Classic Minnesota Part 1: Bay Lake & Anderson Classic Boats Museum Tour


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“The Lady Grace” – Bill Ramsay’s 1961 Chris-Craft 24′ Sportsman

It’s 4:30 AM and as we prepare this story on the porch of Dane Anderson’s cabin, you can hear the loons calling and the waves lapping up on the shore of Bay Lake, Minnesota.

For the next few days we will be touring around in the heart of Minnesota lakes country discovering some magnificent boat collections, some classic boating areas that have some amazing history, a tour on the St. Croix River and then on the weekend our travels will take us to the big 2013 Gull Lake Classic Boat Show at Bar Harbor, Minnesota – the site of the 2015 ACBS International Show.

Fellow Woody Boater and ace photographer Dane Anderson has offered to be our tour guide all week and he knows the area well having been in the Bay Lake area his entire life. Bay Lake is one of the many lake areas that folks have been coming to since the early 1900’s and has that special charm surrounded by family cabins and established resorts.  Yesterday we went for a tour of Bay Lake and Dane pointed out three Chris-Craft 24′ Sportsman’s, one 1959 and two 1961’s, quite rare to see three limited production model Chris-Crafts all on the same lake, in fact two in one family.

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Jim Riesberg’s 1961 Chris-Craft 24′ Sportsman “Cristal” & Bob Riesberg’s 1959 Chris-Craft 24′ Sportsman “MOJO” – Brother’s on Bay Lake, MN.

We quickly discovered the huge range of classic boats on Bay Lake like this rare fiberglass beauty.

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Jim Riesberg’s other classic, a rare mid 50’s fiberglass Arena Craft Barracuda.

On Wednesday morning (yesterday) we were invited by Lee Anderson to tour his world class boat collection in nearby Nisswa, on the Gull Lake chain. Steve Lively is responsible for maintaining this spectacular private collection of wooden boats, and met us at the gate and we spent the next four hours learning the individual history of each of the 31 boats on the property.

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The tour started on the two docks with 11 covered slips, all these boats are “turn key ready” to go, and not only did we get to see each boat up close and personal, but Steve offered to fire up the boats for us to experience the magnificent sound of the original period correct engines which all run of aviation fuel. Sterling Petrel, Liberty, Hall Scott, Scripps, Hispano-Suiza to name a few… They all ran perfectly, a testament to Steve’s hard work and dedication to the collection.

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From left to right – Belle Isle Super Bearcat, 33′ Baby Gar (c/w Liberty V-12), 1934 Hacker Gold Cup Race Boat, “White Wings” a turn of the century fan tail launch, 1930 Hackercraft triple c/w Scripps V-12, and “Static” 1925 Rochester triple c/w Hall Scott big six power.

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Another amazing Rochester triple “Chuckel”.

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1929 29′ Hackercraft triple.

Then we moved from the docks up to the boat house that words cannot describe. Behind the five sets of automatically controlled doors, more “turn key ready” boats cab be launched directly into Nisswa Lake using the track system.

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The Boat House

Each of the five boats fits into an opening in the unique raised wooden floor design that meets each boat at the water line. Inside the boat house on a rail system, were a rare Canadian made Matheson runabout “Miss Muskoka”, another Belle Isle Super Bearcat named “Sigrid”, “Tolka”, “Rebel” a rare 1925 33′ Hackercraft custom runabout “Rebel” (originally “Bonita”) c/w Hall Scott LM-6, and “Sea Wolf” a Liberty V-12 powered 33′ Baby Gar.

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“Tolka” at home after a busy year touring in 2012 – an amazing 1928 Alexander Graham Bell Laboratories 36′ Limousine Launch.

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The other freshly restored Belle Isle Super Bearcat “Sigrid” in the collection powered by a huge Hispano-Suiza V-8, an absolutely stunning boat to see in person. And you can see it this weekend along with many other boats from the Anderson Classic Boats Museum at the 2013 Gull Lake Classic Boat Show at Bar Harbor, MN. We will be there covering the action both days.

And if that wasn’t enough, Steve then took us over the Anderson Classic Boats Museum building which houses more boats, Lee’s amazing marine engine collection and also some classic cars.

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Horace Dodge modified Packard V-12.

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A very early Hacker designed race boat with a Vanblerck engine.

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“Kristin Ann” 1925 Hacker Dolphin.

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The 500+ HP Liberty V-12 ready to back in “Apache II” the famous 1922 Hackercraft 29′ Gentleman’s Race Boat.

