The Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show is held in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the Village of Hessel, Michigan. Entries in the boat show arrive each August from as far as California and Florida and include dinghies, rowboats, canoes, launches, sailboats, utilities, runabouts, large cruisers, racers and classic non-wood. Mertaugh Boat Works, which is included at the eastern end of the boat show, had the first Chris-Craft franchise in the United States and continues to thrive.
The Century Boat Company was founded in 1926 by James and William Welch of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The 1930's presented tough economic times for all boat manufacturers but Century held on by offering numerous models both small and large.
In 1933, Gates Harpel became the General Manager and provided continuality of management for the next sixteen years. During the WWII war years, Century built low slung boats that were used as troop movers across the rivers of Europe.
After the war, Century no longer made any race boats and concentrated on the recreational boating market.
Without a doubt the most profitable wooden boat era of the company was the period from 1951 to 1960. As school and work schedules slow down and temperatures heat up, summer is the perfect time for a road trip in Pure Michigan!
Summer is meant for road trips with the windows down, music up, and good times on the horizon.
I’ve had the pleasure of exploring quite a bit of Michigan’s pleasant peninsulas, and when I hop in the car and hit the road from my home in Traverse City, I often find myself heading toward the miles of Great Lakes coastline that are always just a  short drive away, no matter where you are in the state. Head north from New Buffalo on Red Arrow Highway along Lake Michigan to explore the quaint coastal villages of Union Pier, Lakeside and Harbert on your way to St. The region’s climate is heavily influenced by Lake Michigan, and orchards and vineyards checker the landscape. Follow the signs from Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman to this beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan beach.
M-22 receives much of its well-deserved notoriety for the many scenic destinations along its northern reaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. On a hot summer day, the beach at Arcadia is the perfect place for a refreshing swim along the sandy shore. Often overlooked by travelers heading north, Michigan’s “Sunrise Coast” offers a Great Lakes setting with a beauty all its own. Constructed in 1870, this classic Lake Huron beacon is a must-stop when traveling along M-23.
Dedicated in 1932, Lumberman’s Monument recognizes the hard-working lumbermen of Michigan’s early logging industry. Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the AuSable River and surrounding area. A trip across the “Mighty Mac” always involves breathtaking scenery, and the drive west from St. Held each August in the Les Cheneaux Islands, the Antique Wooden Boat show is one of the largest gatherings in the country of classic vessels dating back to the early 1900s.
Then, once I figured out where Presque Isle Harbor was in Michigan (thanks Google), it immediately made me think about E.J. Gene Mertaugh quickly began selling boats, and in the early days, due to poor roads north, he struggled to get the new wooden boats from the plant in Algonac to his customers in Hessel in a timely manner.
The history of Chris-Craft runs deep throughout Michigan and on Lake Huron, and the connection I made when learning about the Presque Isle area made me think how many times Mr. The Presque Isle Harbor Wooden Boat Show was brought about by 3 founding fathers (John Vogelheim, Dave Kowalski Sr. For more information on this year’s event, including registartion, accomodations, Bob or I would be happy to answer help. So much ice in Hessel this year, there might be a ‘berg or two floating around mid-June. If the dashed line shown on the Michigan map is really the course Gene Mertaugh followed through the very center of Lake Michigan, he had even bigger kahonees than I originally thought. More Live-ish From Hessel Michigan -The 38th Annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts 2015. Feature Boat and last year’s Best of Show winner the flawless “Hornet” 1932 28’ GarWood, Schipps V12.
McKenzie driver admires “BOSS” a 1921 42’ Great Lakes Boat Building Corporation, Milwaukee.
You know the quality beer was consumed in large quantities in upper Michigan when a race boat with no transom wins an award for best transom art! So there was a while ago when if you clicked on an image in a story, it would open a new page and get much larger. We have friends that live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and help out the annual Antique Wooden Boat Show. These boats are near and dear to me as I have owned and worked on good number of these "Antiques".

We attended The Jacksonville MTOA rally on April 17 - 20th (our first since becoming members). We left Jacksonville on Sunday August 20th with friends from Asheville, Steve Miller and his brother-in-law Matt aboard. We spent the next week in Charleston - learning all about the next leg of the Great Loop that we were about to embark upon.
