Master Boat Builder Begins by Carving Cedar Canoes

Oct 4, 2013

Master boat builder Lex Fromm of Curry County, Ore., learned his trade early and by age 10 was a skilled fisher, fishing guide and carver of cedar canoes.

After graduation from Gold Beach High School, Fromm earned a teaching degree at Ashland’s Southern Oregon Normal School.  He taught in a one-room school in Sixes, Ore., was a principal in Gold Beach for 10 years, and served as a Navy pilot and flight instructor during World War II.

After the war, Fromm returned to Gold Beach to build wooden boats at a shop in Wedderburn on the north side of the Rogue River. Lex won the contract in 1946 for the U. S. Mail Boat Service from Gold Beach to Agness, heading the company for 18 years with different partners.

Fromm retired in 1964 but kept building.  He designed, repaired, and built many boats, including the first twin-engine jet boat for Rogue River trips.  He estimated that by 1995 he had built more than 300 boats of all sizes. He stopped building in 2001 when he was 92.

Today, Fromm’s former workshop houses Lex’s Landing, a business catering to fishermen.

Sources: Martin, Norm. "The Fuse Keeps Burning." Curry County Reporter 24 July 2002. [Gold Beach, Ore.] Print;  Meier, Gary, and Gloria Meier. Whitewater Mailmen: The Story of Rogue River Mail Boats. Bend, Ore.: Maverick Publications, 1995. Print.