Modern Living: The Canoe Boom

The Fox River was a fine canoeing stream back in 1875, when the Potawatomi Indians headed down it in birch-barks. It still is, as 1,470 weekend paddlers found this month when they took part in the 15th Annual Mid-American Canoe Race. In bright aluminum and fiber-glass craft with names like Shark One and Titanic, the contestants braved a broad, meandering 22-mile stretch of the river in northern Illinois, suffering no injury worse than a cut leg and some overtaxed stomach muscles.

At the end of the race, when the sweaty survivors rejoined their...

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