New Items - Ephemera, page 2


Steamboat graphic on a "BAGTIQUE" showcasing a fictional product named ANTIQUE CONCEPTS LTD in 1983

This is the graphic of a steamboat at a landing from the front of a "BAGTIQUE" printed on fabric showcasing a fictional product named Old South Tobacco designed by Judie Pieper for her company "Antique Concepts LTD" of Waukesha, Wisconsin Copyright 1983


PAGE 272

The Neva is a river in northwestern Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga through the western part of Leningrad Oblast (historical region of Ingria) to the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland.

Despite its modest length of 46 miLES, it is the fourth largest river in Europe in terms of average discharge (after the Volga, the Danube and the Rhine).

The Neva is the only river flowing from Lake Ladoga. It flows through the city of Saint Petersburg, three smaller towns of Shlisselburg, Kirovsk and Otradnoye, and dozens of settlements.

It is navigable throughout and is part of the Volga-Baltic Waterway and White Sea-Baltic Canal.

It is a site of many major historical events, including the Battle of the Neva in 1240 which gave Alexander Nevsky his name, the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, and the Siege of Leningrad by the German army during World War II.

The river played a vital role in trade between Byzantium and Scandinavia.




Published by A. Constable & Co. 1824
Engraved by W.H. Lizars


STRECKFUS STEAMERS pin in John Miller's collection



From the Library of Mississippi River book collector is Book on Floods and one of the enclosed maps

Folded map bound in between pages 378 and 379 in original book from the Library of Dudley Bell Priester 1923 - 2017 with his EX LIBRIS label inside the front cover

In Priester's obituary his collection of non fiction about the Mississippi River is mentioned. Perhaps we will be able to locate the bibliography he compiled.

Dudley grew up a block away from the Mississippi River and lived most of his life within sight of it. This affinity led to his becoming a major collector of Mississippi River nonfiction books and to a favorite lifetime project of compiling a bibliography of them all.

55th Congress 3rd Session SENATE Report No. 1433


Dudley Bell Priester, 94, of Davenport, Iowa, passed away peacefully at his home on Monday, January 23, 2017. He was inurned in Oakdale Memorial Gardens. A celebration of his life will be April 28, 2017 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at The Outing Club, 2109 Brady Street, Davenport, Iowa.

Dudley was born Jan. 18, 1923, to Oscar F. and Helen (Bell) Priester in Davenport. He attended Pierce Elementary and Sudlow Junior High Schools in Davenport, and the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He earned a degree in Civil Engineering at Princeton University prior to enlisting in the Navy. He served his country in World War II as a lieutenant in the Seabees, a construction brigade. After active duty in the Philippines, he returned to Davenport in 1945 to join the Priester Construction Company, which had been started by his father and uncle in 1919. He would eventually become president of the company.

Dudley married Jean Elizabeth Hansen on Mar. 15, 1947 in Davenport. The Ides of March this year would have been their 70th anniversary. As a member of the Naval Reserves, he was called to serve his country a second time when war was declared on Korea in 1950.

At home, Dudley also served his community admirably, focusing on the arts and education. He was a board member and president of both the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and the Davenport Art Museum (now the Figge Art Museum), as well as a board member and vice president of the Putnam Museum. Also active in the private sphere, he served as president of The Outing Club and the Town Club.

In his professional life, Dudley was especially proud of the Priester Construction Company having built the Modern Woodmen of America headquarters on the riverfront in Rock Island, the Davenport Public Library designed by renowned architect Edward Durrell Stone, the Scott County Courthouse, Temple Emanuel Synagogue, both Northwest Bank towers, and the Priester Building, which was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its Mid-Century Modern style architecture.

Dudley was an avid collector. He collected stamps as a boy, and after joining the local Blackhawk Stamp Club in 1950, rarely missed a meeting until recently. His philatelic specialties were Scandinavian and British Colonial, as well as German inflation covers. He inherited a love of antique collecting from his mother, and assembled an extensive collection of antique iron, including a Civil War cannon, a steamboat anchor, and many unique decorative pieces.

