Dugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas
Open through Jan. 5, 2014 | Free admission
Don't miss the boat! This object-rich and interactive exhibition produced by the Florida Museum features American dugouts from ancient times to present. Learn how dugout canoes have affected life and travel throughout the Americas, from Florida to the Amazon and the Pacific.
- Newnans Lake
In 2000, drought revealed 101 partial and whole dugouts in Newnans Lake, Fla. Area high school students and other residents first spotted long, straight wood pieces in the dried lakebed. They called archaeologists, who identified the canoes and began excavations.
- Canoe Making
Traditionally, people used fire and tools to fell trees and shape dugouts. Today the dugout tradition continues to evolve with new tools and ideas.
- Archaeological Dugouts
Dugout canoe finds are rare and not always recorded. The oldest known dugouts in North America date to 6,000-7,000 years. People probably used dugouts earlier, but these have decayed or remain undiscovered.
- Modern Dugouts
Today, people throughout the Americas continue to make and use dugout canoes.
Did You Know?
- In the U.S., Florida holds the record for the greatest number of documented ancient dugout canoe finds, totaling nearly 400. Michigan is a distant second with 80 recorded dugouts.
- Using small wood samples and microscopes, scientists can identify the type of tree used to make a dugout. This helps answer questions about canoe practices and ancient landscapes, and can even provide clues about past climates.
- While ancient dugouts were created using fire and tools, today’s dugout tradition continues to evolve. Chainsaws often are used for the initial shaping, and some cultures add outboard motors for speed and ease.
Dugout Canoes was produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History with support from the Alachua County Tourist Development Council, the AEC Trust, the Lastinger Family Foundation and the State of Florida Matching Gifts Trust Fund. The Florida Museum will display the exhibit through Jan. 5, 2014 before it begins traveling to venues across the country.