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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: M.C. Wootton, 05/1984
BILLIE P. HALL (log canoe)
Inventory No.: T-498
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Location: Evergreen Road , Oxford, Talbot County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1903
Architect/Builder: Builder: Charles Tarr
Description: BILLIE P. HALL is a 34'-2" sailing log canoe with two masts and a racing rig. She was built "to beat the MAGIC" in 1903 by Charles Tarr of St. Michaels. Converted to power and used for tonging oysters, she was returned to sailing rig in 1963 and has been racing as No. 5 since then. She is double-ended, with a longhead bow and a sharp raking stern, on which a rudder is hung. Log-built with carvel-fitted rising planks, she has a beam of 7'-1 1/4". Her hull has been fiberglassed over and is finished white with green bottom paint offset by a black strip and light green washboards. The canoe is privately owned. The boat has typical Tilghman-style log construction, with carvel-fitted rising planks and flat washboards, supported by hanging knees, overhanging the sides to form a rubrail at the sheer. In shape, she has an S-shaped sheer rising to a long, curving, squared-off bowsprit, forming a modified clipper bow. The sharp stern is steeply raking. A frame outrigger, or bumpkin, with wooden grips and a metal frame backrest, overhanging the stern. Seated here a crew member can handle the mainsail. The bowsprit is set up with heavy standing rigging--two wire bowsprit shrouds, a wire bobstay, and a forestay and jibstay leading to the top of the foremast. Like most of the Tilghman canoes, she is built of 5 logs. The sailing rig consists of two masts with adjustable rake, set into square steps in the thwarts fore and aft. The 47' foremast is stayed with two foremast shrouds, spreaders, forestay, and jibstay, but the 38' high mainmast is unstayed. The boat has a racing rig consisting of main and foresail with clubs and sprits, a large jib, and light sails depending on weather, notably a bright green kite with a gold harp on it. Cleat rails are set atop the washboards. Lacking auxiliary power, the boat sails or is towed to and from races. Racing gear, in addition to assorted sails, includes springboards for balance. The peapod-shaped interior is open except for narrow, flat washboards (painted light green) lined with a white cockpit coaming, two thwarts, and a large centerboard trunk. The hull is painted white with light green trim. The name BILLIE P. HALL is painted in large black script letters on the hull. The longhead is finished plain white with wooden beading. There are no trailboards. Significance: This vessel is significant as being one of the last 22 surviving traditional Chesapeake Bay racing log canoes that carry on a tradition of racing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that has existed since the 1840s. In addition, it is a surviving representative of the oldest indigenous type of boat on the Bay--the working log canoe--which was developed in the 17th century by early European settlers from the aboriginal dugout canoe. Used for transportation and for harvesting the rich bounty of the Bay, log canoes changed little over the centuries. BILLIE P. HALL is significant as having been built by Charles Tarr in 1903, the builder of the well-known MAGIC of 1894. She was built specifically for racing, "to beat the MAGIC," and raced until 1912. In that year she was converted to power by the Dyott family of St. Michaels and was used for longing oysters until 1963 when she was purchased by Edward Morris and returned to her racing rig. In her first race in 1965 she placed second and in 1966 proved her ability by winning the Governor's Cup at the Miles River Regatta.

 

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