We travelled with Freddy Freddy and Midnight Skulker through the Dismal Swamp until Solomon's MD. We left Freddy Freddy and Midnight Skulker in Solomon's and travelled to Havre de Grace MD.
May 29 - Our next stop was for fuel on Coney Island - we felt fortunate to have found it for $4.00 per gallon. We travelled the Hudson River for three days and arrived in Waterford NY at the beginning of the Erie Canal on Monday, June 2. The purpose of this Association is to promote and enjoy the preservation and usage of antique watercraft by including its members in social events and communication. Chris and Julie Bullen brought a group of Canadian neighbors to Northern Michigan for the Water Wonderland Chapter's “August Adventure” which involved some classic boating activities during the week prior to the Hessel Boat Show.
Thursday morning the group toured Van Dam Custom Boats in Boyne City, and then drove to the Les Cheneaux Islands that afternoon to visit the Great Lakes Boat Building School. On Friday the group participated in the Water Wonderland Chapter's Poker Run and Annual Picnic, and then on Saturday they attended the 37th Annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show.
Along with the Hughes and Bullens boats, the Watts brought their 1950 15ft Heron by Link Manufacturing of Gananoque Ontario.
TSACBA members can enjoy the trip by viewing the video of our members' adventures in Michigan. Leaving Sarnia for Port Huron, Michigan and The Boyne Mountain Lodge, home for the next three nights. Chris and Julie Bullen and Bryan and Kathy Rhodes in “Gatsby” and boating down the Crooked River.
The “Clam Lock” near Alanson and Jim Watt takes the wheel of “Aqua Velvet” for a sunset cruiser. Rich’s favorite boat, the “Susan C" and Friday morning poker run in the Les Cheneaux Islands. The poker run lunch stop and Norm Kitching relaxing after driving all the way from California. Kathy Kitching enjoying a boat ride with Jim and Merridy Watt and Rich and Linda Hughes “Aqua Velvet” at the Hessel Boat Show. Jim Watt with his Link boat at the Hessel Boat Show and Chris and Julie Bullen’s “Gatsby” at the Hessel Boat show.
The brothers were winning hydroplane boat races with their designed single step hull craft.
A move to Manistee, Michigan - just across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee - provided a large three story factory to expand the company. Century provided a mixture of outboards and inboards for dealers and customers throughout the USA for the prosperous years of the late 1930s and 1940s.
Additionally, thousands of wooden ammunition boxes and wagons were built under government contracts. Streamline became the design style of the day and Century made use of it on all its models for a number of years. Ted Hewitt of New York now owned the company and  he hired the renown industrial designer Richard Arbib in 1954 to update the Century lineup.
Nick Nerbonne of The Awesome Mitten has rounded up a list of some great road trips around the state.
Fortunately for Michiganders, and for those who visit us here in the Mitten, there are plenty of options for beautiful drives that showcase the beauty of the Great Lakes State.
Sample wines at tasting rooms for over a dozen wineries along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, and bring a few bottles home to open while sharing the memories. Day passes are available, or reserve a campsite and catch one of Weko Beach’s famous sunsets. While these are among my favorite day trips in Michigan, I often look further south along this scenic coastal highway, beginning in the village of Arcadia. After cooling off in the “Big Lake,” head north along M-22 for scenic vistas from the tops of the wooded hills to the Lake Michigan port city of Frankfort. From M-55 in Tawas City, M-23 skirts the Lake Huron shoreline through the coastal villages of Oscoda and Harrisville on its way north to Alpena. The drive lives up to its name, with several viewpoints high above the AuSable Valley along the way, but also provides a glimpse into the area’s past as a major hub in Michigan’s timber industry. Ignace for a view of Lake Michigan and the Cut River 150 feet below; a trail and staircase lead to the valley floor for those looking for a mid-drive adventure. Mertaugh signed an agreement with the Chris Smith and Sons Boat Company of Algonac, Michigan (which later became the historic Chris-Craft Corporation) and Mertaugh became the very first dealer franchise outside of Algonac, MI – the agreement stated that Mr.
