News and views, and history and humor, about the lake I love.

"I can hear my granddad's stories of the storms out on Lake Erie, where vessels and cargos and fortunes, and sailors' lives were lost." ~ James Taylor, Millworker

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Notes from the Toledo Antique and Classic Boat Show

I spent a beautiful Sunday (August 28) at the Toledo Maritime Center, scene of the Toledo Antique and Classic Boat Show. I'll get to the boats shortly, but first I want to mention the venue itself. The Toledo Maritime Center sits just off Exit 9 of I-280, on the south side of the Maumee River, and what a beautiful spot it is. Completed in November 2007, the TMC was intended as a multi-use facility for the city of Toledo. A small section of the building - featuring shower and laundry facilities as well as a marina management office - was designed to provide services to recreational boaters and travelers on Great Lakes bound cruise ships. The adjacent Glass City Marina, which complements the center nicely, has 77 boat slips, many of which were taken up this past weekend by boat show participants.

I don't know whether the initial plan for the TMC was overly ambitious or what; I just know I didn't see any cruise ships while I was there. What I do know is that in September 2009 the Great Lakes Historical Society announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority and Boyer Riverfront Inc. to create the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum on the banks of the Maumee River. That's exciting news. It's no secret that the Inland Seas museum in Vermilion, Ohio, has been getting the attendance numbers that it needs to remain viable. A move to the Maritime Center in Toledo will not only provide a better venue - particularly since it will be co-located with the museum ship Col. James M. Schoonmaker, a huge and historic Great Lakes freighter - it will fulfill the wish of many in the society of creating a veritable "Smithsonian" of the Great Lakes.

Back to the boats. The Toledo Boat Show, which first began in 2007 as a modest affair, has grown in size and audience appeal each successive year, according to the attendees I spoke with. By a rough count there must have been 75 or 80 boats on hand, a good portion of them in the water, and compared to other classic shows I have attended this year, there was a greater variety of boats at this show. In addition there was a host of exhibitors and vendors on hand, as well as some special treats. All for an entry fee of only $3. (And free parking, too.)

The advertising for this show made it clear that it would be "featuring Dart Boats." These boats were built by The Dart Boat Company in Toledo, Ohio, and The Indian Lake Boat Company of Lima. Indeed, in addition to the meticulously restored "Bootlegger" shown in the above photo (due to their speed, Dart boats were a favorite of Lake Erie rumrunners), there another four or five boats in the water. (I will devote a separate blog to these fine boats soon.)

Another highlight of the show was the option to hop in an old trolly for a ride over to the museum ship Col. James M. Schoonmaker, a magnificent Great Lakes freighter with a proud history. More on this in another blog as well.

Due to the brisk wind the Toledo Lighthouse Preservation Society unfortunately was not able to offer a tour out to the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse as they had done on Saturday. Nonetheless, it was a good day to be near the water.

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