While attending the recent Warner Collection Auction in Minnesota, we were introduced to local collector and historian Paul Mikkelson. Paul (shown above) is the owner and curator of The Mikkelson Collection, Inc – Antique & Classic Boat Museum which is located in Willmar, Minnesota – 100 miles west of Minneapolis. Paul Mikkelson is a very pleasant, soft spoken individual that has a lifetime of interest in boating, growing up around Eagle Lake, Minnesota. His love affair with Larson Falls Flyer boats started when he was in high school when his father purchased a 1956 model.
Paul invited Woody Boater to stop by the museum in Willmar, MN for a tour the day after the auction, and being the media termites we are, we gladly accepted. I can honestly say that it was an experience I will never forget.
The Mikkelson Collection consists of over $3,000,000.00 of classic & antique boats, outboard motors, and rare boating memorabilia including an outstanding assortment of marine collectibles from the 1930’s through to the 1960’s. Visitors to the Mikkelson Museum will also have the opportunity to see Paul’s spectacular collection of over 800 vintage toy boats & outboard motors, huge duck decoy collection and his unique collection of “Hand and Foot” powered outboard motors from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The centerpiece of the Mikkelson Museum features the country’s most extensive collection of classic “Falls Flyer” boats, built by Larson Boat Works of Little Falls, Minnesota between 1939 and 1960.
So the challenge is… How do you write a story for Woody Boater that will accurately represent the depth and quality of the Mikkelson Collection Museum using 25 images in a one day story? The answer is… “It’s not possible.” So we decided to prepare a series of four individual “Coffee Table Book” style stories to summarize our Mikkelson Collection Tour and publish them in consecutive days. This barely scratches the surface of what’s actually there, but hopefully will give us the opportunity to share what we experienced with the Woody Boater community.
The only way to really appreciate the Mikkelson Collection Antique & Classic Museum is to plan to stop by the museum if your in the area and experience it for yourself.
One of the many unique wooden boats in the museum is this 1955 Larson 18′ Cabin Outboard Special. This unmolested original boat was designed to be an “Overnighter” with a retractable picnic table and a sleeping area. The Cabin Special is displayed on it’s original, unrestored Tee Nee trailer.
Inside the all-weather mahogany cabin, the back rests on the forward seats are removable so the cabin may be arranged for sleeping.
Perfect period correct Twin Johnson Seahorse 25 HP motors.
The Cabin Special was equipped with the original, period correct Rice Retractable Anchor.
When is the last time you saw a 1956 14′ Deluxe Stylemaster Runabout equipped with a Baker Hydrofoil System and an original Wizard Super 10 – 10 HP Extra Long Shaft Outboard Motor?
According to the brochures, Baker Hydrofoils make the boat twice as fast, five times as smooth and three times as maneuverable as displacement hulls. To learn more about the history of Gordon Baker and the Baker Hydrofoil System from Evansville, Wisconsin click here
. Also don’t forget you can click on any of the images to enlarge them.
The 1956 14′ Deluxe Stylemaster manufactured by Inland Marine of Madison, Wisconsin was constructed using 5 plys of molded plywood with oak stringers.
This rare example of outboard history is believed to be the only one of it’s kind in existence.
Roy Rogers was a Woody Boater…
As we were touring through the museum, I noticed this original display for Fir Plywood Fleet Boat Plans. How about a 9′ Pram Dinghy, 15′ Outboard, 16′ Runabout, or a 20′ Cabin Cruiser… Just buy the boat plans for 25 Cents each, pick up some fir plywood, waterproof glue and head for the workshop! “Honey, I’m going to build us a new boat this winter.”
Paul Mikkelson’s collection of original marine signs is great.
Then once you finish your new winter boat project, in the spring you can simply head over to you local Evinrude Outboard Dealer and pick up a new 1956 Evinrude “Ducktwin” motor.
Low production runs of this special purpose 3 HP outboard motor by Evinrude make it very rare. Available to duck hunters from 1955 thru 1959, it was a lightwin sold in drab olive colored paint sporting a duck decal. This 1956 Evinrude Ducktwin featured in the Mikkelson Collection is in unrestored, original condition. Evinrude outboard motors were manufactured in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Then, after you buy your new Evinrude Ducktwin, before you leave your local Evinrude dealer, you could pick up one of the hottest new records in town… “How To Call Ducks” by Phil Olt, Jr. The record was a sponsorship deal between Olt Duck Calls and Evinrude Outboards.
