To mark the 50th anniversary of the first commercial dory trips in Idaho, OARS is pleased to present Dory Land. It’s a new film that is at once a celebration and a love story to Idaho’s rivers and guides. The film by Logan Bockrath takes an inside look at the community built in Idaho around wooden boats and free-flowing rivers over the last 50 years.
In 1972, renowned conservationist and Grand Canyon Dories founder Martin Litton asked river guide Curt Chang if he’d like to take some boats and a crew to run the Snake River through Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America. After an initial scouting trip, Chang launched Litton’s Idaho dory operation out of his family’s backyard before eventually building a boathouse in Lewiston.
“My job was to introduce our Grand Canyon dory boats to Idaho’s legendary rivers and share Idaho’s wild rivers with our guests,” Chang said. “We came and started running trips. There was nobody out here. The mail boat was the only jet boat that we saw.”
After their start in 1972, business doubled every year. To keep up with demand, Chang recruited his ski buddies as river guides. They crashed in his backyard, with one guide fixing up and sleeping in an old chicken coop. “The neighborhood definitely went downhill when we arrived,” the now 74-year-old Chang laughed. “The people here didn’t know what to make of us.”
Fifty years later, Chang and OARS continue to carry on the legacy of dories in Idaho and throughout the Western U.S. In 1987, Litton sold his Grand Canyon Dories operation to OARS founder George Wendt. The Idaho operation remained separate until 1991 when Chang ultimately sold the business to OARS. Since then, he’s stayed at the helm to help manage the company’s Idaho outpost and foster the next generation of dory guides.
Watch Dory Land here: https://www.oars.com/video/dory-land/