We sent two RRCC reps to Tiptonville last weekend to visit the shop where the Reelfoot Lake "Stump Jumper" is made.
We want one, of course. Real bad. But this was not a procurement trip, it was to learn how four generations of the Calhoun family made a boat that can go full speed over submerged stumps and Bald Cypress knees without breaking everything from stem to stern. Especially the propellor.
The Stump Jumper has an 8 hp inboard motor, which used to be the motor taken from a Maytag washing machine, and the amazing, patented "bow-facing-oars" (got a pair of those for the wife for Valentine's Day).
Back when we were mule shopping we actually thought hard about buying a Reelfoot Lake boat, but decided they really weren't much bigger than a big canoe and so we traded character for utility and got the jon boat.
Here's one inside the shop:
In the back room, miniature chair samples hang on the wall representing every type of wood your boat seats could be ordered in.
Birch, Pine, Pecan, Lindenberry, Sassafras, Beech, Cherry, Cottonwood, Honey Locust, Apple, Peach, Willow, Sweet Gum, Sycamore, Walnut, Catalpa, Bow Dark *". This is where J.Crew goes when they need to name a new sweater color. Yes, they even have the wood that our Stump Jumper seat would have to be made out of:
And the Calhouns' secret to safe propellering? A skeg guard - just like ours!
So we headed back to Nashville well satisfied, though a little sad we weren't coming back with a wooden boat.
Watching this video will make you a Happy Jack:
* "Rock-hard bodark - Osage orange if you want; bois d'arc if you're etymological."
Goodbye to a River, p. 163.