Mertaugh must have passed by, or even stopped at Presque Isle along the way, as he courageously made his way back up to Hessel, skirting the Lake Huron coastline with the sound of a 250HP Chris-Craft A-120 V-8 to keep him company.

To combine the pride of ownership on the part of the exhibitors, with the dedication of the volunteer workers and the scenic beauty of the functional Presque Isle Harbor.
I, along with my fellow committee members THANK-YOU and Woody Boater for the opportunity to promote our show. The Lodge were most of the mingling takes place was a summer place for the Eddy family who owned Eddy boats in Bay City Years ago. Tahoe, Hessel, and New Hampshire to pick up the new Woody Boater boat and go to New Jersey and then, go boating in Virginia. And yes, there is more Tahoe magic with a special photo shoot from Texx and the full report on the new Woody Boater Sportsman! Crossing the Mighty Mac was the secret, Da Upers had reserved the picture perfect day for Hessel. We paid $550 for it and worked on it for almost a year refinishing and rebuiling it top to bottom.
This swamp was owned in part by George Washinington and in order to log the cypress they engaged slaves who hand dug this canal over 20 miles long to float the logs. For those that know this anchorage this is just a little reminder of what you missed this year. The group arrived in the Northern Lower Peninsula Monday evening, August 5, for boating there on Tuesday and Wednesday with Bil and Karen Ballard and Jim and Wendy Mersman as heir hosts. The Hughes Aqua Velvet, a 1968 22ft Greavette Executive, was awarded First in her Class, Second Best of Show, and the prestigious major award for the show, The Bronson Family Award for Best Craftsman. Upon being asked by other racers to build boats, they hired William Sherman as General Manager and started to make boats. However, the Welch brothers stayed in Wisconsin and Sherman quickly moved back as well when George Eddy took over.
Many of the Century dealers were marinas on small lakes and an popular outboard model named Sportsman came with variety of seating arrangements and accessories to fit everyone's taste. Ed Greve, the production manager purchased one the first Cal Connell V-8 engines at the Chicago boat show and was eager to build a boat around it.
Known for its art galleries and antiques, this popular summer cruise also features numerous Lake Michigan beaches. Grab a Michigan craft beer at newly-opened Stormcloud Brewing Company and stroll along Frankfort’s pier to the very photogenic lighthouse.
Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery at Alpena’s waterfront park adjacent to the marina on the shores of Thunder Bay. Hiking trails and elaborate staircases provide access to the water’s edge, so bring your hiking shoes. The classic boathouses of the early-1900s cottages and rocky shorelines of Les Cheneaux’s 36 islands are seen by many as reminiscent of east-coast hideaways found along the coast of Maine. Following the show I saw “Wuzz a’ Fuzz” point a radar gun at the 750 hp Chevrolet as he roostertailed back to Boyne City, Michigan via the Straits. Just clicking on the image will bring up the size you see, but all these images are twice that size. It became a main comercial shipping route but now is a historic route and used by pleasure boaters. The Channels, Bays and Boat Houses of Les Cheneaux are hosts to some of the very classic boats that you will see at the show. Century expanded its model line to include other outboards and slowly added inboard models over the next few years. After passing the famed Mystery Spot just outside of town, the highway re-joins the Lake Michigan shoreline for several miles. If you’re lucky enough to make the drive early in the morning, keep your camera ready for a photo of a sailboat moored among the morning mist in one of the many natural harbors. So we are trying to catch up on the reporting so the over 7,000 of you all that came to Woody Boater yesterday can fill your eyeballs up with all the best mahogany goodness out there. The mellow musical background was provided by the Main Street Band as we gazed at the 142 entries and shopped at the Festival of Arts.
They are members of both the Toronto and Water Wonderland Chapters of ACBS, as well as members of the TSACBA.
The inboard runabouts named Sea Maid met the demand for the discriminating power boater situated on larger lakes.
Locals and visitors alike stop along the way for picnics among the dunes and swimming in the Lake Michigan surf. Thanks to our newest bestest Michiganest reporter Allen Papendick we have more amazing photos and captions today.

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