Wooden Boat Building: A Dying Art Springs To Life

Wooden Boat Building: A Dying Art Springs To Life (Louisiana):

A dying art is making a comeback in downtown Lockport. Vanessa Bolano has the story.

74-year-old Tom Butler is fascinated with old wooden boats, so much so he's created a museum dedicated to them.

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“No fiberglass, no medal boats,” says Butler.

The Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building preserves the culture of wooden boat building.

“This is an Indian dugout that was found in one of the lakes around here. It's been dated between 1519 and 1622,” boasts Butler, “There's so many old people dying off. The old boat builders have passed away, like those names that we have. I would say that the young folks don't want to do that.”

The museum opens twice a week, and relies heavily on volunteers. Women and men like Donald LeBoef who get excited when they hear a visitor walk in.

“This is something that I would like to see continued. What we're trying to do at the boat center is to preserve the culture of wooden boat building in South Louisiana. It's kind of a dying art. We don't want to lose this. It's kind of like the French language.”

The center opened in 1979, but moved to Lockport three years ago. It’s housed at the old Ford building Downtown. The building was vacant and eventually purchased by the city and gifted to volunteers. The city also hopes it will help revitalize Downtown Lockport.

“If we open for just one or two people that makes our day,” says Butler.

Entrance costs $5, and for an extra fee you can also build your own boat at the center and breathe some life back into a dying art.

The museum is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am until 3pm, but they'll open anytime if you schedule a visit. To contact the museum call 985.532.5106 or click here.

Perhaps you could start something similar to keep the interest alive or maybe your community already has a similar project established?


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