Blog

The Seven Wonders of Portsmouth

Post by honorary shipmate Andrew Feight Shanty Dotty on the…

View more

The Tillers – Shanty Boat at Payne Hollow Kentucky [VIDEO]

By and by, I’ll be coming up on Payne Hollow,…

View more

Secret History at Santa Cruz Ebb & Flow

Thanks to friends who hung out with us and sent…

View more

Less terror: The shantyboat is fitted for a new winch post [VIDEO]

The Shantyboat takes a field trip down to Watsonville to…

View more

Michael Swett – Just One Thing at a Time [VIDEO]

This is an excerpt of my interview with Michael Swett.…

View more

Vrinda Quintero – To Me the River Is [VIDEO]

Excerpt of interview with Vrinda Quintero about growing up in…

View more

Marietta Times: Artist will stop in Marietta on Ohio River journey

The culture of people who have grown up and lived…

View more

Shantyboat Dotty in Felton Remembers Parade [VIDEO]

Shantyboat Dotty and crew in Felton Remember Parade

View more

Exploring Our Very Own San Lorenzo River

This year, the folks at the arts council making Ebb…

View more

Roland Law’s Wildest Dream for the San Lorenzo River [VIDEO]

Roland Law talks about his conservation work along the banks…

View more

George Ow Jr Tells Us About Chinatowns along the San Lorenzo River [VIDEO]

An interview with George Ow Jr. along the banks of…

View more

Interview with Leo Cruz along the San Lorenzo River [VIDEO]

Interview with Leo Cruz about growing up near a river…

View more

We Need Your Help

This year, the project is exploring the rich and important American…

View more

Sea King

This is the new SEA KING outboard motor we bought…

View more

An Exhibition at Louisville’s Portland Museum

In early February, we staged an exhibition at Portland Museum…

View more

The “Mad” Ohio: the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937

The greatest natural disaster in Tri-State history happened in January-February…

View more

Flatboatmen of the Frontier 1941 Ohio River Valley Documentary [VIDEO]

Enjoy this charming (and educational) 1941 documentary covers the process…

View more

River Tramps: The Strange Floating Population Found on the Ohio

Where shantyboat history has been hard to come by on…

View more

Searching for Living Native History in the Ohio River Valley

I've been going crazy all evening looking for native people…

View more

Remembering Tom Holman creator of Bomfire Pizza in Sabula, Iowa

There simply is not enough that can be said about…

View more

Honoring Tim Mason and the Floating Shantyboat Library

I just found out that the world has become poorer…

View more

We’re Headed to the Ohio River

We are happy to announce that in summer 2019 the…

View more

River Voices (Unofficial Cut) – 2018 Trailer

A collaboration between artists Wes Modes and Lauren Kincaid-Filbey

View more

Best Friend I’ve Never Met

For many years I’ve had a total friend crush on…

View more

A Word About Process

A word about process. And an exploration of the dérive,…

View more

Thinking more about environmental toxins

“For over 45 years, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has been…

View more

If we mention that old river towns are dying, we really mean they are being killed [VIDEO]

In the towns we’ve visited across America, the historic heart…

View more

We are on the water!

Just a quick note to let you know that yes,…

View more

We Outta Here

A flurry of activity and a world of underestimation

View more

What This Means

Sometimes as the world falls apart, as the drumbeats of…

View more

I live on a shantyboat and float major American Rivers to hear people’s stories. Ask me anything

  Our Reddit AMA is live now at https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/8fd7y9/i_live_on_a_shantyboat_and_float_major_american/ We wanted…

View more

New York Exhibition Walkthrough [VIDEO]

In July 2018, WhiteBox Art Space in New York is…

View more

Where we’ll be when on the Hudson River

As you know we are busy preparing our journey on the…

View more
5095927731_9ac6d862bc_b.jpg

Furgary Boat Club & Shantytown [VIDEO]

In the city of Hudson, known to tourists for its…

View more

BBC Slow Radio – Life on a shanty boat [AUDIO]

