Photo credit: M.C. Wootton , 10/1983

Property Name: MAGIC (log canoe)
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Inventory No.: T-506
Location: West Harbor Road, St. Michaels, Talbot County

Description: MAGIC is a sailing log canoe in the racing fleet. Built on St. Mary's Square in St. Michaels, Maryland in 1894 by Charles Tarr, the canoe measures 34'-3 5/8" long with a beam of 6'-11". She has a longhead bow and a raking sharp stern. Log-built, she has a lapped sheer strake topped with a rubrail. The boat is privately owned and has been raced by members of the same family since 1925. She has a white-painted hull, fiberglassed over, and varnished washboards and spars, with a white bowsprit and a long bumpkin. The canoe shows typical Tilghman-style 5-log construction in the hull, with a lapped uppermost (sheer) strake and rubrail. Strip-planked washboards form a peapod-shaped cockpit, lined with a varnished coaming and topped with short cleat railings amidships. There are solid stern sheets beneath the washboards at the stern and a wooden centerboard trunk placed well forward. There is a straight, raking bow with a small longhead and a sharp, raking stern, on which the rudder is hung outboard on pintles. A long bumpkin, painted white, overhangs the stern. The canoe carries moveable springboards for racing. The rig consists of two adjustable masts whose angle can be changed using wooden chocks. The masts are set into thwarts and mast steps in a "square" system. The mainmast, 47 1/2' long, is unstayed. The foremast, 34' long, is set up with two shrouds and spreaders set well down the mast. A forestay leads to the end of the bowsprit, which is set up with heavy standing rigging--a wire bobstay and two wire bowsprit shrouds. Foresail and mainsail are clubbed and have sprits; they are dacron sails locally made by Ellison. The canoe also carries a large jib and various light racing sails. The canoe’s hull is painted white, with blackish-green bottom paint and a racing stripe above the waterline. The name MAGIC is painted in large script gilt letters directly on the hull. The longhead is decorated with two parallel sets of stripe beading, white with dark red accents, rather than trailboards. The washboards are highly varnished, as are the centerboard and spars except for the bowsprit, which is white.

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. MAGIC is significant for being one of the older surviving canoes, having been built in the peak popularity years of the 1890s by Charles Tarr, a noted builder of the period. In the early years of this century MAGIC was converted to power and served as a commercial oystering vessel until 1924 when she was bought by George H. Wilson and returned to her sailing rig. After her conversion MAGIC proved to be one of the fastest canoes on the Bay, winning the first Governor's Cup race in 1927 and, in the years since, winning it more times than any other canoe. She is still owned and raced by the same family--the Wilsons--who acquired and restored her in 1924. Because of her successful racing career MAGIC is one of the better known of the log canoes.




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