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The Dayton (Ohio) Canoe Club.....Last one standing

Jul 7, 2015
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Dayton, Ohio
I joined the DCC a couple of years ago after getting a tour of it.....I thought people here might enjoy hearing a little bit about it.....I will upload some recent photos from my phone as I get time....
I'm kind of embarrassed to say I had been driving/running/walking/biking/paddling by it for the past 30 years and just never saw much going on.....Kind of on a whim, a couple of Winters ago, I reached out to the club via e-mail about membership. A couple of months later, I was contacted by a very apologetic member who kindly arranged a tour. I was very pleasantly surprised! The building is absolutely amazing! It is two stories with the second (main) level accessible from the street or you can key your way thru the gate and walk down a flight of stairs to the dock/picnic area and access the lower level locker rooms. When you walk in the front door of the building, you have his/her restrooms directly in front of you. A quick button hook to the right and you have the stairs leading down to the boat lockers. Continue right past the stairs and you enter the "ballroom", where membership meetings, club dinners/brunches/parties are held. The ballroom has the original hardwood floors/paneling/ceiling from when it was built in 1913.....lovingly maintained over the years....A left hand turn from the front door takes you to the "Commodore's room" which is more or less a lounge area with fireplace (now converted to gas). The original pool table purchased in I believe 1915? is still in play, there are a couple of original "Stickney" rockers purchased back in the early days of the club. There is one round card table where members have sat over the years playing. My buddies and I use the table a couple times a month during the Winter to tie flies, eat pizza, drink beer, and plan canoe trips. Members have access to a private locker on the lower level of the club to store a canoe/kayak for easy access to the river. There are I believe 150 boat lockers available to membership. Throughout the Commodore's room and ballroom, are trophy cases full of medals and trophies from regatta's all over the country as well as old black/white photos and paintings. There a also a number of old scaled down Old Town wood canvas canoes that were given to the club many years ago by salesmen....they are 3-5' long and prominently displayed throughout the club.

In Dayton's heyday, there were 5 canoe clubs on the Northside of the downtown.....The Dayton Canoe Club was the newest, built in 1912......This is significant because one year later, Dayton was nearly wiped out by the "Great Flood of 1913".... The Dayton Canoe Club was the only one left standing......According to club lore, the DCC is one of only two canoe clubs in the country from that era still in their original location. Orville Wright was a frequent guest of the club, in fact he is depicted in a number of black/white photos from that era shooting pool and hanging out at the club....even a couple photos of him in a canoe.

If I did this right, there should be a link below this to the canoe club website...specifically the history page with a lot more info. Once you get to the website, there is a tab for photos...plenty of neat pic.s there:

Dayton Canoe Club website

The next link is to the Miami Conservancy District....and organization created to monitor the rivers and responsible for the flood control dams and levees throughout the Dayton region...the link will take you to the history page of the 1913 flood......all total over 3000 homes were lost:

Miami Conservancy District

The below map is oriented with North at the top....You can see the three rivers and one creek that converge inside of the city limits...the DCC is marked with a black X on the left side of the map on the West Bank of the Great Miami River....just below the confluence of the Stillwater/Great Miami rivers.....


I have a lot of cool photos of the club on my phone and will add them over the next few days.....

Here is a sat image showing the club:

The more oblong circle on the bottom is the DCC property...the smaller circle is the Stillwater canoe club...is washed about 3/4 of a mile downstream, but remained intact and was hauled back after the floodwater's receded.....There is one last living member of that club, it was past down thru the generations...it's in pretty bad shape and probably needs torn down before it falls down....

The first photo is a couple of my paddling buddies out in front of the club….the smaller green building is the Stillwater canoe club…or what’s left of it….

There a also a number of old scaled down Old Town wood canvas canoes that were given to the club many years ago by salesmen....they are 3-5' long and prominently displayed throughout the club.

Jatfomike, those Old Town salesman sample canoes would be of great interest to a few people over at the Wooden Canoe Heritage arse'n. You might consider providing some detailed photos and information to the group: http://forums.wcha.org/index.php?forums/wood-and-canvas.6/

Aside from that, thanks for your post. That's an interesting survivor of an earlier time when canoeing was enjoyed by loads of people in cities. Thank you.

Jatfomike, those Old Town salesman sample canoes would be of great interest to a few people over at the Wooden Canoe Heritage arse'n. You might consider providing some detailed photos and information to the group: http://forums.wcha.org/index.php?forums/wood-and-canvas.6/

Aside from that, thanks for your post. That's an interesting survivor of an earlier time when canoeing was enjoyed by loads of people in cities. Thank you.

I can do that! A number of years ago someone from the WCHA came out to the club and did an article on it for their publication…..in addition to the salesman sample, we have 3 oldtown war boats the newest of which was purchased by the club in the 20’s…..all 3 still in use by the club….

Thanks for posting that. It's a tribute to the city of Dayton and clear evidence that Dayton has had generations of quality people hanging out down on the river. Sounds like my kind of place. I hope clubs like that become all the rage again.
Yeah, that's great you're involved with that local bit of canoe history, I hope you can keep it going.

