This is the story of the canoe, that singular American artifact so little changed over time. Featured here are canoes old and new, from birch bark to dugout to carbon fiber; the people who made them; and the adventures they shared. With features of technology, industry, art, and survival, the canoe carries us deep into the natural and cultural history of North America.
The oyster industry of the East Coast relied on dugout canoes to navigate the rivers of Connecticut during the nineteenth century. This photograph dates to 1872 and depicts a dugout next to an oyster house near New Haven.
Old-growth cedar trees are immense and can provide the materials for several boats. In this photograph, four different canoes are being hewn from one red cedar log at Olympic Loop, Queets River, Washington. Photograph by Dale O. Northrup, c. 1930.