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Joseph Ranco And The Special Decks Of The Penobscot And Meramec Canoe Companies

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Benson Gray, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The Penobscot Canoe Company was known for their unusual decks as described at and the St. Louis Meramec Canoe Company had a similar one as described at for example. Both of these companies were run by Alfred Wickett so I had always assumed that he invented this. However, some recent research into the Penobscot "NOTACRACK" model described at led me to the patent at which confirms that this deck was invented by a Penobscot named Joseph Ranco.

    Ranco was also mentioned frequently in the local newspaper during the late 1880s and would occasionally dress up in traditional costumes with his family as shown below along with a picture of his shop in Kennebunkport.

    Ranco-April-28-1888.jpg Ranco-August-18-1888.jpg Ranco-May-18-1889.jpg Ranco.jpg Ranco-2.jpg

    Some other research about Ranco led me to the book titled “Profiles of Maine” from 1976 by Lynn Franklin that quotes Nick Ranco saying “It was Joe Ranco, My uncle, who founded the Old Town Canoe Company. He worked with a man named Wickett and they had a small shop, just big enough to hold one canoe. They sawed out their cedar ribs and planking themselves.” This interview was recorded so I am working on getting a copy now to see if there are any more interesting details about this topic which were left out of the book.

    This gives me another clue about what Alfred Wickett was doing between 1895 when he learned to build canoes from Edwin White as described at and 1900 when the first mention of a new and unnamed canoe company appeared as shown at in the newspaper. The 1901 Indian Old Town Canoe Company catalog identified the I. F. model as shown at as being “planned by one of our Indian workmen” so that was probably a reference to Joseph Ranco and the initials may have stood for Indian Fishing canoe. This canoe is still being built and sold today as the Guide model.

    Fun stuff,

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
    1905Gerrish and Rob Stevens like this.
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I always wanted to build a Notacrack canoe... maybe in another lifetime.

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