Folklife on the McKenzie River

by OFN Graduate Research Assistant Bruno Seraphin

OFN is involved in a multi-year effort to document traditional culture on the McKenzie, in particular the work of fishing guides.

This includes wooden drift boat building, legends and histories, stories about hatcheries, fishing, fly tying, dams, floods, the old white water parade, hunting and trapping, lodges, food traditions (Dutch oven cooking), and pretty much anything about this river and the people who live with it.

We are partnering with Ken Engelman of the McKenzie River Reflections newspaper and UO Professor Katie Lynch’s ongoing MyMcKenzie project.

I spoke with Randy Dersham, founder of the online McKenzie River Drift Boat Museum. Plywood drift boats such as this have a simple, elegant design, and are built for navigating rough waters. They are used around the world, but were invented right here on the McKenzie by Veltie Pruitt, in the early 20th century.

The project is off to a great start!

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