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Please help identify my mom’s Old Town canoe

Discussion in 'Serial Number Search' started by peggleston, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. peggleston

    peggleston New Member

    I have a canoe that has been in the family since the 1930’s. My mother purchased it (second hand, I think) with her babysitting money to use at our Camp in the Adirondacks. It was probably purchased in New York State or Ohio.

    The serial number is very degraded, but I think it is 72317 . The canoe is 16 feet long, 32 inches at its widest measurement. I am guessing it is an Old Town because of the shape of the deck (ogee). There is no manufacturer identification, but family lore is that there was once an Old Town decal or plate.

    The boat is mostly watertight, so my goal is to clean it up, refinish, and to make it more appealing to paddle. I have begun scraping the many layers of paint off the exterior, and removing the old finish (and 50 years of grime) from the interior. My father removed the canvas and fiberglassed the boat in the 1970’s, so you can see the planking through the fiberglass.

    I would appreciate any suggestions from people who have experience restoring an old canoe. I am not trying to make a showpiece; my skills are rudimentary, but I have lots of enthusiasm and elbow grease. This is a labor of love, and I don’t want to do anything that will damage the boat.

    Thanks for any help you can give me!

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  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Welcome and congratulations, the Old Town canoe with serial number 72317 is a 16 foot long, CS (common sense or middle) grade Charles River model with red Western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, ash decks, ash thwarts, ash seats, and a keel. It was built between June and July, 1922. The original exterior paint color was dark red. It shipped on August 9th, 1922 to Old Forge, New York. A scan showing this build record can be found below.

    This build record scan and several hundred thousand more were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that you will donate, join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to donate or join.

    It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match the canoe. Canoes with a family connections like this are always extra special. A full restoration will probably require removing the fiberglass. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions. Good luck with the project,


  3. OP

    peggleston New Member

    Thank you so much for your quick response! The information sounds spot-on, as we are 10 miles from Old Forge, and the timing is right. My mother was born in 1922, and would have bought the boat 2nd hand as a teenager.

    It’s helpful to know the wood used in the boat’s construction and the original color.

    I have joined WCHA, and have already learned so much to help me in this project.

    Thanks again for your help!
  4. monkitoucher

    monkitoucher Canoe Curious

    I have another E.L. (Emmet) Marks canoe. He had a canoe livery out of Old Forge. He was a very interesting guy. Here's a link to my restoration on mine and a little background on Mr. Marks.

    Here is a link to some of the other E.L. Marks discovered on here.

    Here is a link to a blog entry about a guy that did the 90 miler in a canoe he rented from Mr. Marks in 1930.

    BTW- the historical society in Old Forge has some additional information on Mr. Marks. We stopped in there when we came through a couple of years ago.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  5. OP

    peggleston New Member

    Thank you so much for this information! I truly appreciate you sharing tour restoration experience; I am doing this as a sentimental journey, and every bit of history makes my mother’s old canoe more valuable to me.
    Our family has been connected to the Old Forge/Inlet area for almost 100 years, so I love hearing the story of Mr. Marks and his contributions to ADK.
    monkitoucher likes this.

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