Rushton and His Times in American Canoeing

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This is the story of J. Henry Rushton, a native of northern New York State who became world famous as a builder of canoes. He and his craft were at the center of notable events in canoeing history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Rushton was born in 1843 in a small settlement on the edge of the Adirondack wilderness. In his thirties, seeking to cure himself of "consumption" in the mountain air, he built a boat for a trip into the woods. Tradition has it friends asked Rushton to build boats for them, too, and his career was started.

Rushton was fortunate in his patrons. In 1880 he was approached by the outdoor writer, George Washington Sears, better known by his pen name 11Nessmuk.'' A frail man, Nessmuk asked Rushton to build him an exceptionally lightweight canoe. Nessmuk's solitary tours of Adirondack waterways in the 10 3/4-pound Sairy Gamp set a new trend in sports life. His letters in the journal Forest and Stream did much to popularize unguided travel through the wilderness and to spread Rushton's fame.

Many illustrations, including two previously unpublished sketches by Frederic Remington, help tell the story here. Five appendixes include Rushton's catalog descriptions of his construction methods; a reprint of an article by Nessmuk, an account of the Rushton canoes extant today, drawings and specifications of seven of these extant canoes, and a lengthy discussion by Harry Rushton of his father's methods of craftsmanship.

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Syracuse University Press
Data de publicació

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