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New life for Chippewa Lake Park paddleboat

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    Jason Carver, owner of the Tom Sawyer, poses in front of the paddleboat at Chippewa Lake before it’s transported to Tennessee.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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    Jason Carver, left, owner of Tom Sawyer, and JBeez WaterCraft/Canoe the Caney employee Shawn Moser, build a platform to jack up the boat 36 inches off the ground to transport it.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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CHIPPEWA LAKE — A relic of the old Chippewa Lake Park one day will find new life on a lake in Tennessee.

In 2009, Tennesseean Jason Carver purchased the Tom Sawyer paddleboat from the former park. After a lot of red tape, he finally was able to transport the 38,000-pound boat to his hometown in Silver Point, Tenn., in December.

Carver said the previous owners of the Tom Sawyer, which is 60 feet long and 15 feet wide, were going to scrap it, but he had other ideas.

“I want to restore the boat,” he said. “We want to give tours on the lake for corporate events or weddings. It will serve a great purpose.”

He figures he’ll have to sink about $50,000 into the restoration, which could take three to five years.

“It’s a big undertaking,” Carver said.

Chippewa Lake Park, open for about a century, closed in 1978. That’s when the Tom Sawyer was brought ashore. Luckily, it was sitting in sand, which helped prevent rust from setting in, he said.

Based on a serial number on the engine, the boat was made in 1961.

The move

Caver said buying the boat and transporting it to Tennessee totaled about $10,000.

The Brothers Marine Transport Co. moved the boat from the shores of Chippewa Lake to Carver’s home. Several members of Carver’s boating business, JBeez Watercraft/Canoe the Caney, came along for the transport starting Dec. 1.

By Dec. 5, after hours of hard work, Carver and the rest of the team successfully removed the Tom Sawyer from the Chippewa Lake beach.

It arrived in Silver Point at 9:41 a.m. Dec. 7.

“That’s when the Pearl Harbor attack was,” Carver said. “It’s kind of weird. It’s easy to remember time and date.

“If nothing else, the Tom Sawyer’s journey is a testament to what you can accomplish if you stay focused on your goal, you don’t give up and you don’t accept no for an answer. Believe me, everywhere I turned, it was a no. People said it was impossible. They said it would never leave Chippewa Lake Park in one piece. But you know what I say? Mission accomplished.”

After he purchased the boat, everything got tied up in litigation, he said.

“We encountered some challenges,” Carver said.

Then, in December, Carver said the attorneys involved had a change of heart and told him to come get the Tom Sawyer.

“We worked it out and made it happen quickly,” he said.

Restoration

Carver said he’ll do much of the restoration himself.

“That’s the fun part of it,” he said.

He said the boat is in a lot better shape than expected.

“It was pretty well preserved,” Carver said. “There were some rust holes in the bottom.”

When they picked up the boat to load it onto the flatbed truck, many thought everything would fall through the bottom.

“It was pretty solid,” he said.

Now that he has it in Tennessee, the next phase is to sandblast it to keep it from rusting further.

Carver will pull out the engine and start dismantling it. “We’ll try to find replacement parts,” he said.

Once all is done, the Tom Sawyer will give rides on one of the largest lakes in middle Tennessee. Center Hill Lake, about an hour east of Nashville, is the home to many country music singers, as well as former Vice President Al Gore.

He said he partnered with the Timothy Hill Foundation, a Christian retreat for families on Center Hill Lake.

Carver asks people to send him any photos or info about the Tom Sawyer to jasonwcarver@gmail.com.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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