A 20-minute watery odyssey - idling down the Tennessee River…

View more

BBC Outlook – Building my own ‘shanty boat’ [AUDIO]

Wes Modes has spent the last few summers sailing along…

View more

BBC Between The Ears – The Shanty Boat [AUDIO]

In a rich tapestry of watery atmosphere, frustration, intimacy, fear…

View more

We’re Headed to New York

The Hudson River: Environmental fights. Mahican, Munsee and Wappinger removals.…

View more

We’re Headed to New York

The Hudson River: Environmental fights. Mahican, Munsee and Wappinger removals.…

View more

The Mysteries of America’s Only Town Built By and For Chinese

We explore various delta towns, including a rare Chinese rural…

View more

Busy Busy Busy in the State Capitol

Exhibits, new friends, interviews, party boats, and beachcombing in Sacramento

View more

Beautiful Places Between This and That

After Colusa, the character of the river changed. The levees…

View more

Tell Us About Shantyboat Communities

Everywhere we go, we keep hearing that once upon a…

View more

Closest Thing to Civilization Between Red Bluff and Sac

We’d been looking forward to our arrival in Colusa. Not…

View more

A Wild River

A treacherous adventure down a hazard-choked river - Rides from…

View more

Fits and Starts

I’m struggling with how to describe our strange fits-and-starts launch…

View more

Okay, we’re off

After months of prep, a month-long fundraiser, weeks of long…

View more

Are We Going To Die on the Sacramento River?

There are a few things that worry me. Because of…

View more

What River is Next?

People ask us all the time, "What river will we…

View more

Working Working Working

Less than two weeks before we launch. We've been doing…

View more

River Voices – 2017 Trailer [VIDEO]

After 3 years of fieldwork, 1000 river miles, 15,000 road…

View more

A River Playlist [AUDIO]

A music playlist that you can use as the moody…

View more

Great rewards – Check out the Kickstarter

The work we do with the Secret History of American…

View more

How shantyboats helped build a culture [VIDEO]

A great video about the project by Kirsten Dirksen “I…

View more

Fair Companies: How shantyboats down the Mississippi helped build a culture

Long before Wes Modes began planning a journey down the…

View more

Outfit the Shantyboat

As part of our upcoming fundraiser to support our summer…

View more
CGDe8wPUMAAXNTn.jpg

Ask Me Anything!

We did a Reddit AMA. We've done AMAs in 2014…

View more

Looking Back at the War Against the Dakota People in Minnesota [AUDIO]

I was reminded of these interviews recently, and how little…

View more
s1uY4D4tgRvRwFL3gwiqyAEfYJgrTRr_QxZQHd7Miae0D-WiSyktgEn0u5Z9_9ZF9xIBF05tmmSWBpQQEVxpKPyc1qEvbo51MZ64hjt8dKcrnskTqsxPKOMQpqEXUXJ6ICNFv-g1miZt7zFQItneTLJbxeuYFmR0MiPf8eEs0-d-e1-ft.jpg

People ask all the time about how the shantyboat was built

Now, all of the shantyboat build process is available on…

View more

Freddie’s Dead

You may remember that our 1978 20 hp Mercury outboard…

View more

This Summer’s Expedition on the Sacramento River

In previous years, Modes has exhibited the project in the…

View more

A Journey Home

Two weeks in Paducah and then a hellbent journey across…

View more

Oh no! Freddie’s transmission died in the middle of Lake Kentucky

Oh no! We lost the rest of Freddie's transmission in…

View more
13767457_318960208449880_2007966649_n.jpg

Secret History is largely a donation supported project and your…

View more

Gene Davidson owner of the Clifton Marina

We talked to Gene Davidson who owns the Clifton Marina.…

View more

Glen Lineberry worked on towboats for 50 years

He worked for 40 years on line towboats that would…

View more

Tori Bailey of WZZA Soul Radio

We very nearly interviewed Tori Bailey, possibly the busiest person…

View more

Emma Lee Dean-Dykes Troup, openly trans woman in small town Alabama

Interview with Emma Lee Dean-Dyke Troup, openly trans woman in…

View more

Bob Perry, Chickasaw elder and Annie Perry, knowledgable about the history of the area

