- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

PAISLEY, Ore. (AP) - Most people think the dugout canoe displayed in front of the Paisley Ranger Station was carved by Native Americans.

About 10 years ago, the canoe, which had been on display since 1998, was stolen by thieves who grabbed it, put it in a U-Haul and drove off.

“They thought it was an Indian dugout canoe and thought they were going to get thousands of dollars,” tells John Kaiser, the Fremont-Winema National Forest’s archaeologist.

Kaiser says the thieves were quickly arrested, but the canoe was held as evidence until the case was settled. It has since been returned to its sheltered display area in Paisley, but is now bolted to the frame.

“It would take four big guys to lift it,” Kaiser says.

It wasn’t built by Native Americans. Instead, the canoe is one of about six built by members of the pre-World War II era Civilian Conservation Corps. C’s, as they were known, constructed several of the buildings - which are still being used for administrative services - at the Paisley Ranger Station compound in 1938-39.

“They built things in the woods, too,” Kaiser says, noting C’s helped with trails and roads.

And, because much of their work was at areas outside of Paisley, the crews often stayed at mountain lakes such as Deadhorse and Campbell. As an interpretive sign at the ranger station explains, they created the dugout canoes for swimming, fishing and boating. One historic photo features three women in swim suits paddling one of the canoes, while another shows five of the then-newly crafted canoes under a tent.

“Part of what they liked to do was go fishing and boating,” Kaiser explains of what C’s did on their days off.

Typically, the process included lighting the interior of a log to help burn out the wood, which was chunked with an ax, adze and-or chainsaw.

“The design is not like the Klamath Indian dugout canoe,” Kaiser says, noting the C’s canoes are heavier and longer, with some being more than 12-feet long.

Most of the C’s canoes have been destroyed or damaged. Another canoe, one that’s longer than the Paisley canoe, is at the Bly Ranger District office, but isn’t yet on display. Kaiser says it’s being treated with linseed oil.

“Our plan is to move it down and put it on display,” he says, noting it’s believed some of the salvaged canoes have been used for flower pots.

For people wanting souvenirs of the own, Kaiser says it’s probable there are still pieces of old canoes sunken in Deadhorse Lake.

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Information from: Herald and News, https://www.heraldandnews.com

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