There is a simple, undeniable magic in water. Its quiet voice calls to something inside each of us. The steady flow of a river inspires a need to know what lies around the next bend. We build our cities, our homes, at the end of the land’s reach, as near the water’s edge as possible.
Sanborn Canoe Co. proudly calls the banks of the Mississippi River home. This home is built on a sandbar at the bottom of a river valley, 500 feet below the surrounding, tree-covered bluffs. The river lies at the heart of an area called the Driftless Region. Named for the way the grinding drift of glaciers in the last ice passed around this area. While the glaciers scraped and flattened the surrounding regions, passing by the Driftless left the water’s work over millennia unscathed. Meandering rivers bounded by towering cliffs. Caves hidden among deep dells.
The Driftless covers portions of four states: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The geography is as diverse and interesting as the people who call the area home. This region is rife with rivalry but the best rivalries come out of an unspoken recognition of commonality. We may be different but the magic of rushing rivers, still pools, unplumbed depths, draws us all together. To celebrate this, we’ve borrowed a name from each of the four states to name the paddles of this collection; Maquoketa, Fever, Cannon and Mescousing.
These names have assorted origins including from the Meskwaki people of northern Iowa, the Fox tribes of Wisconsin, the French explorers, and the English speakers who struggled to pronounce these “foreign” words. People have been gathering on these river banks to trade goods, swap stories, cast a line, or find inspiration long before these names ever took hold and will continue long after they’ve been forgotten.
Our collective memory is short but rivers tell stories beyond recollection. We push our small vessels out into the waves and join the current of something much deeper than this single moment. Tribes and people's. Rivers timeless, from diverse and distant origins come together. Converge and continue on, together.
“Look! Here come the crowds, pacing straight for the water. Seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremist limit of the land. Say you are in the country. Take almost any path you please and ten to one it carries you down in a dale and leaves you there by a pool in the stream.” -Herman Melville