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Although we have seen photos of “Ethyl-Ruth IV” before, to see her in person was a real treat. Steve then said “Would you like to go for ride?” And minutes later we were backing out of the covered slip and headed out on the lake…

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The 502 big block Chevrolet with the power glide transmission was happy at 2,000 RPM and was a wonderful experience to ride in with it’s sharp race boat style handling.

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Special thanks to Lee Anderson and Steve Lively for sharing the outstanding collection with us, it’s an experience we will never forget.  Although Mr. Anderson uses many high quality engine builders for his restoration projects, we should note that much of the vintage engine work is now being handled by Scott Boyes of Scott’s Machine Shop in nearby Brainerd, MN.

Stay tuned to Woody Boater for more daily updates from our Classic Minnesota tour and the 2013 Gull Lake Classic Boat Show from Bar Harbor, MN. Dane & I have some great stuff lined up over the next few days, and we will have our cameras in hand.


24 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Wow, what a collection. I think they should keep something like a little 17′ Chris Craft Deluxe Runabout around just to keep things in perspective!

  2. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Where can I get a job like that. Thankfully there are people like Lee that will spend their money to preserve these rare boats and provide access for us to see. …and Woodyboater to make it all visible for the masses.

    Now please pass me a towel to wipe the drool off my chin.

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    We saw TOLKA when she was the feature at the ACBS-Toronto show in Muskoka but, now to see where she lives….a fitting home if ever there was one.

    This is sorta like seeing the North Pole with Santa, his workshop and all the elves when you’re a kid…. everything one could imagine!

  4. Carla
    Carla says:

    Texx, I’m on way to MN and looking forward to all the magnificent classics on Gull Lake! I have the pleasure of joining Dave Bortner and Michelle Demist today for a cruise and early departure in the morning for Gull Lake. Looking forward to seeing everyone at this unique show!

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    Simply amazing. I’ve had dreams like this. But they were always shattered by my kids running in and pouncing on me, just at the point when all those keys were being handed over to me.

  6. Troy
    Troy says:

    I would think you guys make this stuff up, but it is just too wild not to be real!

    That rail system where the floor meets the water line is out of sight.

  7. cobourg kid
    cobourg kid says:

    As always another excellent adventure with Texx. Thanks Kemosabe! BTW I think hat that in-floor rail system would have flummoxed even A.G. Bell. I mean, how the heck does that thing work? Would love to see a photo of that cradle sans the Bell Labs “Tolka” just to try and figure it all out.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      CK – The whole automated rail / launch system in the boat house is amazing. Steve explained to us how it works, and with automated boat house (barn doors) Lee can a actually get in one of the 5 boats and if someone is in the boat house, the boat can be launched directly in to the lake and be driven away.

      To learn more about the rail system you can go to

      • Philip Andrew
        Philip Andrew says:

        How cool is that! Imagine waking up early Sat morning. Making coffee and wandering through to the boat house, ” einee menee minee mo, cool its the triple again!”
        So envious.

  8. rabbit
    rabbit says:

    The cool thing is that Lee is also a very generous man. He donated an entire hockey arena to my kid’s school as well as buildings to local colleges. It doesn’t all go into the boathouse.

  9. Stan Petersen
    Stan Petersen says:

    Thanks for sharing these treasures with us. It fits right in to my recent re-reading of Sigurd Olson’s “Listening Point”.

  10. Terry H.
    Terry H. says:

    I have to echo Rabbit’s comments..he gives away a LOT of money..also has renovated some significant early 2Oth Century homes (mansions)
    on the North Shore of Lake Superior in the city of Duluth..and they are as well done as his boats..

  11. Chris B
    Chris B says:

    you are doing a great job to get folks to come to the AGM for ACBS next year. wow. I guess the drive wont be to bad.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      My thoughts, exactly! I was concerned to have the 2015 ACBS event so far north, so late in the year, but now I think it will be worth the long haul just to see this boat house!
      Add another trip to the bucket list…

  12. 72Hornet
    72Hornet says:

    I had the pleasure to have met Lee at a show in Alexandria around 5 years ago. He was gracious enough to display one of his boats are out Okoboji Show the following year. All I can say is WOW! One of the great things about this hobby are the great people you get to meet. His boats are nothing short of spetcaular! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Bob Matson
    Bob Matson says:

    Hi everyone! I will be at the Gull lake Boat Show, signing and selling my book. I would love to meet you in person if you plan on attending. The show will be spetacular!
    If you have a great “boat story” to tell, I would love to hear it. I’m already working on my “second edition”.
    Bob Matson

  14. Violet Anderson
    Violet Anderson says:

    I am not related but am fortunate enough to live on Gull Lake and able to enjoy seeing the woodies drive by…. Wondering if tours are open to the public…what a treat to be able to see all that engineering in person.

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