Dudley grew up a block away from the Mississippi River and lived most of his life within sight of it. This affinity led to his becoming a major collector of Mississippi River nonfiction books and to a favorite lifetime project of compiling a bibliography of them all.

Dudley was also an athlete. At Lawrenceville and Princeton, he was captain of his wrestling teams and went undefeated in his weight class of 126 lbs. As an adult, he was an avid life-long golfer, playing at the Davenport Country Club from boyhood on, and later at Crow Valley Country Club. He was a skilled tennis player, playing until he was 85, and was high-scorer frequently in his Outing Club bowling circle.

Wearing his characteristic bow tie, Dudley was a charming public speaker, who could rise to any occasion and will be remembered for innumerable wise and heartfelt toasts. His family will miss him especially in this capacity.

Dudley had a great love of opera, and would always listen to the live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons, even bringing the radio outside to accompany him as he worked on chores. For decades, he and Jean drove to Chicago for Lyric Opera performances, staying at the Union League Club. He especially enjoyed Verdi and Donizetti, with Lucia di Lammermoor as one of his all-time favorites.

Dudley and Jean took some memorable trips to California, Europe, and even to the South Pacific. One of the most treasured memories of his five children is the family trip to England, Scotland and Wales in 1961. The visits to Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Stonehenge (before there were barriers), and the Lake District instilled in his children a love for literature, art and history. They attended two Shakespeare performances and the musical hit, Oliver. Four of his children became English majors, and the fifth an art history major.

Dudley had a special love for the pets in his life, particularly the first family dog, Henry Robert, whom he brought home from the pound because Henry "had smiled at him," Liberty Bell (Libby), a golden retriever, and many beloved cats including Buster, Fred, and most notably, Tom.

Those left to honor Dudley's memory are his wife, Jean; children, Bill (Marissa) Priester, New York City, Nancy (John) Hayes, Davenport, Ted (Emilie) Priester, Davenport, Charlie (Poppy) Priester, Seattle, Washington, and Mary Priester, Portland, Oregon; grandchildren, Helen, Jane, and Susannah Priester; Sarah Hayes, Marion Karl, John Hayes; Krista Stovall; Claire and Joseph Papas; great-grandchildren, Lily and Joaquin Stovall; and many other family members and friends who have been a part of Dudley's life.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Oscar and Helen Priester, and his brother, Peter.

Memorials may be made to the Quad City Symphony Orchestra or the Figge Art Museum. The family is grateful to Dr. Edwin Motto and Hospice Compassus for their skilled and comforting care.

Mark Twain


Sam Clemens/Mark Twain by Charles Santore

This stylized portrait of Sam Clemens/Mark Twain by Charles Santore is exceptional. I only adjusted the colors of our hero's hair and flesh tones for this version. Santore painted the excellent original that is on the front of the dust jacket for THE UNABRIDGED MARK TWAIN, Published by Running Press 1976.

Copyright 1976 Charles Santore


Mark Twain 1905 with a Pilot House by Cheryl Harness from 1998

To make the attached I used Albert Levering's caricature of Mark Twain for LIFE magazine in 1905 combined the pilot house and name in capital letters from "Mark Twain And The Queens Of The Mississippi" published in 1998 by Cheryl Harness.


Cigar Box Label Mark Twain HUMORISTS

Cigar box label featuring Mark Twain, Bernhard Gillam and Joseph Keppler.
Biographies of Gillam and Keppler below:
Bernhard Gillam, (born April 28, 1856, Banbury, Oxfordshire, Eng.—died Jan. 19, 1896, Canajoharie, N.Y., U.S.), American political cartoonist noted for his influential cartoons associated with the U.S. presidential campaigns of the late 19th century.

