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c. 1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat 'Floodwood'

* Chosen 2013 Best Rowing Craft at A.C.B.S Finger Lakes Show *


1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat

1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat 1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat

The Maker

E.G. Ricketson and 5 of his employees in Bloomingdale, NY about 1882
Group of guides ready for a trip. Only two are known: Jim Cross, who was 6'6", seated on the cushion, and Orf Crary, seated No. 5.
James Cross was born in Morristown, VT during the summer of 1844. Immediately following his service in the Civil War he went to work for Paul Smith at his hotel on April 5, 1866 employed as a guide.

Jim was a very tall man (said to be 6'6" in moccasins) who was widely respected for his mechanical aptitude and craftsmanship. He made the first telephone used at the hotel and was able to command up to $25 each for his fishing poles during the 1870's and '80's, an extraordinary price at the time.

While living on Easy Street in Paul Smith's, he was known to have made up to 20 guide-boats for both other guides and his own use. Even guides who had previously built their own boats, eventually called on Jim to craft replacements as his wood working talent was considered second to none. He died in 1908 at the age of 64 and is buried at the St. John's cemetery in Paul Smith's.

Note: We chose to make an attribution as to the maker of this boat. The two of us spent more than a month conferring with the late Dr. Stephen Sulavik on the origin of this boat. To begin the process we looked closely at the characteristic design features of known makers in the area. Given the remote and relatively undisturbed location of this boat when it was uncovered the adage that ‘these craft tend not to stray far from the places of their birth’ seemed to apply. Furthermore, it shared many elements unique to Paul Smiths, Bloomingdale and Saranac Lake guide-boat makers of that time. Unfortunately, the 9 makers for whom clearly identifiable extant examples of their work remain were eliminated during the course of our analysis. This left 3 builders and just one in the Paul Smiths area. Dr. Sulavik, having seen one other boat identical to this (and believing at the time it was made by James Cross) advised us that we could make this attribution with "a reasonably high degree of confidence".

Floodwood Statistics:

15 feet 6 inches
Beam (maximum):
38 inches
11.5 inches
Bottom board
width (maximum):
9 inches
72 lbs.
Seating Capacity:
3 Adults
Solid cast brass
Boot plates:
0.20 Copper Sheet
Oarlocks and pins:
Solid cast brass
Hard Maple, 7 feet 8 inches
Hull Shoes:
0.50 steel with #6 brass screws at 5/8 inches
Interior hull - Flat dark green, Exterior hull - Flat black,
Decks, cleats, yoke, oars and seats - clear Epifanes varnish (9 coats)

Eastern White Cedar
Red Spruce
White pine
Red Spruce stumpwood
Red Spruce stumpwood
Seat and Yoke Cleats:
Black cherry
Black cherry
Red spruce

1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat 1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat

1878 James Cross Adirondack Guide-boat

The Judges Score:

Just for fun, here is a copy of the judges' score sheet (note the nice comment on the bottom)

Restoration Details:
  • 6 lineal feet of planking was replaced on the port side shearstrake from the bow back toward the center. The remainder of the hull planking is original with no patches.

  • 7 ribs were replaced with spruce stumpwood having grain alignment better than the original. All other ribs are intact and were not removed.

  • The cherry used to recreate the seats (from the original patterns) was taken from a door known to be at least 110 years old. They have not been stained or otherwise colored aside from the first 3 varnish coats cut with turpentine.

  • The decks were recreated with quarter sawn white pine taken from a tree found at the northern tip of Maine. The grains are book-matched and very closely approximate the originals (which are available for inspection).

  • The hardware is mostly original. The stern stemband served as the mold positive for a new brass casting of the bow band. Brass screws were replaced as needed. The seat hinges and buckles are period.

  • All natural wood elements have 9 coats of Epifanes clear varnish. The hull has been painted with Interlux Brightside that was flattened at a ratio of 1:1 to replicate the semi-gloss sheen found with paints from the late 1800's. 4 coats were applied to the interior and exterior hulls over 3 coats of primer.

Defects Still Present:

  • There are no known defects.

Price: $17,500

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