The Bob Speltz Legacy Lives On At The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum

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Chris-Craft Silver Arrow “Topsy” on display at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum. (Jim Arneson photo)

The Bob Speltz Legacy Lives On
At The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum

Story by Dave Bortner
Photos by Jim Arneson & Dane Anderson

A couple of things Tom Juul said today in his BSLOL (Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes) Winter Workshop tech session at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum really resonated with me.

One, to those of us growing up in vintage boats in the 1970’s, pre-Internet, is the profound effect Bob Speltz’s Real Runabouts books had on our hobby. They were the go-to source for information about vintage boats, our Encyclopedia Britannica, if you will.


Cover of the Bob Speltz Real Runabouts Volume III.

Since the “BS” in BSLOL stands for Bob Speltz, we really emphasized his contributions last fall, when we put on the Woods and Water show here in Minnesota. Among our attendees today at this tech session, there are a number of people, at least eight, who knew Bob personally, and can attest to his fervent interest in all aspects of vintage boating, and, especially, in getting it written down!

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Classic boat restoration expert Tom Juul talked about how things have changed in his business since the 80’s from shop tools and equipment to methods of searching for boats. He did a quick synopsis of how he starts a boat restoration and then went into the tools and supplies that he likes to use. His tips and tricks included sharpening techniques for hand tools and how to make your own bungs and install them so that the grain matches the planks. (Dane Anderson photo)

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Tom Juul sharing some woodworking tips during the BSLOL Winter Workshop tech session. (Jim Arneson photo)

We even have the privilege of seeing the last boat Bob Speltz restored, a 1916 Dingle rowboat, which is here at the museum, on loan from Dane Anderson.

Today, we’re making a very special presentation to the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, on behalf of our good friends and ACBS board member, Paul and Karen Harrison.

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Dave Bortner shares some thoughts with the audience that gathered at the museum for the BSLOL Winter Workshop. (Jim Arneson photo)

Bob Speltz’s sister, Mary Keating, donated some of Bob’s scrapbooks to ACBS several years ago. Paul and Karen Harrison bought them at auction, and then had them scanned, and have made a DVD available through ACBS. After they did the scanning, they wondered “what’s next?” with this one of a kind resource.

They felt they should reside in Minnesota, and asked some of us at BSLOL where we thought they should reside. Well, there’s really only one choice, one place in Minnesota whose mission it is to honor the legacy of vintage boating and the lake lifestyle, and that’s The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum!

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Executive Director Bruce Olson added: “As a display and resource, these books will enhance and strengthen our mission. Thank you to Paul & Karen, Mary & family and to the ACBS Chapter bearing Bob’s name for this significant contribution. Bob was an important contributor to our boating community and to the Legacy of the Lake Culture we share.” – Bruce

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Dave Bortner presents the Bob Speltz Scrapbooks to Bruce Olson – Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum Executive Director. (Dane Anderson photo)

It’s our honor today to convey these very special historic documents to the museum, on behalf of Paul and Karen Harrison.

Dave Bortner
Freedom Boat Service

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One of the premier maritime museums in the country, the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum continues to grow and often changes their exhibits to keep the museum fresh and entertaining for all ages. (Jim Arneson photo)

The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum

From the website: The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum celebrates our lake traditions and legacies, and is committed to their preservation for future generations. A visit to the MLMM is enjoyable for everyone in your family.


The Maritime Gardens continues to grow adding to the museums attractions and event possibilities. (Jim Arneson photo)

Visitors will discover classic boats, grand hotel and resort history, fishing memorabilia and much more. The Maritime Gardens unfolds as the project continues the development of Phase Two. Several events are scheduled in the Gardens this summer. The Museum and Gardens provide an excellent venue for your next company event or wedding.

For more information on renting the museum facilities for your event, or how to contribute to this project, contact the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum & Gardens 320-759-1114 or you can visit their website by Click Here.

(By the way, you can click on the photos today to enlarge them.)

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The museum’s impressive Gar Wood section. (Jim Arneson photo)

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The success of early fiberglass boats played a key role in Minnesota, and is well represented in the museum. (Jim Arneson photo)

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Another shot of “Topsy” courtesy of Jim Arneson. A period when Chris-Craft began the transition from wood to fiberglass with the Silver Arrow model.

