Boy, am I stumped.

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
Can anyone help me figure out what this number is? I am pretty sure the decks and rails are mahog. The Planks are Western red cedar. The tack heads show a little green and might seem flat headed. But I could be wrong about that. I can make out the 17 for the length, which is correct, and I did not attach a photo of that. I think there are 5 digits? _ _ _ 2 _? Not sure of anything.
We think maybe 44121, or 43123 or 44123. But I'm not sure. Can anyone see the numbers any better? The camera seems to help. Tried a rubbing to no avail. These are the best photos I can get at the moment. This is the bow stem only. the stern stem has the numbers sanded right off. The remnant of paint is red. The inside looks to have some peeling polyurethane over the varnish. Outwales are fastened from the outside in with straight slotted screws. The keel is held on with small round head screws over washers. Everyother rib. thwarts are fastened with slotted steel screws and countersunk and plugged. and the plugs look to be bondo. BUT, it think the rails are original as are the decks. There seems to be remnant of other plugged holes in the inwales. I'm guessing the 'resto' resulted in the steel screws? It would be nice to ID this Old Old Town if we can. I am going to supervise the restore and it will be the door prize for our 2011 Wild Game dinner.


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one other thing

there looks to be the tip of a screw on the left of the number. I don't think it is a sixth digit, or is it? There is another filed off screw tip near the inboard end of the stem. I can't find any evidence of a closed gunnel but it's hard to tell. thanks for any efforts.
2 things. Rub a crayon directly on the entire surface, get the color into every nook and cranny. Take a small block of wood and a pc of sandpaper and lightly sand. Stand back and look at it. Before you do that, take a flashlight and shine it on the stem on an angle. The shadows will pick up alot!!!!;)
Does this fit?


Old Town 43121 is a 17 foot AA grade HW completed between April and May of 1916. It has open mahogany gunwales and is otherwise also trimmed in mahogany... original color Dudian (?) red (yes, red!) and was shipped to Beulah, Michigan (!) on June 15, 1916. Sound like it could be The One?

I'll send this and then post what the other numbers came up as...

The scan of this record is attached below-- click on it to get a larger image. This scan and several hundred thousand others 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 and anyone else reading this will join or renew membership in the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to renew.



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Kathy! This is the Traverse City Old Town. It fits perfectly. Holy Cow! Are you good or what? I won't be needing the crayolas aftger all.

Yes, it had a floor rack, now gone to dust. The shadow is there and the turnbuckles. How exciting.
I focused on the numbers you suggested, Dave-- and when 44121 and 43123 didn't fit, I looked up 43121... the description on the build record seemed to match your canoe... including where it was shipped. Glad it seems to be the right record!