Our Motorboat in Nauvoo

Our family moved from my Father’s home town of Ft. Madison, Iowa – to my Mother’s home town of Nauvoo, Illinois – in 1947. Only a few miles apart on the Mississippi River , but nine miles by a concrete road.

The first thing we built on our property was a combination fruit cellar and boathouse – in a ravine on the edge of our property – bordering our Grandfather Atkinson’s property. Made of concrete block walls, and a poured concrete ceiling.

The fruit cellar was never used, and filled up with junk. But Dad bought a motor boat, in Ft. Madison, for the boathouse. He removed the tires from the rims, and installed cast-iron sewer pipe as tracks into the river.

But the river was filling in rapidly, Dad tried to take the boat straight out to the channel from out house – but kept getting stuck in the mud. He gave up, and didn’t use it after that.

When I was in high school, my friend Dale Harris and I rebuilt the boat and the motor. We should have bought wheels to replace the ones that had been taken off. But installing them, down in the boathouse, was more of a job than we could tackle. So we drilled holes in the hubs and bolted the rubber from the outside of some tires right onto the hubs. For slow trips on Nauvoo’s gravel roads, they worked fine.

Then we dragged the boat out of the boathouse, and pulled it to the Ferry Boat landing, where there was plenty of water. Later we used the Beach as our launching site. I built a water-board I could pull behind the boat, with someone standing on the board. This made me popular with my family and my girl-friends.

Dale also built his boat, and we used to go on trips together up the river. Used outboard motors were cheap back then.


One thought on “Our Motorboat in Nauvoo

  1. I remember that motor boat with fondness, although I never followed up on it as you did. Instead my sister and I used an aluminum row-boat that was very light and maneuverable! We had great times. Then when I was in high school we got an aluminum canoe that we kept down at the boathouse and I could get that canoe around the shallows quite well (although we would not be able to now–it become way to shallow and marshy–although when the river is high I can still get a kayak into that area–with some significant effort!

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