Tahoe maritime museum hosts open house | SierraSun.com

Tahoe maritime museum hosts open house

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun file photoDottie Batchelor, director of the Tahoe Maritime Museum, perches on the Stardust, a wooden motorboat that was used to give lake tours around Meeks Bay in the 1930s and '40s. The museum is a nonprofit group that has grown rapidly into one of the top freshwater historical collections in the country.
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Entering the Truckee warehouse of the Tahoe Maritime Museum, a visitor is greeted by a boat restoration workshop, historical literature and a collection of at least 100 outboard motors.

Then, the visitor encounters the main attraction: The museum’s collection of 25 vintage wooden boats between 40 and 100 years old, their polished wood gleaming under the warehouse lights.

“We want the people to know that the museum is here, [and] we want to engage the community,” said Tom Bredt, the museum president.

On Saturday, the Tahoe Maritime Museum will open up the warehouse to share its collection with the public. The second of three summertime open houses begins at 11 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m.

Admission is free and light drinks and snacks will be served.

Bredt and a small core of enthusiasts started the collection in 1987 with a single boat housed in a garage at Sugar Pine State Park. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 25 boats, requiring a warehouse to store them all. Some of the oldest include an 1890s launch called the Shanghai, the oldest-surviving

production Chris-Craft called the Godfather from 1922 (hull number 6), and the first Gar Wood motorboat delivered to Lake Tahoe, the Lemme Go First, in 1929.

“The collection is mostly the old mahogany boats from 1910 to 1960 and most are in very good condition,” Bredt said in a phone interview.

The museum’s president would not put a price tag on the collection’s total value, but he gave a hint.

“Each boat would range [in cost] from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand,” Bredt said. Together, the museum’s restored vessels describe a rich era in Lake Tahoe.

“[The purpose is] to invite the public in to see our collection and showcase Tahoe’s maritime history,” said Mel Petrosian, the museum’s campaign coordinator.

The museum staff encourages families to attend and will provide activities for children including model-boat building, knot-tying and coloring projects.

Although the official museum site is located seven miles south of Tahoe City in the West Shore town of Homewood, Saturday’s display and the subsequent Aug. 12 show will be held at the museum’s annex on Truckee’s West River Street.

The museum building in Homewood is now under construction with completion expected by next spring. When finished the new building will be a 6,000-square-foot structure of wood and rock reminiscent of boathouses of old. The museum has a projected cost of $2.9 million, largely funded by two private foundations and at least 112 private citizen donors.

Visitors can still visit a makeshift museum next to Homewood Mountain Resort on the corner of Fawn and Highway 89. The temporary site features historical artifacts, interactive exhibits and a boat display that changes periodically. The museum is open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Wednesdays.