Old town 25’ war canoe

Ric Puls

New Member
Hello out there, I’m still kicking and have been working on my 25 footer. Thought I’d see how old it is by asking to have the serial number looked up. It is 70888 25 on the bow stem. It had been recovered and broken ribs poorly repaired in the past and I’m hoping to fix that. The canoe never had a keelson nor uprights to the thwart seats. Are there standard dimensions for these? Thanks for your time and help. The canoe used to belong to a camp Brosius on Elkhart Lake, in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin. They also had another war canoe, numerous 17 footers and I believe two sail/rowboats. Could have possibly been one order to outfit the camp?
In the classifieds section there is a seller with a 25' war canoe as well. She might be a start to get measurements.
The Old Town canoe with serial number 70888 is a 25 foot long, CS (common sense or middle) grade, war canoe model with red western cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, thirty inch hardwood decks, a keel, outside stems, and a floor rack. It was built between March and May, 1922. The original exterior paint color was dark green. It shipped on June 3rd, 1922 to Indianapolis, Indiana. A scan showing this build record can be found below.

This scan and several hundred thousand more were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others as you probably know well. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/records/ 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 https://www.woodencanoe.org/about to learn more about the WCHA and https://www.woodencanoe.org/shop to donate or join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match the canoe. The war canoe's dimensions are shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/dimens-2.gif from the 1920 catalog. It is not clear how this one got from Indiana to Wisconsin. The only other canoe I've located that shipped to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is an 18 foot HW with serial number 123485 that went to R. A. Strecker in 1938. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.


Thank-you Benson. The camp it came from is an Indiana University Alumni camp here in Elkhart Lake Wi. Is the record preservation completed or still underway?
Is the record preservation completed or still underway?

Arguably, the record preservation project is both completed and still underway depending on your perspective. The first phase of the effort to scan the records up to the 200,000 box in black and white is complete. We ended up with some extra funding and actually went to the 210,000 box. A later phase scanned from the 211,000 box up to the 250,000 box in color and rescanned some of the earliest ones. This also included the skiffs and flat-bottomed wooden boats which each had a different serial number sequence. (They had five different sequences of serial numbers for Old Town, Carleton, All-Wood canoes, skiffs, and flat-bottomed wooden boats so things can get confusing.) The paper records extend up to about 500,000 but most of these later records are for plastic canoes. There isn't much current interest in spending a lot of time or money on them. There was also an effort to transcribe a sample of the records to create a fully searchable database. This project is currently dormant after reaching 14276 records or about 2.86% of the total. However, it is enough to make some reasonable estimates about the entire data set. Another experiment ran everything through a optical character recognition (OCR) process to make them searchable. The OCR doesn't work very well on the cursive writing but can be helpful for some things on the records after the 1930s when they started using typewriters. The current project is to re-name each of the scan files to include the serial number which makes them easier to find and has the added benefit of identifying many of the mis-filed records. The project is currently up to the 189,000 box. Therefore, much has been finished and more is still ongoing. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.