Restoring Hetch Hetchy - the boat!

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth

doing as simply messing about in boats.” 

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.


The Hetch Hetchy sits in Brad Dimock's Flagstaff warehouse before the restoration process began.


We received an exciting email last week from Brad Dimock telling us that he had begun restoring the Hetch Hetchy, a dory built for and named by legendary Grand Canyon boatman Martin Litton.

First apologies to dory aficionados for using the term "boat" in the email header. Calling a dory a boat is akin to calling Mozart a musician - it's accurate, but it doesn't really tell the story. Dimock's "Boats of Steel" blog provides an excellent recap of the dories Litton used in the Grand Canyon and on other western rivers. For an epic story of dories, the Grand Canyon, water and power, development of the west, environmental preservation and some very daring adventurers, read The Emerald Mile, by Kevin Fedarko.

In addition to pioneering the use of dories in the Grand Canyon, Litton played an important role in many conservation efforts and was a close colleague of the Sierra Club's David Brower and writer Edward Abbey. When he passed in 2014, I wrote an account of my first interaction with him at a Congressional hearing in the early 1990's called "Fire in the Spreadsheet".

Brad Dimock is also a boatman and author. His name is well-known in the Grand Canyon community among the hardy men and women who carve a living in the gorge carved by the mighty Colorado River. Dimock's love of the river extends to everything associated with it, including the boats. In Sketchy Sketchy, he conveys his own, as well as others', compulsion to repair the Hetch Hetchy. In Patchy Patchy, he concedes that it would have been easier to simply build new boat. Brad asks whether it is "goofy" to savor every original part he can save.

It's a rhetorical question. The answer is obviously not.

We have discussed with Brad how we might use the boat in the campaign to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley. It would be a fun photo op on the reservoir, but no one wants to be arrested so we will have to think of something else.

Any ideas?