With his parents Gillam immigrated to New York in 1866. He left school early and worked as a copyist in a lawyer's office before studying engraving. His first caricatures were published in Leslie's Weekly and the New York Graphic, and their success determined his career as a political cartoonist. After working with the cartoonist Thomas Nast on Harper's Weekly during the presidential campaign of James A. Garfield in 1880, he was hired by Puck, a pro-Democratic comic weekly, in 1881. Although he was a Republican, he contributed in part to the defeat of James G. Blaine by Grover Cleveland in the election of 1884 through a biting "tattooed man" series published in Puck, in which Blaine was shown tattooed with his evil deeds. The first of the series, "The National Dime Museum," caricatured many political figures in addition to Blaine and became one of Gillam's and Puck's most famous cartoons.

In 1886 Gillam became part owner and director in chief of the pro-Republican comic weekly Judge, which he developed into a powerful political voice. During the presidential campaigns of 1888 and 1892, Gillam's cartoons depicted the dangers of the free-trade policy of the Democrats and the benefits of Republican protectionism. Gillam's career was cut short when he died of typhoid fever.

Joseph Keppler, (born February 1, 1838, Vienna, Austria—died February 19, 1894, New York, New York, U.S.), Austria-born American caricaturist and founder of Puck, the first successful humorous weekly in the United States.

Keppler studied art in Vienna. Following the Revolution of 1848, his father emigrated to the United States and settled in Missouri, where Joseph joined him in 1867. Two years later he established his first humorous weekly newspaper in St. Louis. It failed, and in 1870 he founded Puck, a German-language weekly that was also short-lived.

Keppler then moved to New York City, and by 1875 he was drawing cover cartoons for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. He broke with Leslie in 1876 and founded a second German-language Puck, which was so successful that in 1877 an English-language version was begun. The English version lasted until 1918, 22 years longer than the German. Initially Keppler drew all the cartoons for Puck, and, although later many other artists contributed, his influence remained strong. His cartoon "Forbidding the Banns," published on behalf of anti-Garfield forces in the Garfield-Hancock presidential campaign of 1880, attracted widespread attention.


A Mark Twain Lithograph from a Cigar Box Label customized by Dave

A Mark Twain Lithograph from a Cigar Box label

The face and hair of Clemens in the original lithograph was unacceptable so I scanned the frontispiece to Twain's round the world travel book FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR (1895) which was made from a photograph of Clemens in the deck chair and retrieved the head and hair from it then assigned a flesh tone to the face and a blue gray value to the hair and mustache. Replaced the graphic of the ocean with a color photograph of the sea with sunlight shining on it. To finish this I closely cut along the outline of the vignette that the graphic was in off the cigar box label in Photoshop, cutting it out and placing it over the neutral white background.





Drawing of the Ferry TRIMBLE by J. Franklin Brown, 1968

Drawing of the Ferry TRIMBLE by J. Franklin Brown, 1968

Sidewheel Ferry
Way's Packet Directory Number 5451
Built in 1895 at Madison, Indiana
Owners: C.L. Melcher; J.D. Taylor; Clarence Hisle; Captain John W. Hughes, D.T. Voiers; Harry Voiers; John Niehouse; Captain George W. Monroe (1921).
Operated between Madison, Indiana and Milton, Kentucky on the Ohio River.
In 1918 she san in the ice at Madison, Indiana.
She was dismantled at Shawneetown, Illinois circa 1930 and many of her parts went into building the gas boat MARGARET J.
The opening of the bridge in 1929 ended ferry service between Madison and Milton.





Capstan from the Steamboat CYCLONE

Capstan from the steamboat
Manufactured by American Ship Windlass Co.
Providence, Rhode Island in 1890

Salvaged after the 1907 fire that Destroyed the CYCLONE and preserved near the Mississippi River in Wabasha, Minnesota
Photos by Dave Thomson taken in 1991

Way's Packet Directory Number 1399
Sternwheeler built at Stillwater, Minnesota in 1891
121 X 22.6 X 4
Engines 14's - 5 feet
Ran Wabasha - St. Paul 1900 -1907
Captain Milt Newcomb.
Burned on the ways at Wabasha, Dec 2nd 1907.

