The Tomol is the name for a Chumash canoe.  They were very unique in their design. The Tomol was made from driftwood or cut redwood.  The Chumash used the tar beds found throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  This tar was mixed with pine oil to dilute it and was called Yop.  When Spaniards came in they named this substance- asphaltum.

The planks were leveled and smoothed, then Yop'd together.  After the Yop cooled, hemp rope was used to strap the planks securely.  The strongest solid piece was used for the bottom of the Tomol.  Then, the planks were added and strapped usually about four rows high.  More Yop was added to water seal the craft.  The Tomols were about 30 feet long and were powered by oars called- "Tishle'".  Each Tomol could carry 3-10 people.

Tomols came into major use about 2,000 years ago and truly allowed the Chumash to travel the coast, fish, and reach the outer islands.  The last, active fishing Tomols were made about 1850.

Today the art of tomol making has been revived and the Chumash have made trips out to the islands on several occasions as a celebration of their culture.



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