Cover photo by Mountain Man Photography
In celebration of the Clarion River’s status as Pennsylvania’s 2019 River of the Year, the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau will share one excerpt each month this year from the book “True Tales of Clarion River,” published in 1933 by George P. Sheffer and the Northwestern Pennsylvania Raftsmen’s Association. The below story was written by Adam Rhodes of Ridgway, PA.
I should like to give an account of some of my rafting experiences.
One morning we started with our raft about a mile above Bell Town. We had gone only a short distance when our pilot became frightened. When we reached Cooks Rocks another raft came in contact with ours. The men all went to the front end of the raft which lapped about the second platform of ours and we couldn’t hold our raft out. It ran on a rock about four feet high and we decided to stay there till the rafts sopped running so thick. When it was possible, we pulled the raft off the rock. In doing so, the front platform broke off and we had to tie it to the raft.
We had gone only a short distance again when the raft swung into the hill. The pilot was going to jump off and take a hitch but I told him to stay on and I would take it. He tried to throw the line on the snubbing post but failed. I had to let go or the raft would have broken in tow as it began to swing around again.
They ran down to Hemlock Island and the pilot jumped off and took a hitch. The owner of the raft got the line on the snubbing post but it was so weak it refused to hold. It ran down below Hemlock where we finally succeeded in tying it up.
A man from the boat scaffold went up to the island after the pilot. We got the platform and fixed up the raft that day. The pilot was so frightened he refused to go the rest of the way, so we got a new one, and on the following day we took the raft the remaining distance to the mouth of the Clarion.
I have run rafts from about two miles above Arroyo almost to Pittsburgh.
Some pilots I knew were Mathias Meltzer, Adam Hidinger, Ben Carnithan, Hugh Carnithan, Tom Carnithan, Jim Carnithan, Jack McFadden, Reed McFadden, Neuton Webster, John Wingard, Frank Eck, John Haight, Frank Champion, and John Champion.