Illustrated Glossary of Ship and Boat Terms
J. Richard Steffy
The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology
Edited by Ben Ford, Donny L. Hamilton, and Alexis Catsambis
Print Publication Dec 2013
A spool-shaped vertical cylinder, mounted on a spindle and bearing, turned by means of levers or bars; used for moving heavy loads, such as hoisting anchors, lifting yards, or careening vessels.

Hannibal Ephemera




Three custom post card designs by Cap'n Dave

Attached scans of some of other post card designs that I've been making for merchandising in Hannibal. The Hagoods' grandson in law, Barry Messer had been using some of my photos on post cards for years which inspired me to come up with my own custom renditions with photos I had taken long ago and lettering from old maps circa 1854 and 1895 plus the license plate "topper" which I had chrome plated and from which I got the words "Mark Twain's" from. Barry had all the attached printed by Vista Print and they're at the BP convenience store on Mark Twain Avenue that is managed by "Janna" whose last name I don't know. I covered the printing costs of the cards.


Eric Dowdle's fantasy painting representing Hannibal, Missouri. The artist compressed this but recognize many landmarks that residents and visitors will recognize in this idealized rendition of a nostalgic rivertown.

Dowdle has also painted many other towns and cities in the U.S.A. and in foreign countries around the world.

Eric Dowdle folk artist
Dowdle Folk Art (Gallery)
1280 W 200 S
Lindon, Utah 84042

Eric has been creating art for over twenty years. He started painting in his early twenties, parting ways with college after one year, to "go make something happen". Making things happen is how Eric does things; painting, exploring, marketing, and working day and night to expand the business, and his collection of over 200 paintings. Today, his work is distributed throughout the world. His painting research travel has taken him everywhere, from Kenya and China to the South Pacific and Europe.

Despite all of this, Eric's heart is in Utah. His favorite location is his Utah home, where his wife and five children busily run a mini-farm of 100 chickens, 7 peacocks, a bunny and two barn cats. He has a vast collection of Utah paintings that were published into a book in 2006.

Eric's upbringing started in rural Idaho on his family's farm. He is the tenth of twelve children—ten of which are sturdy boys. Many of the stories of his youth are reflected in his art—a chicken stuffed in a mailbox, a young boy surprising his mom with flowers from the neighbor's yard, children bravely walking a fence line, or Boy Scouts playing pranks on each other.

The Dowdle family moved from Idaho to Wyoming when he was ten years old. After his graduation, Eric's family moved to Massachusetts. It was there that he found a deep love for folk art. These early travels strongly contributed to Eric's love of culture and adventure.

Steamboat People

Page dedicated to Lewis Verduyn CLUTHA RIVER in New Zealand Geographic 2003


Steamboat Times. A History of Navigation on the Mississippi River System
Created and maintained by Lewis Verduyn
Copyright 2007
Key words: Steamboat, Sidewheeler, Sternwheeler, Packet Boat, Riverboat, Mississippi River, Missouri River, Flatboat, Mackinaw, Keelboat, Raft, Fur Trade, Santa Fe Trail, Mark Twain, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Hannibal, St. Louis, Cairo & New Orleans.
Distribution: Global

I was shocked and deeply saddened to discover that Lewis Verduyn passed on at age 60 on the 21st of August 2019.

Lewis was a wonderful correspondent and his e-mails were always full of tales of his life, times and many adventures as a river rafter and conservationist. I will miss him and wish that we had met in person.

