A Shantyboat Anthro-Historical River Journey

Wes Modes' Secret History Shanyboat - cabin framing
Wes Modes' Secret History Shanyboat
Wes Modes’ Secret History Shanyboat – trim installation

Repost of a classic story:

It has been over a year since I posted an update on my Glen-L Waterlodge Shantyboat build to shantyboatliving.com. However a few of you have been following my build blog (though shamefully I’ve been two busy to update in a few months). Rest assured, it has been coming along swimmingly (if you will pardon the unintentional pun).

Wes Modes' Secret History Shanyboat
Wes Modes’ Secret History Shanyboat – cabin framing

This year, I am planning a big summer shantyboat journey. A voyage to rediscover the lost narratives of river people, river communities, and the river itself — an anthro-historical artist’s journey through the history of a river. It weaves together threads of adventure, history, art, and story.

Secret History is a journey to discover, present, and connect the lost narratives of working-class river communities from the deck of the recreated shantyboat that serves as both the vehicle for this journey and the project library and archive. The project will present these personal narratives through audio, video, and digital media, posting snippets and highlights from the river enroute.

Wes Modes' Secret History Shanyboat
Wes Modes’ Secret History Shanyboat

In this phase of the project, we plan to launch above Minneapolis, Minnesota just above the Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi River. We’ll be stopping in small and large towns along the way to interview strangers and people with whom we’ve made connections prior to the trip. We’ll also be taking the opportunity to research local resources and meet knowledgable people along the way. Our goal is to take out near St. Louis before the confluence with the Missouri. We’ll see how far we get in just over a month.

We’ll be camping in the shantyboat, moored along the banks, on islands within the river, and at local marinas. We can resupply as necessary at towns along the route.

Wes Modes' Secret History Shanyboat
Wes Modes’ Secret History Shanyboat – interior with ladder to sleeping loft

Right now, we are fundraising for final outfitting of the shantyboat and to get it across country to Minneapolis. Check out the Kickstarter and the unique rewards for supporting the project.

I am looking for connections to current or long-gone shantyboat communities on the Upper Mississippi River.  So if there are people you think we should talk to, we’d love to have their contacts.

You will be able to follow the progress of the journey, watch video, and connect with river people and river communities on the project website at peoplesriverhistory.us.

Wes Modes' Secret History Shanyboat - cabin plan
Wes Modes’ Secret History Shanyboat – cabin plan


Originally posted 2015-06-30 07:21:11.

Wes Modes' irrepressible sense of adventure has lead him to decades of train hopping and DIY rafting on a half dozen major American rivers. In various lives, he is a sculptor, writer, performer, adventurer, comic artist, and most recently a shanty boat maker. The chronicles of his ongoing personal journey to build a shanty boat can be found at littleshantyboat.blogspot.com