Interview with Bob & Annie Perry at Tuscumbia Landing. Bob…

View more

An interview with artist Butch Anthony literally sitting in Cypress Creek [AUDIO]

An interview with artist Butch Anthony literally sitting in Cypress…

View more

Join us for a Secret History exhibition at Kennedy Douglass…

View more

Florence Courier-Journal: The River’s Life and People

A rustic recreated 1940s shanty boat, a daring river voyage,…

View more

A Morning with Zachary Nelson [AUDIO]

We ran into Zach Nelson while we were docked at…

View more

Sonnie Hereford, Civil Rights Pioneer

We were fortunate to be able to talk to Sonnie…

View more

An Interview with the Arsenal Archaeologist

I had the opportunity to interview Ben Hoksbergen, archaeologist for…

View more

Doris Turner – What does the river mean to you? [VIDEO]

Excerpt from interview with Dorris Turner in Guntersville, Alabama along…

View more
expicsfeb1911841710507_t1070_hcfbd0d25d776f5ff7ff14970ff33e9da702227ee.jpg

TVA bans new floating homes, but allows existing homes to stay

Since the 1950s, floating homes on the water have been…

View more

Knoxville Mercury: Life Aboard the Shantyboat Dotty [SLIDESHOW]

Knoxville Mercury By Clay Duda [metaslider id=5031]

View more

An Hour of Cicadas [AUDIO]

Want to know what these warm summer nights sound like?…

View more

Gifts From Strangers

We are constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers. We…

View more

Sam Houston and the Secret History of Hiwassee Island

He ran away from home and lived with an eccentric…

View more

The Problem with Large Boats

"Every year, boats are getting bigger and bigger." Numerous people…

View more
13551847_891205194358541_534757094_n.jpg

Knoxville, Tennessee

We are in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee where the weather is…

View more
13422872_1580787878886515_861114188_n.jpg

How You Make This Project Happen

I’ve already mentioned to you that the Secret History project…

View more
13397535_1726719994243465_1260379534_n.jpg

So Far So Good

As I type we are speeding down an Oklahoma highway…

View more
13437395_581631232005919_160456901_n.jpg

The Battle Against the Ever-Growing Ever-Multiplying ToDo List Monster

Oh god. Down to a matter of hours before we…

View more
13397688_101577216934679_1314910271_n.jpg

Preparing the Shantyboat

We've been working like mad to get the boat ready…

View more
13329232_1609216806030845_851629746_n.jpg

A Crazy Plan to Launch the Shantyboat in the Ocean [Video]

We launched in the Santa Cruz Harbor yesterday and pulled the boat…

View more

Kickstarter: Just a Few Days Left and Almost There

We are trying to raise $5580 before May 31st to…

View more

A Tangle of Wires, Shredded Tin, and a Descent Into Madness

Just a few weeks until we leave! Aaaa! Panic! Electrical…

View more

What the hell are we doing?

Well, there is some beer drinking, some power tool noises,…

View more

Going Into the Third Year of This Successful Project

Thanks to you, the second year expedition of the Secret…

View more

Fundraising for the Tennessee River

I’m excited to tell you that the Secret History project…

View more

Shantyboat Near Dubuque, Iowa [VIDEO]

Shanytboat video taken by the Open Research Buoy.

View more

Shanty Boat Blues [Audio]

Jimmy Murphy recorded Shanty Boat Blues sometimes in the late…

View more

A Magical Gathering of Artists

Minneapolis successfully attempts to woo us with its charms.

View more

Farting Around Muscatine and a Sudden Road Trip

We explore small town Iowa life and take a brief…

View more

The Final Fate of the Shantyboat Dotty and a Question

What became of us? What became of the Shantyboat Doty?…

View more

The Pearl Button Capital of the World

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Mississippi River…

View more

Mark Twain’s Favorite View of the River

In Muscatine, Iowa there is a point overlooking the river…

View more