Message from Lewis 23rd December 2018:

Hello Dave,
It's one of those clear sky and calm mornings here, and I sure hope we get a breeze later, otherwise it will be mighty hot. Tomorrow, Christmas day, the temperature is supposed to be 31Celsius (equivalent to about 88 degrees Fahrenheit) but unofficially, down the river valley, it is usually several degrees hotter. I must get outside before it heats up. When the days are like this, I like to pump my water from the river into my tank in the mornings (using my old circa 1930s electric windmill water-pump), and I also like to check my plantings including my vegetable garden.
I hope all is well with you, and that you have a very pleasant and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
Your friend on the riverbank,

Published in Southland Times from Aug. 21 to Aug. 24, 2019

Sadly Lewis passed away at his home in Luggate; aged 60 years. Much loved youngest son of Catherine and the late Jacob, loved brother of the late Roger, a much loved nephew, uncle, and cousin of all his family in New Zealand and Holland. In accordance with family's wishes a private cremation has been held.

Memorial service for Lewis Verduyn was held at 2.00 pm Saturday 5th of October 2019

The Red Bridge River Park Trust invited friends of Lewis to a memorial service for him at Reko's Point on the Clutha River on Saturday 5 October at 2 pm.
The memorial paid tribute to the life of a friend, teacher and visionary. Lewis' ashes were scattered at the river and there was an opportunity for those who knew him to say some words. Attendees were invited to bring with them a cup for Manuka Tea.

SEP - OCT 2003


Drawing on a vast catchment in the mountains west of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, the Clutha River—New Zealand's largest by volume flows through the parched country of Central Otago before pouring into the Pacific Ocean. It delivers precious irrigation water to the region's burgeoning horticultural enterprises and turns the turbines of two of the nation's largest power stations. But problems with sedimentation in the hydro lakes and a boom in property development along the Clutha's banks are beginning to threaten the river's integrity.

Lewis Verduyn had a dream: a hankering to step back in time. He had in mind a voyage by log raft in the wake of the pioneer timber rafters of the Clutha River. His inspiration lay in the 1860s, when a small group of timbermen with a penchant for mixing business and adventure established a profitable but highly dangerous delivery route from the forests of today's Mount Aspiring National Park to the treeless and timber-hungry settlements of Central Otago. The link between the two areas was the Clutha, the largest river by volume in the country.

Because the Clutha is only sporadically buckled by rapids and hairpin bends, the men saw it as a reliable, high-speed conveyor belt. They would buy logs from sawmills on the Matukituki and Makarora Rivers, lash them together into rafts, then pole their unwieldy craft into Lake Wanaka. There they would combine the rafts into large floating islands of timber, rig them up with square sails and, helped by the prevailing north-westerly winds, row their way across the lake to the source of the Clutha River.

It was here, at the point where the lake funnels into a single powerful waterway, that the conveyor belt began. The men would split their timber islands back into smaller log rafts, outfit these with rowlocks and eight-meter sweeps and push off into the current.

From its outset, the Clutha flows so fast that the men could make their 80 km journey in a single day. They had to be wary of major rapids such as at Devils Nook, a notorious dog-leg bend, and the Boiling Pot, where the current warps on entering Maori Gorge. The river could smash a raft like a matchstick toy at these places, and the men often preferred to walk the banks and ease the rafts on hemp ropes down the most difficult stretches.

Landing near Cromwell, they would dismantle their craft and pile up the timber for sale. After an overnight stay at the local hotel, they would head back to Wanaka on foot, carrying their ropes with them. That same afternoon they would construct another set of rafts from the logs that awaited them at the outlet, to be ready to push off the following dawn. Three Clutha trips a week could be made, and although several men lost their lives to the river, the financial returns were considered worth the risks.

"It was strenuous work," wrote one of those good keen men, named George Hassing, "but we were young . . . and delighted in it."

Lewis Verduyn was young, too, and an experienced rafting operator to boot. His plan was simple: build a log raft, retrace the timber route and then extend the voyage all the way to the sea. He wanted to taste the hardships and relive the perils of the pioneers. The river would not disappoint him.

