George James has built a lot of things in his life. He's strung together moccasins that have been dispersed aall around the country, he's made dulcimers, and rowboats and canoes. Building things with his hands has been something instilled in him since his youth.
“My father would build things,” says James. “It's something that I was always taught. Why go spend a lot of money on something when you can learn to build it yourself and spend far less?”
Though he's made it a habit of fashioning a variety of things for his own use as well as use by others, one thing in particular has almost always been a constant for James; the construction of boats.
According to James, once he retired from the Air Force he found himself in need of a hobby to help pass the time. From there, the rest is history. He decided to build a rowboat.
“Everybody needs a hobby or they'll go crazy,” he said as he admired his work on the canoe located at the FROG Headquarters.
He's now lived in Franklin for more than 21 years and his work can often be seen riding on tops of vehicles around town or behind the counter at Outdoor 76. In fact, word has been spreading to the point that now there are others taking notice and trying to build their own canoes in a similar fashion.
“There are a few people around Franklin who have begun to build their own boats. You may not see them, but there's more than you would think,” James said.
In fact, a hand made vessel can be purchased at Outdoor 76 or if somebody is interested in entering a raffle drawing instead, they may just win one that James has allowed FROGS (Friends of the Greenway) to sell chances on with all of the proceeds going to the benefit of the Greenway.
The canoe is one of about 20 that he's made since he first began to craft the vessels. It is made from white pine trees with hints of Sassafras and took 100 hours to complete. It is a 13-foot, one-seater and can be used by people of all shapes and sizes. Though it could go over more difficult terrain, he recommends that the lucky recipient use it in calmer waters.
“You could go over rocky areas if you wanted to. If there's any dings in in the surface, just throw some epoxy on it and you'd never know the difference, but this boat in particular, would be perfect for paddling around right out here on the Little Tennessee,” he said.
Anyone who is interested in purchasing a chance to win the canoe can visit the FROGS Quarters located at 573 East Main Street. A chance can be purchased for $10 and only 150 tickets are available. The drawing will be held at the River Fest event on Aug. 23 at 3 p.m.