Lauren Benz pilots the shantyboat Dotty along the Tennessee River.

Life Aboard the Shantyboat Dotty

In Photos by Clay Dudaleave a COMMENT

Over the next few months, Captain Wes “Pancakes” Modes and a revolving cast of shipmates are going to pilot a ramshackle boat down the Tennessee River in search of history. They’re seeking out stories about people and towns tied to the river, of the forgotten families who once lived in not‐dissimilar homemade river boats and eked out a living on the Tennessee. The tales of these folks and others, now mostly a relic of Americana folklore, are the types of “secret histories” Modes hopes to capture in interviews, videos, Instagrams, and artists’ renderings. Clay Duda joins the California artist for a few days on his journey down the river.

Read his full story here


Former Mercury staff reporter Clay Duda has covered gangs in New York, housing busts in Atlanta, and wildfires in Northern California. And lots of stuff about Knoxville.

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