His first five-ton Oregon-pine raft, named DESTINY was swept away by a flash flood only two days into the trip and was never seen again. Lewis was undeterred. He built a second raft—seven logs and four braces tied together with 200 metres of natural-fibre rope—which he poled and sailed from Makarora to Wanaka. Then, after some dry-dock repairs and strengthening, he navigated DESTINY II out of the lake and into the Clutha.

Over the following days he and his crew poled, pulled, pushed and steered the lumbering eight-by-three-meter craft around innumerable obstacles on their journey to the sea. Sometimes they simply hung on for dear life as the river gave the four-and-a-half-ton plaything a bucking-bronco ride.

The raft was repeatedly stranded on shoals and snagged by sunken trees, called "strainers" in white-water parlance. It capsized more than once, to be righted by skillful maneuvering into the rocks and current, or with the help of local farmers, using horses or tractor. It was lifted by crane over the Roxburgh dam (the Clyde dam had not yet been built), and turned into a submarine after hitting a giant "stopper" wave in the Cromwell Gap, when the river closed over Lewis, spread-eagled on the deck, for what seemed like a breathless eternity.

Finally, 440 km and 15 river days after leaving Makarora, Lewis nursed his battered raft into the Pacific Ocean for a beach landing. He had fulfilled his dream, and in the process come to know the river intimately. An unusual bond had formed between man and waterway, as if the Clutha's muscular flow now coursed through Lewis's own bloodstream. Although the voyage took place 20 years ago, in the summer of 1981 - 2, Lewis has lived to the rhythms of the river ever since.

When I first met Lewis in his riverside cottage—fittingly, the former residence of a ferryman—we talked river for hours, two enthusiasts applauding the nuances of an endless performance. Like the pioneers he emulated, Lewis has combined adventure and business in a river-based lifestyle: an eco-rafting venture focusing not just on white-water thrills but appreciation of the riverine environment as well. It was late April when we met, and he had just completed his 21st rafting season. This called for a celebration, he thought: one last trip of personal thanksgiving to the river for a season of plenty. He invited me to join him.

The Clutha's quiet but formidable power comes from its large catchment area. Figuratively speaking, the river is like the trunk of a giant tree, with a deep and complex root system. Three large lakes—Wanaka, Hawea and Wakatipu—anchor the system in the foothills of the Southern Alps, but the tributaries which feed them penetrate beyond the Southern Lakes district into Fiordland and as far north as Haast. The Greenstone, Caples, Rees, Dart and Route Burn; the Wilkin, Young, Makarora, Matukituki and Hunter—all these rivers form the headwaters of the Clutha, whose total catchment extends over some 20,582 square kilometres. At 322 km from source to ocean, the Clutha is not a particularly long river, but it more than makes up for shortness with volume, speed and power.

These attributes are apparent as soon as we launch Lewis's inflatable raft at Albert Town, near the first bridge that spans the river. It picks up speed instantly, moving at 15 - 18 km/h, Lewis estimates, without a single oar-stroke. The water is as clear as kirsch: I can see the rocks of the riverbed three or four meters below us rushing past like a landscape through the window of a train.

Water clarity is one of the Clutha's outstanding features, Lewis tells me. It is the result of the decanting effect of Lake Wanaka. "The lake acts as a sediment pond for the glacial silt, and then the top layer of spring-pure water is drained off by the river," he says. "You can safely drink it . . ." He hesitates. "Well, at least as far as the Wanaka sewage outlet."

On this April day the autumn colors are in full blaze, and the Clutha is a plait of greenstone set in gold, the riverside poplars burning bright like rows of candle flames. The raft's paddles, I note, are stowed away, and Lewis, seated on an elevated center frame, is using a pair of oars instead. The frame, made of bull-bar-like aluminum tubing, is rounded so as not to catch on rocks or branches. Beneath it, the raft's hull is pliable, able to pour like water over the surface of obstacles.

