About Don Hill

Don Hill, builder and designer of McKenzie Drift Boats.

Donald Lynn Hill
1946 - 2016

Donald Lynn Hill peacefully went to sleep on May 14, 2016 and is now fishing in the great waters of heaven. Don was born on May 1, 1946 to Marie (Nelson) and Charles Hill in Portland, Oregon. His father preceded him in death when Don was very young but his earliest childhood memories are of his father taking him fishing on the McKenzie River. Don contracted polio as a young child and spent time in the Portland Shriners hospital. His desire to build boats was fueled by his physical limitations and he built his first boat when he was just 15 with help from his high school shop teacher.
Continuing to not allow physical limitations stop him, Don was a high school tennis champion and an avid diver and swimmer. He attended Lane Community College and held a degree in engineering. He worked in the engineering department at the City of Eugene for over 10 years before leaving to operate Don Hill River Boats full time.
Don was a very giving individual and never met a stranger. He was a deacon in his church with a strong faith always knowing that he was a fisherman just like Jesus.
Don married Sallie Bottem and had two children, Lesa Eusted (David), and James Hill. He had three granddaughters: Kaelene Spence, Shelbi Spence and Madisen Eusted.
They later divorced and Don married Wanda Godkin and adopted a son, Kenneth Hill, later divorcing.
Don was considered a great craftsman in his field and built one of the best wooden boats to ever glide through the rapids of the McKenzie River. He guided and fished many rivers for over forty years.
Here is to high sides and dry lines. Fish on Don!


Hello. My name is Jason Towner I'm 37 years old. I grew up in Eugene Springfield. I went to high school at Churchill and I had some learning disabilities in 10th and 11th grade. A woman named Hank at 4J ran the work experience program in Eugene and Springfield getting kids involved with jobs they enjoy and I just so happen to love going fishing every chance I could get. I worked with Don at his house in Springfield in 1999 a couple days a week. Don was a great person and a great teacher and I've always had great memories of being around him. He was very thorough and the craftsmanship was out of this world. I remember the first time Hank took me over to his house I felt like a kid in a candy store seeing all these beautiful drift boats. Don definitely helped mold me to become a better young man and to strive to do great things in my adult life.
If you could put my testimony on the Don Hill website I would appreciate it.
Jason Towner
Bend, Oregon


You're missing Don with a big fish

Don Hill

sI was born in Portland and raised in Springfield, Oregon, otherwise known as the Gateway to the McKenzie River and home of the McKenzie River Drift Boat. My earliest childhood memories are of watching trout in the upper McKenzie River when my father took me fishing. My desire to build boats was fueled by financial and physical limitations, (I couldn't afford to buy a boat and was tired of getting beat up hiking up and down the river). I built my first boat in 1961 when I was 15 years old with no plans or guidelines, but with a great deal of help from my high school shop teacher, and many hours of research with some of the original McKenzie River Boat builders (Woody Hindman & Tom Kaarhus), I was able to produce a wooden McKenzie River Drift Boat within a year, and I've been building, guiding and fishing ever since. Over forty five years have passed and in that time I've obtained several degrees in construction and building technology and have a strong background in engineering and design. I've also written a construction manual for school systems which enabled students in Fortuna California to place first in their state competition in woodworking. I'm a lifetime member of the Federation of Fly Fishing, Oregon Trout and Northwest Steelheaders, also a supporting member of many other groups and clubs.