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  • Writer's pictureWine & Whiskey

Antique Boat Museum

Whiskey writes about our visit to the Antique Boat Museum in the 1,000 Islands Region, Clayton, NY. Take a tour with us.

Race Boat Exhibit - William Morgan Building

In the early 1960’s a few people got together with a common mission of preserving the nautical heritage of the St. Lawrence River and established the 1,000 Islands Museum in Clayton, NY. They organized the first of what became an annual show of antique boats in 1965. In 1990, the institution changed its name to the “Antique Boat Museum”. It has built up a substantial waterfront campus with 10 buildings on 4.5 acres, 29,000 square feet of exhibit space, plus 20,000 square feet of boat storage at another location. The museum showcases a collection of over 300 antique & classic boats and thousands of recreational boating artifacts. The museum has several boats in the water and gives paying customers rides in-season.

Between our camp site and the museum happened to be the Clayton showroom of – an online marketplace for antique & classic boats. The 20,000 S.F. facility is only minutes from the museum. There must have been 75 boats there the day of our visit and it delayed our arrival at the museum. has some treasures, including Alan Jackson’s 1929 30-foot Hacker-Craft Dolphin model, Will of the Wisp, which he bought from my friend Mark Mason of New England Boat & Motor, who found and restored the boat many years ago (two photos above). My favorites were two 1930 Dodge Watercar model 25A triple cockpit runabouts – one a fully restored beauty and the other a barn find. I liked the barn find:

The barn find:

(Wine's comment: NO! Do NOT BUY a barn find!! ☹️)

Once at the museum I was so excited I didn’t know which direction to head to first, so I chose the in-water collection. The photo below is a restored 1928 33’ Baby-Gar, Cicada, powered by a Liberty V-12, on loan to the museum from uber-collector, Lee Anderson of Minnesota. This boat was also discovered/rescued by Mark Mason:

Opposite Cicada is Gadfly, a Hutchinson sedan that likely provides a nice dry ride for patrons. Time to go inside!

Another Dodge Watercar! These are impossibly rare boats. What a treat to see three within a few miles. Sweetie is a 1931 model 25A and is museum worthy.

The museum had sections in this building where different brands were represented, and they do a fantastic job displaying what those brands were best known for or well known for.

There is a lot to look at, and even more to read, so if you plan a trip, and I urge you to plan for a long visit. We went to lunch and came back again after. Our 1929 Chris-Craft 26’ triple cockpit model 7 originally was powered by a Chris-Craft A-70 engine. By the 1980’s when rescuing and restoring the old boats became popular, these roughly 200 HP massive hunks of iron were very, very often replaced by lighter motors with more horsepower, commonly the Crusader 454 350HP model that ours has. I’ve wondered where all those motors went. No doubt the scrap iron yard, but the Antique Boat Museum has one, in museum-worthy condition, photos below:

I see why the big Chris-Crafts had two fuel tanks! The race boat exhibit is in the William Morgan building. Bill Morgan owned Morgan Marine on Lake George and rescued the Hacker-Craft brand. He built our 26’ Hacker-Craft in 1992. Bill was also a Charter member of the Antique & Classic Boat Society.

Watch our video of the visit to the museum and our time in the region.

This is the museum from Wine's perspective.

The museum is a campus of several buildings, and we were pleased that the weather cooperated so that we could walk about with umbrellas. Wooden boats are Whiskey's domain I didn't focus on the intricate details of the boats. I did an overview walkabout and recorded video and took a bunch of photos.

We toured the La Duchesse, an antique houseboat part of the collection. That fascinated me since my occupation / career is interior design. The exterior of the boat is a vanilla box that does not offer a hint of the details inside.

Here are my shots from the museum first, then the houseboat.

There is A LOT to see and read at the museum. We did it in two parts; morning, then lunch, then back in the afternoon.

La Duchesse is a beautiful craft. The design details are impressive. This home on the water was enjoyed for decades on the water. Links for the history is down below.

If viewing this on a computer click a photo to open a slide show to see larger images.

Well, this post might have been overloaded with visual stimulation, but it represents the abundance of treasure in the museum collection. Wow. This area of NY is definitely worth a visit. Between wineries, the museums (there are others), and downtown areas there is much to explore over several days. Next post will highlight our time in the area outside of the museum.

This area is on our list for a return visit to explore the waterways, Boldt Castle and more.

Thanks for reading and watching!

Videos by others:

This is a great video that showcases the museum in detail and shows highlights of the area.

La Duchesse - An Amazing Houseboat

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