Boyd Allen
Curry Coastal Pilot

A film crew shot recreations of reed boats traveling the Oregon Coast along the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor over the last weekend in September.

The film –– being produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films as an IMAX documentary –– will debut in 2020.

“We shot recreations of the early explorers who came to America from Asia in boats, then paddled down the coastline of Alaska, Washington and Oregon and further south in reed canoes,” spokesperson Lori Rick said. “They followed the Kelp Highway, America’s first trail, where food was plentiful.”

Professor John Erlandson pioneered the theory of the Kelp Highway, Rick said.

According to an article by Erlandson in “The Journal of Island and Coastal Archeology,” about 16,000 years ago, the North Pacific Coast offered a linear migration route from northeast Asia into the Americas. “Reconstructions suggest that rising sea levels early in the postglacial created a highly convoluted and island-rich coast along Beringia’s southern shore, conditions highly favorable to maritime hunter-gatherers.”

Beringia is the area spanning eastern Russia and crossing to western Canada and including the Bering Strait.

His hypothesis suggests people of the time migrated in reed boats and not necessarily over a land-bridge, as was previously accepted.

“With reduced wave energy, holdfasts for boats, and productive fishing, he said, “these linear kelp forest ecosystems may have provided a kind of ‘kelp highway’ for early maritime peoples colonizing the New World.”

South Coast Tours owner Dave Lacey said the film-crew used guides from his company to paddle the reed boats along the coast to recreate the travels and techniques of early paleoamericans.

Paleoamericans is a term defining the first peoples who entered and inhabited, the Americas during the final glacial episodes of the late Pleistocene period.

The film should be available in about 18 months, according to Lacey, but will only be shown in IMAX theaters. The closest IMAX theaters to Curry County are in Bend and Eugene.

The film is being co-produced by MacGillivray Freeman and Brand USA. The two companies previously produced the blockbuster IMAX film “National Parks Adventure,” which was the highest grossing documentary of 2016.

“This new film follows in the spirit of ‘National Parks Adventure,’” Rick said, “and is all about exploration, about America’s trails and trailblazers, from the earliest explorers who came here 12,000 years ago to today’s modern day explorers who are pushing new boundaries in space.”

She said the film will celebrate nature and the great outdoors and take audiences on a cross-country adventure to some of the nation’s most iconic trails like the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail and Route 66. “We hope the film inspires people to get out and reconnect with America’s wild places, to blaze a few new trails of their own.”

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