Cooper Flatboats

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John K. Cooper

Captain, Boatwright, and Teacher

Captain John K. Cooper began training in arts and crafts at a very early age, at the insistence of his mother. This initial drive lead him towards engineering, drafting, and blueprint design. From building office and apartment complexes to discovering an interest for archaic wooden flatboat designs, Captain Cooper was always driven by a creative adventure. He briefly joined the University of Tennessee forestry program before the call of the Florida waters, and his ensuing employment with NASA, took him to sunny Florida.

While at NASA Captain Cooper worked on Apollo launches from Apollo 8 through Apollo 17. Captain Cooper pursued further endeavors in housing and office development before ultimately returning to his ancestral home in Tennessee. TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) hired Captain Cooper to teach a carpentry apprenticeship program. He wrote and taught numerous manuals within that program. In 1985, the Cumberland Wildlife association contacted Captain Cooper to build a flatboat designed for a fundraising reenactment to Save The Eagles project on the Cumberland River. This was the first, but it would be far from the last as he combined his work history with his design capability for design, bringing river history to life so we may enjoy the past in the present.

John and Gloria Cooper

John K. Cooper on a Flatboat

The Cooper Homestead est. 1883

Activity at the Cooper Homestead is never-ending. Our home is John's ancestral home — built in 1883 of beautiful poplar wood. John built our new barn, cedar rail fencing, and two cabins to look exactly like the 1800s homestead. We love walking back in time while looking forward.