Let’s Form A Posse And Head Up To Hells Canyon To Pick Up Those Old Wooden Boats!


In September Woody Boater broke the news of a multi-boat barn find over in Idaho which consisted of a few classic Chris-Crafts and two very cool, very different Century boats. Fellow Woody Boaters Don & Molly Hardy from McCall Boat Works in McCall, Idaho reported the barn find to us… You can read the original Woody Boater story by clicking here.

The boats were stashed away in a barn (and around a barn) in a remote area of western Idaho near a place called Hells Canyon, a 10-mile wide canyon located along the border of eastern Oregon and western Idaho not far from McCall, Idaho.

Hells Canyon Recreation Area - Image Courtesy USDA Forest Service

Folks out here in the west do things a little different, and now that the dust has settled after the original barn find, Don Hardy decided it was time to “Form a Posse” and head up to Hells Canyon to pick up those old wooden boats… They left McCall and went towards the old bridge that crosses the Salmon River, just north of a town called, Riggins, ID.

Just follow the sign that says “Hells Canyon National Recreation Area” and then hang a right at Cow Creek Road… You can’t miss it…

When you come up on a fellers place that has a sign out front that says “This Place Is Protected By The Good Lord and A Gun” – just keep driving towards the canyon in the distance…

And sure enough, if you drive towards the canyon you will eventually see the sign for Cow Creek Road… Hang a right and head for Lucile, Idaho…  and follow the old road passed the Post Office.

For any of you guys in the Posse that had one of those Breakfast Burrito’s this morning, they have a Port-a-Potty just outside the Post Office in Lucile…

Once you pass Lucile, make your way across the old bridge and start climbing up the twisty mountain road.

Follow the road until it gets narrow and you reach the snow level…

As the road gets narrow and slippery from the melting snow, make sure you hug the uphill side of the road (or path) because it’s a long way down to the canyon floor.

Finally Don’s Posse made it up to where the boats were stashed, and they quickly loaded them up. A 1946 Chris-Craft Sportsman (U-22) with a 350 Chevy engine…

A 1942 Century Seamaid 17′ Barrel Stern with a stock engine…

A 1967 Century Sabre 19′ with T-Top and Chrysler Hemi engine and also a 1946 Chris-Craft Deluxe 17’with a stock engine.

When the old boats were hooked up, and Casey (one of Don’s lead guys on the Posse) said “Let’s mount up and get these boats back to the shop in McCall and don’t anyone be stopping at the Saloon in Riggins, that’s a rough place…”

OK guys, “Check your breaks – If you have them”…

And they made their way back down from the mountain… Don’t look down! Just keep driving…

And everyone made it back to Lucile with the boats in one piece.

Then, just a few days later, Don and a partial Posse traveled down to Santa Ana, California to pick up a load of Philippine Mahogany for a few of his resoration projects back in Idaho.

While they were there, they picked up this rare 1940 Chris-Craft Custom (Barrel Back – #48739) originally named “Everan Zephyr” for a customer restoration that’s planned to start next summer. The word is that the original name was actually painted on by the Chris-Craft before it left the plant (as per the Hull card), and was never sanded off… Very cool.

While in california, They also picked up two Lycoming marine engines in Lomita, and also had to stop in and see fellow Woody Boater Al Schinnerer at Calfornia Classic Boats… As always he was hard at work!

Thanks to Don & Molly Hardy and their Posse from McCall Boat Works for sharing this unique story with us here at Woody Boater.

By the way, the name “Hells Canyon” has a maritime origin… The USDA Forest Service has a great website and lot’s of interesting information about this neck of the woods, click here to learn more.

According to Carrey, Conley, and Barton, in their book Snake River of Hells Canyon, most of the early explorers referred to the gorge as Box Canyon or Snake River Canyon. The first reference to Hells Canyon appears in an 1895 edition of McCurdy’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. In discussing the voyage of the steamboat, Norma, the author writes; “she then bound off, swinging into midstream, and like a racehorse, shot into Hells Canyon…” The name was used by the Mazama hiking club in their 1931 bulletin. Bailey’s book, Hells Canyon, was published in 1943. Senator Neuberger of Oregon used it in several publications in the 1930s.


17 replies
  1. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:


    Below is hull card info for 48739. It did not come with a name from CC factory. I also knew of that boat from a number of years ago and it was in NY.

    48739 1940 23 CHRIS-CRAFT K 20978 7907 YALE JR RM-7 LEATHER PIGSKIN GENESEAO NY 5/16/1940
    There are currently 49 of the original production of 113 1940 19′ Customs surviving. That is 43%

    • Don
      Don says:

      Hi Don,
      We will look further into this name of the boat, from what the seller and I found it was the original name. But will go into it a little deeper to be sure. if you find any thing, please foreward the material. The new owner wants it to be as per factory. Tahoe standards. One of our other customers
      has 48734, remember this ordeal Don.
      Many thanks, Don and Molly

  2. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    PS, If it was named on the hull card I might have missed that info at the time of recording.

    Have a great day and glad to see it get restored. Hope Hardy gets the customer to do the correct Pigskin and orange!!! I had hull 48672.

  3. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    Now that I think back I may actually have some history on that boat!! The owner from the 60’s-70’s restored it and we had a long conversation about it. He even sent me a very nice letter and pics of his mother on the boat. She passed away shortly after they finished it and the last picture taken was of her on the boat.

    I hope my memory is not getting this story confused with another barrel. I’ll go to the “good ole” paper files and look.

    After 20 years of Barrel Back research I’ve forgot a lot of my own stuff without looking. Memory recall must be going…

  4. Texx
    Texx says:

    Thanks for commenting Don, and I will just leave the information that Don & Mooly provided to us for the story, so we don’t confuse out readers.

    However, we can update as required.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Chad – I think Arlon is across the state, about 180 miles from McCall, near Pocatello… But probably worth the trip to visit with Arlon. He’s a cool dude and a true Gentleman.

  5. Rick
    Rick says:

    You sure Noah’s Ark isn’t up in those hills somewhere? I thought Idaho was flat with corn, or is that Ohio? Always get those confused. You wouldn’t get me up on those roads with no guard rails and ice. Not even in summer in a half-track and a parachute. You guys definitely deserve your find. Fantastic pictures.

  6. 51Resorter
    51Resorter says:

    Great finds, love the 42 Sea Maid!
    What is the company name for Philippine in Santa Ana, CA? I need African for my Resorter.

  7. brian
    brian says:

    Wow, these guys managed to pry the boats away from the Unaboater after all.

    Did he need to hawk the boats to purchase more paper or a laptop for his manifesto?

    Do we know who the hoarder was? What’s the deal with the individual hiding the boats in the hills like he/she did? How were they found in the first place?

    Details ??!!!

    What an adventure.

  8. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!! What a story…and Don & Molly sure have been non stop….have no idea how they do it!!! What finds for them.

  9. matt
    matt says:

    The trailering on the utility trailer with wood as support is genus. Pure genus. Dang, I would never in a million years thought of that..

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      It’s a perfect Woody Boater dish… A Barrel Back served up on a bed of Philippine mahogany.

      “Excuse me, do you have any Epifanes to go with that?”

  10. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    Find a hull number on the 1942 Century Seamaid yet?

    A few things to know about that boat before restoration! Should have 4 step-pads, also it has an incorrect windshield.

    • Don
      Don says:

      There is still alot of adventure, here out West, We enjoy every day, somethings come thru the shop that is hard to believe, but it is Real. Stop buy some time and we can share it together. There is more coming!!!

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