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Pages of History: July 1949

From the pages of the Del Norte Triplicate, July 1949.

They ran the Klamath— but ‘once is enough’

The Klamath River is tough, merciless. No one knows better than Oscar Taylor and Merton “Slim” Coates, the two Klamath men who recently made history by being the first to run the swift, treacherous waters from Yreka to Klamath.

Boulders as big as cottages, falls with 15–20-foot drops, they lost count of the number. But they never lost an oar and sheared but two propeller shaft pins in the entire 176 miles, although the drive line housing cracked and left only two slim water tubes to support and steady the motor, greatly reducing the speed.

The race, in which the only other entrants, Vernon and Loren Myers of Klamath, early lost their boat and were forced out, began near Yreka on July 8 at 5:25 a.m. By 7:30 p.m. that evening, the Myers brothers were out of the race and Coates and Taylor had made 66 miles.

That second day, Taylor said, was the toughest day of all. Telling of the long runs down canyons and over falls, Taylor goes on to say that he was most scared during the run below Happy Camp through the steep-walled canyon.

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