Those salesman samples are worth a lot more than the full sized canoes from that era are. I think they go for over than ten grand.
Wow. Back in 1989 I was offered a job at the University of Dayton, which I turned down after very a very difficult decision making process. One of the negative factors about Dayton, I surmised, was modest canoeing opportunities. Had I known about this facility and history, my canoeing assumptions would have been different.
40 years ago, the rivers were cesspools….in some areas, devoid of life…..a lot has changed since then thankfully. They aren’t perfect, but very much improved. A lot of the wildlife has come back including bald eagles….two mating pairs within the city limits on the rivers for the past 10 years. During late Winter when most of the area water has frozen, there is a stretch downtown at the confluence of the Mad River and Great Miami where eagles and Osprey from all over the area come to hunt in the mornings…..I’ve seen as many as 13 at once in the center of downtown hunting on the river. I’ll post some more photos of the club and some of its neat features over the next few days…..there are a lot of wood canvas canoes 🛶 n the lockers….many rigged for sailing…..unfortunately many of those members have gotten up there in age and rarely if ever get their boats out.

If you refer back to the map in my first post, just North of the club you will see the confluence of the Stillwater and Great Miami.....nestled in between the two rivers is "TrianglePark".....owned by the city since the late 1800's, has been the site of military encampments from the days of the "French and Indian Wars up thru WWI.......Since then, a couple of neat historic tidbits are....the baseball field you see in the above picture was built in the 1950's and is still heavily used by both a local high school as well as a community college team. At the end of those seasons, a college summer league plays there as well as an adult over thirty league. Because of it's location in the "inner city", MLB provides $ for the upkeep/maintenance of the field. This baseball field is also the field where Pete Rose played his last "amateur" game.....he signed a contract with the Reds the next day .....You can't see it in this photo, but just outside of the left field fence is a bronze "Historical" marker commemorating the first "NFL" football game played....... it occurred here at "Triangle Stadium" the site of which is now a paved parking lot for the baseball field.

Looking South from the club dock, is "Deeds Point" which is a small Metropark nestled in between the GMR and Mad River.....If you have ever read "The Frontiersman" by Allen Eckert, Deed's point is referenced several times with footnotes primarily dealing with military encampments from that era. At the confluence of those two rivers are five fountains in the river that spray for 10 minutes every hour on the hour between Memorial Day and Labor Day. They don't spray river water, but water from the aquifer 100's of feet below ground......The water is freaking cold! Just below the fountains on the GMR are two man made whitewater play areas popular with the local paddling communities as well as surfers. Again referencing the map, if you look upstream on the Mad River, you will see Eastwood Metropark . There is a nice launch at the park entrance with a short paddle down to the middle of the park where you will find another manmade whitewater play area. You can then continue on downstream to the fountains.....My buddies and I last paddled that stretch together back in mid-September.....because the fountains were late being turned on this year due to repairs done to a pedestrian/bike bridge in the fountain spray zone they extended them to the last weekend of September.....Naturally the one day we were able to plan a get together, the temperature was in the mid 90's F........at the end, we wound up floating in the fountains to cool off....after the initial shock, it felt pretty good! We then put our canoes away and reconvened at a nearby brewery for pizza/beer......


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The following photos were shot in the “Commodores “ room…..basically a casual sitting room with windows overlooking the river and one of the club trophy cases. There are also 3 canoe models hanging in there. The first one is an 8’ Oldtown given to the club in 1917 after ordering an entire freight cars worth of canoes. The club name was painted on the hull at the factory. The other two canoes are 3’ long Carletons not sure when the club received those….but am going to try and figure that out…..the paperwork is somewhere at the club. I also included two of my favorite framed works hanging in the room.
I apologize for the poor quality of these photos, but I am taking them with my phone and the lighting is very poor…..the above photos are of the “ballroom” also used as meeting room and dining room. It has been kept pretty close to its original condition/appearance. Several years ago, members very meticulously/lovingly removed each board from the wall/ceiling and numbered them, stripped/sanded, refinished to original color and replaced…..as you can imagine, there was a lot of “smoke” damage as cigarette smoking was quite the “thing” back then. To the left of the ballroom overlooking the river is the “veranda” with all original windows. In good weather they are opened to catch the breeze off the river and you can sit and enjoy the view….during club functions, a buffet line is set up in there as well.
The next couple of photos are in the boat locker area……

As you can imagine, the club has a number of historically significant canoes……if people are interested, weather permitting…..I will drag some of them outside where the lighting is better and take good photos of them….maybe post them in the wood boats section.🤷‍♂️

Fantastic. Not sure I’d leave…

It’s easy to get lost in there…..you could spend hours stumbling around looking at photos, scrap books and just the building in general…..my wife and I volunteered in the kitchen yesterday for the annual New Years Day dinner and I kept getting drug out and sucked into various canoeing conversations….all of the boat lockers have hasps on them , but the vast majority are unlocked….a favorite member pastime is to walk the locker area and respectfully “peak” into the lockers and see what is behind the door…..speaking of lockers, it is actually written in the bylaws that members must be out of their lockers by 10:30 in the morning….as much as the club is about paddling, there is also a social aspect with balls and parties and it wasn’t uncommon for members to “sleep it off” in their canoe locker…😂