Thursday, April 7, 2016

An Allagash River Souvenir: Mid-to-Late 1800s Penobscot Paddle

Blog reader, Thomas Penniston has graciously sent in details of his recent paddle acquisition from an estate in California. A mid-to-late 1800s beavertail-bladed paddle with an elegantly carved step style grip commonly seen on Penobscot paddles (see similar examples here and here).

Length: 75.5" long
Max Blade Width:  7 3/8" 

What makes this one special is that the blade is adorned with decorative drawings commemorating a 300 mile canoe trip taken in 1916 on the Allagash River in Maine. The understanding is that this old paddle belonged to a local Penobscot guide hired by the group who either sold them the paddle, or presented it to them to adorn with memories about their trip.

One side of the blade features a scene with a party of canoeists encountering some whitewater. The drawing is labeled "In Cross Rock Rapids". Each of the passengers in the canoes are also identified with tiny script below but some of the names are tough to make out. The last canoe in the sequence features a standing stern paddler, something only an accomplished guide would be doing. The paddle's overall dimensions of 75.5" long with a hefty  7-3/8" blade width would certainly make it suitable as a user for paddling standing up.

The upper portion of the blade as well as the other side features what looks the full list of names all written in different handwriting. The members of the canoe party likely signed their own names once their adventure was complete.

There are few more images of characters, including the image of someone landing a monster fish (relative to the size of the canoe). It seems exaggerating the fishing on a canoe trip is a timeless tradition as well.

Many thanks to Tom for permission to repost some of his photos and providing additional details. The full set of pics with further closeups can be seen on his PictureTrail gallery.

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