Groping Toward Julius


Buzz Holmstrom named his boat after the benefactor of his second journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers, Julius F. Stone. Stone was among the first to notice Holmstrom's uncommon genius, but far from the last. Nearly seven decades later several far-flung gentlemen are trying to unlock the mysteries of Buzz Holmstrom's amazing boat. Roger Fletcher, a boat historian and modeler from Oregon who has recovered the lines of several vintage Oregon boats, is using the old methods of ruler, paper, handcarved wooden plugs, and scale models to recreate the boat. Conferring with him is the well-known East-coast boat modeler Harold “Dynamite” Payson. Meanwhile John DeShazo, a retired navy man from Alabama has been working with computerized digital modeling of the boat with software and coaching from Robert Lainé of the Netherlands. I stumbled across Fletcher and DeShazo in cyberspace, brought them together and have been unearthing and supplying photographs from archives around the country. In Oregon Vince Welch continues to sniff around Coos County for word of the original boat.

Overlooking the project, giving occasional nods and hints, is Buzz Holmstrom's kid brother Rolf, who will turn seventy-nine this year and who, just sixty-four years ago, helped his brother build the original Julius F.
The upshot of all this is that we hope to build a replica. The lumber was cut four years ago—Port Orford Cedar from a tree that grew a stone's throw from where Buzz found his, on the South Fork of the Coquille River in Oregon. Rolf still has many of Buzz's original tools. Boatbuilders from around Oregon are showing great interest, hoping to lend a hand. With luck, possibly as early as this fall, the Julius F. may rise again. And Rolf has promised to back up the clinch nails, just the way Buzz taught him.
Brad Dimock