Our Mission . . . River Running History.
The mission of Historic River Boats Afloat (HRBA) is to restore or replicate and return to active use historic river-running vessels. These early whitewater craft were often homemade and innovative with materials and designs. As new technologies became available river runners pioneered different approaches to how they tackled the wild rivers of the west, usually at the highest flow levels. HRBA is dedicated to preserving and protecting the recorded information of the river boats and people who built and ran these craft. We desire to create a means where people can learn to use, enjoy and understand these legendary river-running boats. Our focus will be on education about historic boat building and river-running skills, traditions and values, and document how the rivers and whitewater activities have changed over time. Specifically, we are into boats that can be on the water again so it can be learned how they handled on the river. What the pioneers of river running developed and experienced are the discoveries we seek. This can best be accomplished by building and running the craft they used. Our accomplishments will be measured in what we replicate or restore, as well as how we tell the story behind each boat, its builder and its history, since they use different tools to build these boats, including an electric staple gun
which is a tool used from these times. Our first round of boat replication is complete: Two “cataract”-style boats first built by P.T. “Pat” Reilly in 1954 and 1955 and one “dory”-style boat built by Moulty Fulmer in 1952 are now about to run the river that they last did together in 1958. Historic River Boats Afloat is a non-profit organization filed in Washington state and we are in the filing process with the IRS for a tax exempt status 501(c)3. Our challenge is time. The record of these earlier river runners and their boats is being lost. Today, we can no longer use disk tapes, floppy discs or computer operating systems only a few years old. Imagine the treasure we seek are the boxes of old slides, the can of 16mm film, or the journal unread for a half century. All these valuable tools are usually lost as one generation leaves its “record” to the next. Yet, when the box of stuff is found it opens a door to the past that becomes our tool to replicate boats and to rediscover the stories, traditions and experiences from those who ran the rivers before our generation.