Today is shaping up to be one of the coldest days in recent history across Minnesota, a good day for a story that first began in August, when temperatures were in the 90’s and we were wearing shorts. – Texx
During our two-week tour of Minnesota last August, we experienced some incredible people, unbelievable lakes, traditional and exotic cabin life, a great cruise down the St. Croix River, some of the most significant classic boat collections in the country, and a truly remarkable wooden boat show at Bar Harbor on Gull Lake. (If you missed those 8 reports, just key in “Classic Minnesota” into the search box in the top right and scroll down to the series of stories).
Towards the end of the trip, we were treated to a tour of a private collection by the Carlson family. Bruce Carlson started this collection in 1990 and in a relatively short period of time, amassed a significant number pieces, which included Chris-Craft inboards, outboard runabouts, canoes and row boats, outboard motors, water skis, gas cans and even frog boxes.
Bruce called his collection “The Museum of the American Outboard” and he was especially interested in pieces that had a Minnesota connection. Sadly, Bruce Carlson died in 2006, however the families collection is still completely intact, like a time capsule, frozen in time.
At the time of the tour, the Carlson family was in contact with the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum (MLMM), discussing the possibilities of sending a few of the boats to the museum – so we were not in a position to report on the collection at the time. Late last fall, nine boats went to the MLMM in Alexandria. The boats that were selected are boats that are important to the MLMM and satisfying to the Carlson family to honor Bruce’s memory. The family recognized that some of these boats come with a strong Minnesota connection, and should be where people can appreciate them.
The private collection was made up of a series of well constructed buildings, which grew as the collection grew. As we went from building to building, we were amazed by the depth and diversity of collection, and it was easy to tell that Bruce had a keen eye for originality.
The assortment of vintage Minnesota water skis and recreational gear from the 50’s & 60’s was fantastic, and conjured up many childhood memories of spending summers at the lake with the old wooden outboard. When I am invited to tour a private collection like this, I respectfully leave my camera behind, but with approval did manage to grab a few photos with my iPhone.
Fast forward to November 2013.
Once the deal was finalized between the Carlson family and the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, a team representing the MLMM was assembled extricate and transport the boats to their new home in Alexandria. Bruce Olson, Jim Eidsvold, Darin Erlandson and Dave Bortner were on hand during the thanksgiving weekend and reporter Dane Anderson was also there to assist and shoot some photos.
Below, an excerpt from the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum newsletter announcing the news. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the museum, you won’t be disappointed. This is a world class facility operated by a very special group of boating enthusiasts. The museum’s focus is also to present the rich history of boating in Minnesota and these new additions from the Carlson family collection will further enhance an already spectacular collection.
Although the Carlson family has no intentions of liquidating Bruce’s private collection any time soon, they did decide to cut loose the all original 1961 Carver lapstrake from the collection.
Special thanks to Dane Anderson for sharing these photos with us today, and congratulations to the MLMM on their newest additions to the museum. For more information on the MLMM you can Click Here to go to their great website.
Thanks also to the Carlson family for allowing me to tour Bruce’s private collection in August – it was wonderful experience. There’s something about Minnesota that is very special, and the Classic Minnesota tour was two weeks I will never forget.