Friday, May 16, 2014

Hiding in Plain Sight

As much as we enjoy the canyon, this trip had a somewhat different goal. I wanted to see the original Susie Too to see how close we came with the replica that I helped build. The original resides in the Park's boat collection, carrying the Music Temple name that Martin Litton gave it when he started using the boat for commercial trips in the canyon.

The collection is now housed in one location but is not on public display. The nondescript warehouse located amazingly close to the heart of south rim tourist activities gives no clue to the treasures inside.

Inside, twelve boats are stored under cover on bases designed to retain their shape. Since I was specifically interested in the Susie Too, that's where I started with the helpful museum staff.

 In general, I think we got it right. The safety rope and mount points were smaller than we thought, and the back seat was dimensioned differently, although not significantly.

The most noticeable difference was in the boat's rocker. On the replica, the hull has a 4' flat spot in the middle which matches written documentation. The original clearly has a much longer flat area, extending aft from the center of the boat. It wasn't immediately clear if this was a result of years of storage or if it had been modified /repaired at some point.

It was especially nice to note that some of the "modifications" resulting from our recent river trip were simply trying to keep the replica as close to the original as possible. It too had numerous areas of chine damage.

I really enjoyed the quick visit and hope that someday this entire collection will be able to be displayed. It represents an incredible history of exploration, boat development, and adventure.

They had two early canvas canoes and two early kayaks in the collection as well - none that I would care to use in a replica trip!


  1. I had so much fun crawling around on the floor under music temple's cradle and so glad you got the chance to see her and spend some time with her. We did a good job building her. Now to get her back on some whitewater again.