Mororboating In 1914 On Lake Hopatcong!


We never knew this was built by C.C. Smith (image by William Harris

Thanks to Bob”Have I Got A Calendar For You” Kays for sending in this wonderful story on finding evidence of motorboating in 1914 on Lake Hopatcong!. Its wonderful to see the deep and long history of power boating on such a historic lake! Take it away Bob!

About a year ago, I discover that Chris Craft hull #10 was built in 1924 and delivered to Lake Hopatcong, NJ in 1925 becoming the first known Chris Craft on the lake. You can read about it here 
While doing other research, I discovered that a boat built by C. C. Smith arrived on Lake Hopatcong in the summer of 1914!  The January 1916 issue of Motorboating magazine reported the following
“Rex Beach, the popular writer of “Going Some” , “the Silver Horde” and other thrilling novels is especially fond of motor boating. When he is not engaged in globetrotting for literary material, Mr. Beach summers at Lake Hopatcong, NJ and here he has “Gretna” a C.C. Smith mahogany hydroplane. It is 20’ 6” long with a 6’ beam and powered by a model B 50-85 hp Sterling engine. Although speed motorboating is a very popular pastime with the Lake Hopatcong colony and the local fleet includes not a few unusually fast boats, Mr. Beach’s craft is declared to have sufficient speed to clean up anything in that part of the country.”
You can read more about Rex Beach here:
This info lead me to this postcard from the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum collection


another view of “Gretna” from the LH museum archive

Research in the Lake Hopatcong Breeze of August 1914 uncovered that Rex Beach’s boat was delivered in early August of 1914 by the Central Railroad of New Jersey to Nolan’s Point on the lake and was “making fast time within a half hour of being launched” and “the  20’ hydroplane is expected to reach speeds of 40 mph”   Even the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported “the latest and fasted boat to arrive at this resort is the new hydroplane “ Gretna” belonging to Rex Beach”


Cover of the Lake Hopatcong Breeze 1918

Mr. Beach raced the boat on the Lake and enjoyed his home until he sold the home in 1919. Just before selling the house, the boathouse burned down.
Stanhope Eagle Nov 26 1919
” Backfire from a pumping engine in a boathouse on the Rex Beach property at Lake Hopatcong set fire to the boathouse and three launches a few days ago causing a loss of $5,000.00. ”


The boathouse of Rex Beach as seen from Raccoon Island in 1902 from the LH Museum collection

At this point I assumed that was the end of the “Gretna”, being consumed by fire.
Until I found the October 1919 issue of Pacific Motor Boat and read the following
“Mr. E.A. Featherstone has purchased a 20’ speed boat” Gretna” formally owned Rex Beach in the east and used by the government during the war”
So the boat was used by the U.S. Government during WWI and then found a home on the west coast.
I don’t know what happen to the boat after that.
C.C. Smith called this boat model Queen Reliance


Advertising postcard by C.C. Smith for Queen Reliance


1913 ad from Motor Boating


11 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    WOW! Bob that is some pretty amazing history that you are unearthing. Keep us informed.

    Great Story!

  2. chris b
    chris b says:

    Great Story and Fun Ad. “No noise no odor” ? sounds like a fast electric boat but clearly lacks the character Matt looks for in boats

  3. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    The masthead of the Breeze is a masterpiece. And so is the (late) boathouse. That said, as a copywriter, I especially appreciate the words “generally satisfactory” in the Smith-Ryan ad. I must say that’s a phrase I’ve never used in a Porsche or BMW ad.

    • Dan T
      Dan T says:

      Generally satisfactory is a great phrase along with Queen Reliance. Those old timers really had a way with the words.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Thanks for sharing! A 40 mph boat in 1914 was a heck of an accomplishment. It was more than another half century before typical pleasure boats went much faster than that.

    And speaking of Bob and Hopatcong, we are only a few days away from flipping the calendar to see what boat February has waiting for us.

    • Don G.
      Don G. says:

      Bob did such a great job of capturing our ‘Miss January”, Kings Transom. We will be sad to flip to February, but looking forward to the surprise it will bring. As Spring rolls around, we will be putting her up for sale after buying her from Wayne almost 20 years ago. So sad…

  5. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    40 miles per hour with a model B engine. ?..Not ever got anything like that out of my 16′ Riviera which incidentially was delivered to the Lakeland Marine Base (Chris Craft dealer) on Lake Hopatcong. They say Wayne Mocksfield’s uncle had one like it but no one could ever tell me who owned mine.

  6. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Fantastic story and research….40 MPH…..? not radar gun reading obviously……I would not go so far as to say fakenews…but sounds like with the wind and tide and downhill to me…..not to diminish a wonderful history.
    Went Boating yesterday in ole Va.

    John in Va.

  7. MrSmoothenough
    MrSmoothenough says:

    GREAT STORY already have all of Rex Beaches novels given to me by my grandmother starting in the 50s—maybe its time to start looking for the drawings for a Queen Reliance

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