This old Pioneer boat probably could tell some interesting tales if only it could talk.
I’ve always loved being around water. Fishing and boating have always been at the top of my list of pastimes.
Over the years, nearly every place the Junkers have lived has been on or near the water. There were a few exceptions in my early years, but in the last four decades a couple hundred yards has been the furthest we have been from a spot to cast a lure or launch a boat.
During that time, I’ve always owned a boat. Most were purchased used. I’ve had canoes, small sailboats, pontoon, ski, and fishing boats. Today, I still have a fold-up Porta-bote.
Late last fall, I saw a small 10-foot, aluminum jon boat at a yard sale. Figured it would slip easily into the back of my old truck, and thought it would be ideal to paddle around the small lake where we currently spend warm weather. I could picture myself casting Roadrunners and Beetlespins to the bass, crappie and bluegill as the sun settled behind the trees to the west.
I even purchased a small Minn-Kota trolling motor and a new battery to help propel my new (to me) fishing machine.
The boat did easily fit into the back of the old Chevy. I was right. That was good news.
However, the boat didn’t work for this fat old, unstable outdoor writer.
I attempted to launch it, and was sure motor battery, rod and reel, and old man were going to end up in the “drink”. It was totally unstable for this guy, and it seemed the water level was only about six inches below the side. (TRY BEFORE YOU BUY.)
So what was plan B?
In the meantime, my 14-year-old grandson thinks the boat is great. He spent a couple days paddling it around the lake. But then, he weighs half or less than this old biscuit and gravy eater.
Plan B was to look on the internet for another small boat, but one not quite so small.
I actually found several within a reasonable distance of home, and decided to check one out located on the northside of Bloomington. The young owner said the older aluminum boat had comfortably and stably held he, his wife, and young son.
Upon arrival at his home, I looked over the boat. It looked much like many I had seen years ago at various fishing camps.
Quickly, I made the decision to buy it. It appeared it would meet my need, but something else also attracted me. Isaiah Bowling, the owner, had found a very old magazine advertisement about the boat. It indicated the boat was a Pioneer and manufactured in Middlebury, IN.
I wish the boat could tell it’s story. How many big fish have been pulled over its sides? Where has it traveled to? What lakes? Who took it to picnics and shady sandbars? Did anyone ever fall overboard? How old is the boat?
A guess would be it was built in the 1950’s.
The old advertisement called Pioneer Boats, “America’s most advanced line of metal boats...
“Rounded V-bow with flat bottom design provides smoothest ride with utmost steadiness. Eleven models, 33 sizes in galvanized iron and steel and aluminum.
“Endorsed for 40 years by leading summer camps and resorts.”
From a brief internet search I learned Pioneer had been located at 125 Perry Street, In Middlebury, IN, and was purchased in 1972 by Jayco manufacturing, well-known builder of Jayco trailers. I have contacted Jayco in an attempt to learn more, but haven’t received a response.
I also discovered there currently is a Pioneer boat company on the east coast, but it doesn’t to appear to have any relationship, except the same name.
The former owners,Isaiah and Joni Bowling enjoyed the boat, and I’m sure others did as well. Now I own the old boat, and would love to hear from anyone who knows anything more about lineage of Pioneer boats.