From the Archives, February 21, 2021

War Canoes

The Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell was blessed with an amazing waterfront. The waterfront was perhaps the most popular feature of the Narrows Boxwell… well, besides the rattlesnake eating. Part of what made that waterfront experience were war canoes.

The war canoes were two large ten-man canoes. There was a man in the stern and one in the bow and four pairs in the middle. They were enormous. And generally, they were used for one thing… racing.

At the end of every week of there was a water carnival. The carnival was open to the public, but it was mainly parents that attended. The carnival consisted of a variety of races. Quite a few were swimming races, but some were canoe races as well. The grand finale of the carnival was the war canoe race, where teams raced up the river, around the Harris Street Bridge, and back to the waterfront.

What happened to the war canoes is unclear. They did not appear to survive the transition to Rock Island, but for the Narrows Boxwell, they were a highlight! Pictured here is a war canoe in 1932 finishing up a race.

War Canoes at the Narrows
A “war canoe” at the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell, 1932

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