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Master Boat Builder Begins by Carving Cedar Canoes

Master boat builder LexFromm 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.


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Shirley Nelson moved to Port Orford on Oregon's South Coast, after having lived 28 years in Medford.  A writer since childhood, she became an elementary school teacher.  As an interested observer of her new environment, Shirley learned the history of Curry and Coos counties. She published a book in 2005 about Coos and Curry counties titled What Happened Here?.  Nelson has published articles and poetry in several magazines, including Oregon Coast.