington Marine boat hook.
One pair of Smoker Lumber Co. paddles.
Full set of charts.
One chart case.
One chart board.
One chart rule.
One chart divider.
One protractor.
Two log books.
One set of cooking utensils.
One folding knife.
One floating knife.
One cabin fan.
American Chain & Cable Co. Steermaster controls.
Sterling Products Co. fenders.
One Coleman portable ice chest.
One Coleman thermos jug.
Convertible top and cockpit canopy by Champion Sailmakers.
Telescope Folding Furniture Co. deck chairs.
Four utility bags.
Two Hettrick sleeping bags.
Two pillows.
Two pillow covers.
Two mattress covers.
Two Remington electric shavers.
One Bell & Howell 16mm motion picture camera.
Two Minolta Autocord
reflex still cameras.
"L"
Leeds Luggage Co. vinyl luggage.
sets of clothing, including Sperry Topsiders deck shoes
foul weather gear, and McGregor swimming trunks,
Complete
and
sweaters,
and both
light
and heavyweight
shirts
and
slacks.
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