The Antique Boat Museum Is Always Open On WoodyBoater!

It’s like being there. Without all the ice and bad cell service

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.

Hull Record Card.. Note the logo. Oh boy. Its an old joke…

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.

Look at that room! Oh Man oh man!

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.

The Route Map

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.

Example of a 1930’s Gas can, Not the actual gas can.

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.

Cool Ladder

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 Adams Power Plant. Thankyou Wikipedia!

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.

Love the registration number

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.

27 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    What a GREAT story! I noticed on the hull card, the battery is 12 volts. I always thought only 6 volt was available back then.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I might have driven up to Clayton to see Minken II this weekend, but we are forecasted to get several feet worth of powdery blowing snow along the entire route. I guess that means there will be no boating this week, but on the bright side, no gators!

  3. gary visser
    gary visser says:

    We made a detour to see the museum last summer and saw too many boats to appreciate each but this boat seems to have snuck into many of the pictures we took.

    And WoodyBoater is a daily joy, many thanks folks.

  4. Briant
    Briant says:

    Great story. I like the logo on that advert…..dash, no star….extended t etc etc….

    Having a one off custom boat means I don’t have to worry about having the correct period logo or decal or hand painted bits on our boat.

    The following is a pic of our logo….

  5. Tom Drozd
    Tom Drozd says:

    Great story. How many of these were actually produced and how many of them remain? When I visited the boat a few years ago I noticed the hide um was brown on the green upholstery.

  6. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I see no logos. They must not have read yesterday’s story. Are we sure its a Chris Craft? lol. I’ve never seen a 30 footer so this is obviously very rare since the archives say only 4 built and even “the Essential Guide” shows an artist’s (or marketing) rendering, not an actual photo. That’s quite a history. Having watched the movie “Niagra” several times, I would be quite nervous about operating a boat just above the falls like they did, especially back in the day. I don’t suppose Sea Tow was available then, let alone many operational boats in the area based on economics of the time period.

  7. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    When we attended the Grand Island Antique Boat Show back in 2012 with Old School, the locals took us on a tour of the area. We ended up going to the edge, well close enough to see and feel spray from the falls, and yes what a current. They told us if we turned off our engines we could hear the roar of the falls. Yea, right! I did put in neutral to take a picture, and quickly noticed that we were really moving, plus something about the fear in Ronnie’s screams!
    What looks like smoke in this picture is the mist from the falls!
    Great memories, and a great classic show to attend.

    • Ronnie Mykols
      Ronnie Mykols says:

      Uh, excuse me…Me screaming!?!? I may have been gently nudging you when we got to the buoy’s that said DANGER Do not proceed any further!!!!

  8. Dean
    Dean says:

    I don’t recall ever seeing a bow light like that on an early Chris Craft. I would have thought it would have a large soup can.

  9. Brian Robinson
    Brian Robinson says:

    16 of this hull were produced from 1928-1930. Some were runabouts and some were Custom Commuters. The numbers are unclear because a certain somebody stole six hull cards in the 1980s. Two exist, both 1928 flat deck runabouts. This boat and another that Earl Sheehan restored for a lady in Ohio? (which I have never even seen a picture of).

    Cool boats, basically a 28-footer with the two feet added to the second cockpit.

    Yes in the late 20s CC went back and fourth between 2-6Vs and a single 12V battery in the big engine applications.

  10. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    Right above the falls is where I learned to water ski. There is even a slalom course set up in view of the mist. It is always fun to take people within an earshot of the falls.

  11. Syd
    Syd says:

    If you look close at the bow light it is a white one the red and green are on the sides back then boats 30 ft and over had to have a white center running light

  12. Tom Drozd
    Tom Drozd says:

    I have a 1928 model 3 that was delivered by Rail Car on 7-7-28 to New Jersey. Doesn’t say on the hull card where in New Jersey. Hull # 2099. Maybe someone knows of it??? Any info would be appreciated.

  13. tom
    tom says:

    Is that how the ladder would normally be stowed? Never saw anything like that before.I imagine it beating the crap out of the side of the boat.

  14. Bob Miklos
    Bob Miklos says:

    The only card missing is from the first boat hall number 4000, which is photographed, and it is a Custom Commuter. The ones that look to be missing are an older card of a different size, as of 2012 they were still available.
    Chris Craft made 6 Runabouts, 2 flat decks, 4 upswept, and 10 Custom Commuters.

  15. Bob Miklos
    Bob Miklos says:

    Bob Miklos

    The only card missing is from the first boat haul number 4000, which is photographed, and it is a Custom Commuter. The ones that look to be missing are an older card of a different size, as of 2012 they were still available.
    Chris Craft made 6 Runabouts, 2 flat decks, 4 upswept, and 10 Custom Commuters.

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