Thanks to the crew at The Antique Boat Museum, for the virtual openess of the museum here. Today we have a wonderful 30 footer. Take it away Antique Boat Museumers!
It was a cold day in January 1928 when Paul A. Schoellkopf, Sr. of Niagara Falls, NY visited the New York boat show. It had been three years since he had sold Minken I, a Mathis 65’ house boat
He became enamored with a new 30’ speed boat being offered by Chris Craft. He placed an order for spring delivery with the Swan Garage of Buffalo. There were no marinas in those days.
Minken II arrived on a flat railroad car at the power plant in Niagara Falls and was unloaded by crane into the forebay which was connected to the Niagara River. It was a very special day for Paul, Jr. who had attained his twelfth birthday. Harry Morath who worked for the Power Co. was put in charge.
Minken II spent the spring on the upper Niagara River at the Schoellkopf boat house. The family wanted to have Minken II in Lewiston near their home. The location was up river as far as boats dared venture because the rapids and whirlpool were nearby. It was determined that Minken II was one of the first pleasure boats on the lower Niagara River.
The dilemma was how to get Minken II from the upper river above the falls to the lower river below the falls. There were no trailers available in those days, therefore the water route had to be used which entailed passing through the Welland Canal, located in Canada, which was built to allow ships to get around the Falls themselves. The first canal used by Minken II had 22 locks – today there are 8.
Each spring and fall the trip was made as follows. The start of the trip was an 18 mile trip south on the Niagara River to Lake Erie. Minken II turned west and went some 20 miles to Port Colborne, the entrache to the Welland Canal. Thirty miles later Minken II arrived at Port Deluci on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The trip continued for ten miles to the east and the mouth of the Niagara River at Youngstown, NY. The final leg of the trip was a five mile trip south up the Niagara River to Lewistown.
Minken II made many trips up and down the river, it was always fun to watch the surfboarders and the early skiers who had skies attached directly to the boat, much the same as a surf board.
After two years, when Paul Jr. was fourteen, Minken II was turned over to his care and responsibility. The first problem that Paul Jr. faced was how to obtain gasoline for his boat because he had no drivers license. There were no gasoline pumps on the lower Niagara River. The problem was solved by using Paul’s horse and buggy. He would descend Lewiston Hill, pick up his gasoline in five gallon cans and deliver them to Minken II. The more he used the boat, the more trips had to be made with the faithful horse and buggy.
Three years later in 1933, a very special event occurred in the life of Minken II. The Schoellkopf daughter, Minken, then married to Andre Boissier, had the luck to observe Italian troops water skiing on free skies similar to snow skies, with the skier holding a rope attached directly to the boat. This added to the thrill of the sport. Paul Jr. obtained his first skies in New Jersey – they were made of balsa wood and had a simple strap for the foot. Minken II was undoubtedly one of the first boats in America to pull these new skiers. Skies improved, but it was not until after World War II that the sport caught on. The first ski jump was put in use at Youngstown in 1948.
A challenge was offered to Paul Jr. by his father. If Paul was successful in overhauling the boat motor, a 200 hp Chris Craft engine, grinding the valves, rebalancing the connecting rods, and replacing the rings he would give him a $50 reward. The challenge was met, at the age of seventeen Paul completed the work on the engine in his workshop at Lewiston Heights. Minken II took part in many trips on Lake Ontario going north to Toronto 30 miles away and to Rochester some 80 miles east.
The winter home of Minken II was at the Adams Power Station on Buffalo Ave in Niagara Falls. When the Minken II was launched in the spring a careful check would be made of the motor and gear. When all was in good order the trip across the river was undertaken. The current was strong and there were rocks all the way to the Canadian shore where there was a channel up the river to Grand Island. The trip was made with the anchor and a coil of rope handy on the floor. In the fall, the return trip was made. Minken II was always stored out of the water having been designed to hang on hoists.
The war years, 1940-1945, left Minken II in storage at the Adams Station. Minken II was returned to service in the summer of 1946 having a new home at Pierce Marine located at Youngstown, NY. The post war life extended into the 50s when Minken II was retired and put in storage. Minken II made her last trip in the summer of 1991 when she went overland to Clayton, NY to take her place in the museum. She is now completely restored and giving pleasure to many boat lovers.