Oar rafts are rare in New Zealand, Lewis says, but they are standard on big overseas rivers such as the Zambezi and Colorado. "You could never get away with a paddle raft on a river like the Clutha unless you had a coordinated and responsive crew, and you can't expect novices and tourists to become experts within minutes of putting in," he tells me. "I encourage them to paddle so that they can feel the strength of the current, but I retain full control over the raft. On the Clutha, you can't afford mistakes."

Most of his passengers assume that because the Clutha has no big rapids there is no danger, Lewis says. "They don't realize that it is the flow of the river and not its white water that is the greatest threat. So they enjoy the cruise and the scenery, unaware that if I were to misjudge a turn we could all be swimming within seconds, perhaps dead within minutes."

Tanned and toned, wearing his usual shorts and rafting sandals despite the morning's frost, Lewis works the oars with measured crank-handle spins, pirouetting the raft casually, aligning it with the flow, making the most of the current's intricacies. He cranes his neck to scout the route ahead, but his actions are relaxed and understated, testimony to more than two decades on the river.

Only when he allows me a turn at the oars on the Pioneer Rapid—the biggest stretch of white water on this part of the river—do I gain a proper insight into his skills. We plunge into a set of standing waves that come at us like an express train. I fend them off, straining to keep the raft on course. The river yanks and wrings the oars, then jabs them into my ribs, almost knocking me off the seat. It's as if we're in a scene from Deliverance, but Lewis is sitting back, a relaxed passenger. He knows he is not taking any chances. The rapid may be boisterous and look threatening, but it's also wide and devoid of obstacles. We could probably get through it without any oar work at all.

Lewis takes over just before Devils Nook—certainly not a place for a rookie oarsman. Here the river narrows, speeds up, then hits a cliff head-on, folding back on itself and creating a whirlpool 50 meters across—a giant no-escape eddy. Imagine a satellite image of a tornado and translate it to the aquatic realm: a twister of such power it makes the water look as thick as ready-to-pour concrete. It is enough to curdle the blood, too, but Lewis maintains his dance-with-the-river equanimity.

He plays the whirlpool so that the raft spirals in its grip, now rushing at the menacing cliff, now coursing back upstream. There are baby twisters calving off this mother of all whirlpools, and Lewis is craning his neck again, looking for an opportunity. Suddenly, he digs in the oars, locking into a breakaway vortex just as a surfer would catch a wave, and we are pulled out of the trap, spiraling into the mainstream. Below us, the Clutha again flows as smooth as silk.

Lewis Verduyn has learnt first-hand about both the river's power and its benevolence. Once, out for a summer swim, he was caught in an eddy and sucked beneath the surface. Twice he came up, grabbed a lungful of air and swam for his life, but both times the eddy pulled him back down. Third time around, Lewis blacked out. When he regained consciousness, his knees were scraping the shingle below the bank. Miraculously, the river had let him go.

"I learnt a big lesson that day," Lewis told me. "The moment before I blacked out I turned towards the middle of the river and let the current take me. That probably saved my life. The lesson was: don't fight the river—it is always stronger. But with skill, understanding and a good dose of respect you can use the river's power."

These days Lewis Verduyn has another dream—no less challenging than his log-rafting trip but far grander in scope. It is a dream of giving back to the river, of reciprocating its many blessings. Inspired by a scheme developed for the Mississippi, Lewis has proposed the Clutha River Parkway, a protected area encompassing the river and its banks from source to sea.

The parkway would incorporate existing reserves and seek the support of landowners and community and interest groups to regulate further development adjacent to the river. It could ultimately lead to the creation of a riverside trail, to be travelled on foot, mountain bike or horseback.

It is an appealing and unifying vision—and timely, in view of the wrangling over water rights. I can think of no better honor for my home river.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.