The earliest settlers in Louisiana manufactured dugout canoes for the purpose of trapping, hunting, trade, and transportation. During that time, most people lived near the water and having the ability to navigate by water was a necessity. Dugout pirogues were hollowed out trunks of cypress that were hand planed into the shape of a boat. As shaped lumber and modern tools became more readily available, the "modern" pirogue as we know it began to take shape. Early plank pirogues were made completely from cypress, including the bottom. By the 1920's plank pirogues had all but completely replaced dugout canoes.
In later years, Cypress Pirogues were typically built by individuals in the back yard. Once completed, they would place the unpainted pirogue out by the road indicating that is was for sale. There are still some people making pirogues out of their back yards today. Unfortunately, most of these people have a gross misunderstanding of how to build a proper cypress pirogue that both paddles well and is maneuverable. I suspect this is because most of the original cypress pirogues were long ago distroyed and there are no templates to go off of. Fortunately for us, we have in our possesion, pirogues that were built as early as the 1950's.
In the 1980's, manufacturers began building pirogues made primarily of fiberglass. It brought the price down due to the fact that one person could make many in a day at a lower cost. This gave them the opportunity to build them ultra light because a fiberglass pirogue is essentially void of any seams. Esentially, you can build a paperthin fiberglas pirogue and it will float and keep water out. So, that is exactly what happened. Manufacturers began making pirogues paper thin to bring down production costs and reduce weight which was a great marketing scheme. Unfortunately for the consumer, this resulted in broken hulls.
Fiberglass resin is susceptible to UV rays and eventually causes it to chalk and get soft spots. So, to solve this, some manufacturers began building them beefier to increase the strength and rigidity. That being so, they have increased the weight to over 70lbs. This is far beyond the weight of an equivalently sized pirogue made out of cypress. The price nearly doubled as well because of increased material and manufacturing costs.
Fiberglass pirogues are becoming heavier than cypress as durability concerns are addressed. Price is now competitively priced with cypress because of increased material cost. Fiberglass pirogues just don't make as much since as they used to.
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