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August 1, 2021

Early Fun Rides: The Terrifying Sport of Flume Riding From the Early 20th Century

V-flumes were used to transport logs, lumber, working material and supplies but they were also used to transport people and for entertainment from the early 20th century. A sick or injured person from the mountains would many times be placed in a “flume boat” and sent to the valley, sometimes alone and sometimes with family or friends in attendance, for medical treatment. It was the fastest way to get them help.

A very ‘trendy’ date night would include asking your date to walk with you along the flumes, especially at 100 feet above ground at the highest trestle points (which have no railing, but you are in a shallow flume), to show how much you cared for her and how bold and courageous you were. Including lunch or dinner only made the date that much more special.


Loggers liked the flumes since it got them to town much faster for one of their few nights off. (Remember many logging towns did not allow drinking.) The loggers would build small boats to fit the flume with which they could ride down to town.

But for the early loggers the most fun was the sport of flume riding. This daring sport gained popularity in 1865–1895 starting out as log-riding and then becoming the more ‘refined’ sport of flume riding.



Some of the more interesting rides would have the ‘logger boat’ flying off the flume endpoint at an exorbitant height and speed where the passengers needed to make sure they ejected from the log before the log hit the water and they were safe and far from where the log would land.

No one knows where flume riding started – probably in ancient Roman aquaducts – which more closely resembled the box flumes with large volumes of water moving at slow speeds. V-flumes changed the sport.




(This original article was written by Judy DePuy, and published on Truckee-Donner Historical Society)




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