So you spend the winter building your new wooden boat in the work shop, then you bring home your new record and invite the wife to join you at the Hi FI for some Classic Duck Calling vibes… WooHooo! Heres an original record in the original package from the 1950’s.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the second story from the Mikkelson Collection Tour, focusing on Paul’s huge collection of toy boats, and the story about Paul’s relationship with Bob Speltz.
whoop whooop COOOL. what a great museum and thank god for the enlarge click on the photos. What a truly wonderful collection. I can easily see the attraction with the Falls Flyer boats. I look at those whacky shapes and colours and wonder what were they thinking? Thank goodness they were is all I can say. How cool are those twin Johnson 25's. I want to lick them.
That is some of the neatest hording I have seen. So if I collect enough boats and associated stuff and call myself a museum my family will worry a little less. Great visit. Looking foward to tomorrow. ps Did you get to touch the boats and even lick a few?
Great collection and report. I wonder if he brings anything to the shows? Do they ever touch the water anymore?
Great start to what will undoubtedly be a great series. Some good questions raised already….when can we start calling the junk in our garage a "museum"? I've never heard anyone ask to lick a boat or motor before. I guess Woodyboater attracts a wide variety of boat enthusiasts. Lastly, has anyone ever seen a Baker hydrofoil in operation? I'm assuming it was a dicey ride at best. I'd love to see someone take it for a spin.
Thanks so much for sharing this story. Paul is a wonderful person and his collection of "stuff" is amazing. I think he and his museum are under appreciated. I hope this lets more folk know about his fantastic one of a kind collection. Go visit the museum when you come to Minnesota. It's an easy drive from Minneapolis.
This makes me lament the fact that I, and I am sure most people who attended the Warner sale from distant places, did not take the time to check this museum out. It looks absolutely tremendous. Rest assured that the next time I am anywhere near the area, I will make it a destination. Thanks for this post, and those upcoming.
I have heard of Paul's Museum and would love to visit it in the near future. This first post has already got me to thinking of excuses to go see it. By the time I see them all I'll probably have a road trip in mind. Great Post, Texx!
On another subject, what's with Chris-Craft.org and Boat Buzz? Anyone know???
Must be some really good stuff on Boat Buzz because when I try to access Chris-Craft.org it says "Forbidden". Now I really want to get in!
Bill posted around noon yesterday that they would be performing some site maintenance and to allow for some down-time.
The boats are so clean one could even eat off of one. It looks to be a tasty collection. I am not in the area but I will send my relatives who are. You gave at least a month of posts to scratch the surface. Plus it would be nice to see what his user boat looks like. Mr. Mickkelson you are apparently a woodyboated force of nature
Ha, Mike M that made me laugh. " Im assuming it was a dicey ride at best. Id love to see someone take it for a spin."
Not so keen in going for a splash in it yourself?
I have to agree with you there. Two potato peelers attached to a boat, looks like a very dodgy and fragile set up.
Phil – The last story we post on the Mikkelson Collection (on Sunday) will be dedicated to the evolution & design of the Larson Falls Flyer boats. We will focus on the 10 Falls Flyer models currently on display in the museum, both Pre-War and Post War versions.
Paul Mikkelson takes pride in the fact that everything in his museum (boats, motors, toys, etc) runs, operates and floats. That's also what makes the museum so unique. Up until a few years ago, Paul attended boat shows on a regular basis with his family's help. Although I have only known Paul for a short time, he strikes me as the kind of fellow that if asked, would offer to demonstrate the Hydrofoil boat. Maybe that would be a fun project / story for next summer… I would offer to drive if someone could explain how to drive it!
Paul has been an active member of the BSLOL chapter for as long as I have known him. He not only attended most of the shows in the area, he honored Bob Speltz's legacy by hosting the Real Runabouts toy boat show and swap meet for several years. Those events at the old Hopkins House hotel were a blast.
Paul's 20 foot Falls Flyer inboard is a nice ride. I was lucky enough to be a passenger at a Cross Lake MN boat show and I can tell you that the big Falls Flyer draws a lot of attention.
Any chance you would be willing to sell the Ducktwin?
I have a very fine duck twin, if you are interested I will send you photos.
I just found this post on your Ducktwin. Is it still for sale? Please let me know one way or another.
Thank you, Tom
Hi Paul, the entire collection was sold at auction years ago. Search it on wb and you will find out more