Early Rafters

Watch a clip from the show on early river rafters.

vintage footage of two people in a canoe on the Middle ForkThe first documented journey down the Middle Fork was in 1926, when the Henry Weidner party set out in two canoes. Weidner took a motion picture camera with him and documented the trip.

According to author Cort Conley, Weidner spent most of his time "in a blind waiting for elk, deer, bear to come within camera range and not be scared by the noise that it made while he was cranking it."

vintage footage of Amos Burg in raft going through rapidsEventually, Weidner took his film on the road and showed it throughout the west. One of the four men on the trip successfully sued Weidner for a share of the profits from the film. The film disappeared for decades, until Conley found it at the Oregon Historical Society. It had been cut up into pieces. Conley paid to put it back together again, and part of that film is in our program "A Middle Fork Journey."

Amos Burg piloted the first rubber raft down the Middle Fork. He put on the river in 1939 in a yellow Goodyear raft called "Charlie." The raft performed admirably and is now in a museum in Jackson, Wyoming.

vintage footage of bus hatch going through rapids in a wooden boat"Amos said he ran that trip wearing Oxfords that he never got wet," said Conley. "They didn't really have any mishaps on that trip to speak of, but they took sixteen days to go all the way to Riggins hot springs."

Bus Hatch was on the river in wooden boats in 1936; and in the early 1940's Andy Anderson floated the Middle Fork in a World War II raft. "Out of that came essentially the current river outfitting business," noted Conley, "that takes more than 10,000 people a year down the river now."

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