Rinker Buck, local firewood cutter, entrepreneur and author, reached his destination in New Orleans after a three month journey aboard flatboat, Patience.
Rinker started from Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, 15 miles upstream of Pittsburgh in early July on the Monongahela River. He, flatboat Patience and crew, set out to retrace the river trip to the Mississippi with final destination New Orleans. Historically, river commerce was a way of life presenting the adventuresome an opportunity to sell and barter goods while passing river towns along the way.
Mr. Buck is no stranger to adventure. Two previous books, “Flight of Passage” and “The Oregon Trail,” chronicled unique travel experiences. Flying in a Piper Cub, rebuilt in 1966, from New Jersey to California, he and his older brother, without electronics, warmed Rinker up (then age 15) for the later trek across the Oregon Trail with another brother, Nick, well known from our Midcoast region. That trip required three mules, a wagon and some thick skin. Great reading for long winter nights!
I met Rinker a couple years back when he needed an author photo for “The Oregon Trail” book. We thrashed around in the Damariscotta waterfront parking lot and came up with an image he could use. At that time he mentioned the flatboat idea and we hashed out a plan for me to visit during the boat's construction.
In mid-May, I flew to Nashville and rented a car for a quick drive to Gallatin, Tennessee, home of premiere flatboat builder John Cooper, on a farm well situated for materials and personality. Rinker lived on the property and worked closely with John on the project. Interestingly, Rinker's boat was also to be used for the recreation of a famous painting scene by George Caleb Bingham. National Geographic planned to film the boat for a series of days on the Cumberland River.
The photo above was made at launch, a pretty bare bones image of the then unnamed flatboat with considerable additional work needed before the final trip up to Pittsburgh.
It will be a while before Rinker gets his book put together, but you can count on a dandy. He has lots of material to be sure.