Immerse yourself in 4.5 acres of boats at the Antique Boat Museum. Located in Clayton, NY in the heart of the 1000 Islands, the Antique Boat Museum displays over 300 boats across its campus.
Start your day at the admissions desk and purchase the package that’s right for you. Visit the theater to view a video providing background on the 1000 Islands and the Antique Boat Museum. The exhibits in this building rotate, but during our visit there was an exhibit about boating through the seasons on the St. Lawrence River. Once the river freezes, some island residents switch to fan powered airboats to glide across the ice and still be safe if the ice breaks.
Dodge Launch Building
Welcome to the “National Motor Boat Show!”
See specimens from some of the most well known names in boating; from Gar Wood to Chris Craft. Take a look at the history of boating from steam yachts to outboard motors. This exhibit “highlights the evolution of boating as a pastime in North America through the lens of a period boating trade show.”
Some of the boats on display once belonged to prominent members of the 1000 Islands such as Miss Behave owned by Frederick Bourne of Singer Castle fame.
Across Mary Street from the rest of the Antique Boat Museum campus sits the Morgan Building which houses “The Quest for Speed, The Story of Powerboat Racing” exhibit.
Learn about the fastest boats in the world, the men and women who operate them, the history of racing, and the progression of speed records. Visit the far back right corner to try your hand at boat racing via a video game.
Visit the Stone Building directly behind the Haxall Building to see boat restoration in progress. Here you’ll learn about the craft of boatbuilding.
Small Craft Building
My favorite boat of the visit was to the left of the door into the Small Craft Building. Meet the Skim Boat:
While it looks like a toboggan, it is essentially an early jet ski. The first creation in the category of Personal Watercraft, the Skim Boat could be operated standing up, laying down, or from a seated position. Similar to jet skis of today, it included a safety feature that shut the Skim Boat off when the steering cable was dropped. If a driver fell off, the craft would stop to allow the driver to safely climb back aboard and continue the fun.
The Small Craft Building also displays paddle boats, rowing shells, and the evolution of canoes.
The size of a building herself, the 106 foot La Duchesse houseboat sits in the water behind the Antique Boat Museum buildings.
George Boldt, of Boldt Castle, commissioned the boat in 1903. The Boldt family emblem, seen throughout Boldt Castle, is found in the details of La Duchesse; like the doorknobs.
The opulence of the Gilded Age is evident throughout the vessel. From the gold rimmed sinks, to the lavish dining room, to the top deck sunroom.
In 1922 La Duchesse was sold to E.J. Nobel, co-founder of LifeSavers, creator of the tinfoil wrappers the candy comes in, and founder of the American Broadcasting Corporation. After decades of neglect, La Duchesse sank in her slip in 1943. The vessel is so large that she was only partially submerged. Andrew McNally III, of the Rand McNally company, purchased the boat and sent her to dry dock for a yearlong renovation in 1946. Nearly 60 years later, the McNally family donated La Duchesse to the Antique Boat Museum where public tours of the grand houseboat began in 2005 – over 100 years after her creation.
Purchase tickets for the Antique Boat Museum at the Admissions Desk in the Haxall Building. A variety of admission packages are available. Standard admission for adults is $14 with a $3 additional charge for a guided tour of La Duchesse (admission to La Duchesse only available via guided tours). The Antique Boat Museum also offers packages that include boat rides on the St. Lawrence starting at $35 for adults. And after seeing all of these amazing boats, you’ll be ready to take a ride!
Onsite parking is complimentary.
Are you ready to visit the 1000 Island region and check out the Antique Boat Museum? Ask me any questions or let me know when you’re going in the comment section below. Pin or share the image below to let everyone know you’re headed to the Antique Boat Museum.