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From the Bruce Carlson collection, the row boat is a Hugo Easy Row as is the Kayak above. (Jim Arneson photo)

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The museum also has a vast collection of vintage outboard motors, a way of life for recreational boaters throughout Minnesota back in the day – land of 10,000 lakes. (Jim Arneson photo)

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Vintage miniature outboards – you can find them on display at the museum. (Jim Arneson photo)

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Visiting the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum is like taking a step back in time – The “always welcoming” Bruce Olson and his dedicated team do an amazing job with the facility both inside and outside in the adjacent Maritime Gardens area. (Jim Arneson photo)


Congratulations to the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum as the recipient of the Bob Speltz Scrapbooks donation. This is exactly where they belong for future generations to appreciate the massive contribution Bob Speltz made to the hobby.

Thanks to Dave Bortner, Jim Arneson & Dane Anderson for sharing this story with us today.


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

    What a great museum! Thanks for the story gang.

    Shout out to Paul and Karen for making such a generous donation.

  2. Gene Porter
    Gene Porter says:

    What a great service WoodyBoater provides in posting this wonderful piece. Thanks to Dave Bortner for the snappy write-up and Jim Arneson & Dane Anderson for the spectacular photos. And Paul and Karen Harrison went the extra mile with their Speltz scrapbook donation. Makes me sorry I did’t find time to visit when at the ACBS Annual meeting and show at Gull Lake last fall – and provides a good reason to return!
    Gene Porter
    Chair, ACBS Museum Committee

  3. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    This looks like one that needs to be on the travel agenda. As one of those who knew Bob it would be a real thrill to see and handle those scrapbooks. Some day we need a story on Bob’s mother. A wonderful and spirited lady.

  4. Jim Arneson
    Jim Arneson says:

    The two hour ride back to Minneapolis gave me time to reflect on what happened at the museum during our time in Alexandria. We shot a lot of photos, met a lot of nice folks, got to learn some really interesting things from Tom Juul, and see the wonderful museum exhibits. But the best part for me is nicely captured in the last photo above. Bruce Olson beaming as some of the kids in attendance show off their “I Spy” clipboards. This little museum is a jewel and Bruce Olson knows how to welcome everyone!

  5. Bill Anderson
    Bill Anderson says:

    I also went to the museum last fall during the show. I was impressed that it covered all types of boats and the antique fishing tackle.I actually learned a lot in the 4hrs that I was there and I thought I was a know it all,haha over all put it on your list to see,and thanks for all the people like Paul and Karen to make this happen,along with Dave,Jim and Dane for keeping us informed ,,and again with great pictures.A well ran museum,congrats to Bruce and his staff,, Bill

  6. tommyholm, the scan man
    tommyholm, the scan man says:

    good job, everyone.
    the Speltz’s Scrapbook DVD of the scanned images is available from ACBS Headquarters. Proceeds go to the Scholarship Program.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Tommy (that would be “Mr. Scan Man”) for chiming in today, re the Bob Speltz Scrapbook DVD. We have received a few requests today from people interested in purchasing a copy of the DVD from the ACBS HQ website, but it doesn’t appear to be listed on the Ships Store menu.

      Can anyone from ACBS HQ provide some assistance on how folks can purchase a DVD from the website please? – Texx

  7. David Selvig
    David Selvig says:

    Great presentation by Tom Juul. The museum has never looked better. It kind of takes your breath away every time I step in there. Oh and the lunch was fantastic!!

  8. Fred Bursch
    Fred Bursch says:

    As a member of the museum board for many years, it is extremely gratifying to read all of these nice comments. The museum has been a labor of love for many of us and it is great to know that others appreciate all of our hard work.

    We can’t do it without the support of many. Please consider becoming a sustaining member and help us preserve these artifacts and promote the hobby. You can join by visiting the museum web-site at

  9. Doug Adams, ACBS
    Doug Adams, ACBS says:


    Congrads! it is a fitting honor that Paul and Karen’s donation resides at your museum. Thanks to Dave, and the rest of the BSLOL chapter, as well!
    it was a special treat to meet you at the MN show last fall, and that green deck striped Chris-Craft you brought still resonates in my mind!

  10. Jack Lynett
    Jack Lynett says:

    Great move on the part of Paul & Karen.
    I had a complete set of all Speltz books, some autographed.
    They were donated to a local library.
    We all should pass this heritage on.

  11. Stan Petersen
    Stan Petersen says:

    This is in fact a great museum. It is also my honor that they are now displaying Bob’s 1954 Chetek which I had the privilege of restoring. After 6 years at the museum on Lake Okoboji in Iowa, it is now where it belongs, with the BSLOL Speltz display.
    Thank you, Bruce.

Comments are closed.