"I grew up on the banks of the Red River in a cypress shack. My grandfather and I built our own pirogue and used it to catch fish for our dinner. When I told my grandson about it, he asked, ‘Can we build one too?" And that’s how we got started."
Cliff Dodge, of Rayville, thought that building a pirogue would be a great way to spend time with his grandson and so, in January 2009, they gathered together a stack of cypress lumber and went to work.
In days gone by, pirogues had been fashioned from a single dug-out tree, but the pirogue that Cliff and his grandson Robert would build was a more modern design enhancing its stability and maneuverability. They also built water-tight storage compartments at both ends of the craft and added a rudder that Cliff refers to as a "rudderizer." The rudderizer serves as steering device and a stabilizing device. Cliff claimed the boat was almost impossible to sink.
Built to be paddled by two people, Cliff and his grandson planned to row their boat from Monroe to New Orleans, navigating the Ouachita to the Black River to the Red River and the Atchafalaya, finishing their journey dodging tugboats, barges and riverboats on the Mississippi River.
ACT No. 134
Regular Session, 2012
HOUSE BILL NO. 746
BY REPRESENTATIVES CHANEY, ADAMS, ARMES, BERTHELOT, HENRY BURNS, CARMODY, COX, GAINES, GISCLAIR, GUINN, HILL, HODGES, HUVAL, KATRINA JACKSON, JONES, LEBAS, LEOPOLD, ORTEGO, PIERRE, PUGH, REYNOLDS, SCHEXNAYDER, SIMON, AND ST. GERMAIN AND SENATORS RISER, THOMPSON, AND WALSWORTH
To enact R.S. 49:170.17, relative to state symbols; to provide for the official state boat; and to provide for related matters.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:
Section 1. R.S. 49:170.17 is hereby enacted to read as follows:
§170.17. State boat
There shall be an official state boat, which shall be the pirogue. The use of its likeness or image on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.
The pirogue was adopted as the official state boat of Louisiana when Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Concurrent Resolution No. 746 on May 14, 2012.
Chaney, Charles R. The State of Louisiana. Louisiana State Legislature. House Bill No. 746. Baton Rouge: The State of Louisiana, 2012. Web.
McLellan, Tara. "Pirogue journey brings awareness to local Kids Wanna Help group." Times-Picayune [New Orleans] 18 Oct 2011, n. pag. Web. 16 May. 2012.
Riser, Darryl. "Grandfather, grandson build pirogue." Richland Beacon-News [Rayville] 09 Jul 2009, n. pag. Web. 16 May. 2012.