Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Antique Wooden Boats Galore!!

Sometimes it’s the museums located in the small towns along the comparative back roads of the U.S.A. that really impress us.

This is an aerial photo, (borrowed), of scenic Clayton New York.  In the foreground it’s easy to spot the 4.5 acre campus of the Antique Boat Museum.  The four largest buildings as well as a couple of the smaller buildings are filled with antique wooden boats. 

FYI, Clayton is located near the western end of the St. Lawrence River at Lake Ontario where the river begins its journey east to the Atlantic Ocean.

Now, this beauty is moored at the museum but it’s not an antique…it’s actually a reproduction with a molded fiberglass body.  This boat is based on a 1909 design and these new versions are being built by The Everett Boat Works Company in Canton New York.  The deck and interior are varnished solid mahogany and Spanish cedar, upholstery is of soft leather and the engine is a Marine Power 4-cylinder developing about 140 hp.  Top speed is about 30 mph.

This is a photo of the interior of the Launch building at the Antique Boat Museum.  It is packed with antique wooden works of art…wooden launches and small yachts.  There is also a collection of inboard and outboard motors for those that are a bit more mechanical than I am.  However, I was disappointed to discover that despite the fact that I noted a couple of early Sears outboard motors…I couldn’t find an old Montgomery Ward outboard!

This classic is a 1935 16’ Gar Wood Speedboat (The ‘Speedster’ model) Her name is 'Miss Behave'.  Only 6 of these boats survive.  Although back in the day, this model was a big draw for boat showrooms, customers usually ended up buying similar more family friendly launches.  A two-seater just didn’t work for most families!

This is a 1931 Dodge Split Cockpit Runabout.  Her name is 'Sweetie'.  She’s 21’ 6” long with a 125 hp Lycoming engine.  Her interior was finished with pleated French blue leather upholstery.  But the big attraction was the introduction of the new ‘V’ shaped windscreen.  Prior to this, windshields had been straight across rectangles.

This is another view inside the Launch Building.  I can just see Laurie and myself on that big beautiful motor yacht…wealthy of course…cruising through the Thousand Islands… Hey, everyone has to dream a little bit!

One large building on the museum campus is dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of donated craft or museum displays.  At the time of our visit, the museum’s craftsmen had stripped down and were doing a total restoration of a 40’ 1915 launch.  The ‘Wild Goose’ was built by the Hutchinson Boat Works and it served the Dodge family at their ‘cottage’ on one of the Thousand Island.

This building is filled with fabulous looking old canoes.  This is a 12’ ca. 1890 birch bark canoe that was built for a local resident by ‘the canoe builder’ for the Onondaga Indian Tribe.  Another nearby building is filled with a large assortment of antique wooden sailboats.

Then there is this extensive collection of high speed racing boats.  Again, an entire building is dedicated to this grouping of spectacular and historic boats.  Miss Canada III G-8, (above), made her first race in 1938…and won the Silver Cup in 1948.  As sleek as she is, it’s hard to believe that she is about 73 years old!

This is the beautiful antique reproduction cruiser that Laurie and I signed up to take a ride in.  It was a one hour cruise up and down the St. Lawrence River (Cost = $25 each)

If you would like to buy one of these ‘new’ antiques, they are being built by a boat manufacturing company on Lake George New York.  The starting price is $200,000!

Yes…here we are…cruising the St. Lawrence River in style and comfort!  The ride was sooo smooth and the sights were spectacular. 

The Antique Boat Museum was founded in the 1960’s and it is now home to well over 250 watercraft…the largest collection of antique and classic boats in North America.  In August of each year, the museum is also the home of the nation’s largest antique boat show and auction.
The museum is now closed for the Season and it will reopen on May 11, 2012.  It is located at 250 Mary Street in Clayton New York.  Phone: 315-686-4104.  Website: 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave



  1. That's a lot of boating history. As nice as the reproduction crusier would be to tool around the lake in, I believe I'd go for the $50 ride on the St Lawrence vs the $200k.

  2. Dear David, I love that you and Laurie enjoyed the ride on the St. Lawrence.
    My dad would have loved this museum. He was a boat lover and an avid fisherman. He lived to go fishing. I,of course, was his fishing buddy, and I loved it too. It is o.k. to desire that beautiful cruise ship. My motto is, from the show, South Pacific, "you gotta have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true"!! Blessings, Catherine