Bullboats

“The very early fur traders’ parties and the exploring expeditions had their own method of crossing which was entirely useless to wagon caravans. They made bullboats. The rules were like the old recipe for rabbit stew which began, ‘First you catch your rabbit.’ The main essential was fresh, or ‘green’ buffalo hides, which necessitated first catching a few buffalo bulls—the bigger the better. The green hides were sewed together and put, while still soft, over the bed of a cart (if they had one along) or a framework of green willow poles, conveniently bent by driving both ends in the ground. The hides were then allowed to dry and shrink. This process supplied a large strong boat that would carry several men and their dunnage, and drew only a few inches of water.”