Paddlesports Museum Underway in Southeast

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Look for gear blasts from the past at the new Southern Appalachian Paddlesports Museum.

Want to see some classic paddlesports gear? Head to Asheville, N.C.

While the town fell short in its bid to host the International Whitewater Hall of Fame, which will now be located in Richmond, Va., the Southern Appalachian Paddlesports Museum officially launched this spring in a back room of Black Dome Mountain Sports on Tunnel Road.

Mike Fischesser, who established the Carolina Climbers Museum in Black Dome three years ago, was the driving force behind the idea, along with Payson Kennedy, one of the founders of NOC in 1972, and Bunny Johns, a former NOC president. (Kennedy was inducted into the IWHOF in 2005, and Johns in 2017).

Look for gear blasts from the past at the new Southern Appalachian Paddlesports Museum.

Fischesser, an avid climber and paddler formerly with North Carolina Outward Bound and now executive director of American Adventure Service Corps, says the idea was unrelated to Asheville’s IWHOF bid, but that there might be an opportunity to work together.

He says the idea for the museum, called SAPM, is to operate it in a similar fashion to the climbing museum, in which he produces historical video documentaries every year, the most recent of which, about Linville Gorge, premiered April 20.

“Maybe once or twice a year we’ll have a historical documentary, invite people, have popcorn, just trying to capture the history of those two sports,” says Fischesser, who wants to interview “old-time” paddlers and their breathtaking tales of adventure. He’d also like to curate canoes and kayaks, as well as life jackets, helmets, throw ropes and other equipment that represents the historical evolution of boating.