Harvey Golden is a case of curiosity run amok.
As the sole curator of the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum (5340 SE Lincoln St., 503-234-0264, traditionalkayaks.com) Golden is an expert on all things related to historic Arctic hunting kayaks—an extremely niche field of research. He has handcrafted over 65 historically accurate boats out of his one-car garage, which are now on display in the space at 54th and Lincoln, formerly a long-standing corner grocery and later a hair salon.
But back in the mid-'90s, when he decided to build his first kayak, he never been in a kayak before, and he barely knew how to swim.
"I saw a book that showed all the different arctic kayak types, and just the different shapes and sizes really captured my imagination," says Golden, a former lumber salesman. "Right then and there, I decided to build one of every type just to see what they were like.
"It went from one day wanting to have my own boat and not having money to buy it, so I built it, and then building another and another and another—and then this."
The museum was largely the answer to a storage problem—65 18-foot-long boats don't quite fit in a living room. The showroom is lined floor to ceiling with Golden's full-sized replicas and currently contains more than 100 models, all based on original artifacts that Harvey has traveled around the world to document.
Nearly every boat in the museum has been in water, mostly on the Columbia River. Examining how the boats handle in sea conditions allows Harvey to see what it would have been like for Inuit people to use them.
"The Columbia on the worst days can get 80-mile-an-hour winds in the Gorge in the middle of winter, which is often what one might experience in the Arctic conditions, anyway," he says. "The boats are built to take it."
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