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a Kidney Boat
Kidney Boat
Manufactured by the Kidney & Son Boat Factory, DePere, Wisconsin
Cedar wood, canvas
Illinois State Museum collection (1990.66.1a-e)
Gift of the family of William W. Watson, Barry, Illinois
Zoom in on a Kidney Boat
Dan Kidney Duck Boat
Dan Kidney made this wooden boat with pointed bow and stern sometime between 1897 and 1925, probably in his DePere, Wisconsin boat factory. The body is covered with canvas and several layers of curling paint. A metal plate with the maker's name is affixed to the interior of the bow. Also made by Mr. Kidney were a pair of standard wooden oars and two folding oars that have a mechanical device in the center that fits into special oarlocks. The oars fold and allow the rower to row both forward and backward without changing position in the boat.

The Kidney and Sons Boat Factory was built as a home workshop when Kidney was employed at a sawmill and a shipyard. He began by building a duck skiff and some decoys. After he sold the first one, word of its quality spread and demand rose. He found it necessary to expand his business by 1874. He built a two-story factory, followed, after an 1891 fire, by a 40,000- square-foot establishment that employed forty workers. They made rowboats, skiffs, canoes, hunting boats, and 'gasoline launches' using steam-powered equipment and handwork. Kidney died in 1925, but the company remained until the 1960s, when demand for wooden boats declined.

Kidney Boat Detail
Kidney Boat Detail
Manufactured by the Kidney & Son Boat Factory, DePere, Wisconsin
Cedar wood, canvas
Illinois State Museum collection (1990.66.1a-e)
Gift of the family of William W. Watson, Barry, Illinois
Zoom in on Kidney Boat Detail

The boat, made of cedar, featuresa:

  • a wide, flat bottom for stability and large load capacity
  • low sloping sides made of overlapping cedar strakes
  • low profile that throws no shadows among the reeds
  • reinforcing ribs and 'knees' of oak.
  • a deck made of cedar, the ends covered with canvas.
  • pole holes, like pipes, through each end so that the hunter could anchor the boat steady by running his push pole through it and into the muddy bottom.
  • dead-grass colored paint.
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