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 story below was written by J.O. Sayers of Strattonville, PA.
I once helped run a shanty raft from Robin Island down the river for John Donahue. Al Hoover handled the back oar and I manned the front one till we got to Katz’, then we called Frank Blair to help us.
We got along till we came to the Race Grounds. We had to pull grand right and left all day. As we came under the Pike bridge at Clarion, we ran too close to the eddy below the bridge and had to pull one half clip to the right without orders. Our pilot said we would have to do double work for that.
Wade Agnew on another raft beside ours said we had done all right. We went through Piney in a gorge, then we got separated. We had hard work from there till we got through Licking and Wilson.
At the foot of Wilson, I called to take out the line. After we had stopped our pilot asked what was wanted, and I said we wanted a rest. In half an hour we started again. With hard work we got to the mouth without breaking up and then we rested all night there in the shanty.
We were all tired and sore the next morning from the hard work we had done. When they paid us off, the pilot said, “Slim, I suppose you would not make another trip with me to save my life.” I said I would to save his life but no other way.
I did not like many of the rest, spend my pay for old rye.
I will now tell you a story about George Leeper. You all know that George was a strong man on an oar. He was running on timber for John Beer and coming though the Devils Race Ground, he split his oar in tow. He ran through to Delo’s Eddy then called to his boss to see his oar and said, “look at your bubble skipper.”