Wooden Boats and Curving Blue Lines
Leslie C. Stewart-Abernathy
Popular Series No. 07
vi + 68 pp., 39 illus.
(plus s&h and sales tax within AR)
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This slim book, developed from popular public lectures given by the author over a number of years, presents a brief history of watercraft and water transport in Arkansas from earliest days to the end of the era of wooden-hulled vessels, and a quick overview of the archeological remains of dugout canoes, barges, flatboats, keelboats, and steamboats that represent this history. Always interested in boats and underwater archeology, Stewart-Abernathy had his first chance to excavate boat wrecks at the West Memphis Ghost Boats site (3CT243) in 1988, when the Mississippi River fell to record low levels and exposed an array of wooden wreckage on dry land. Following that extraordinary fieldwork, he continued to visit and investigate wreckage sites exposed along the riverbanks, and to collaborate with other regional experts, particularly including cultural resource firms. As a result, he was able to compile for the public this short introduction to the kinds of underwater cultural resources that reveal and record our transportation history on the watercourse “highways” that were so important for trade and travel before the advent of railroads and the modern interstate.