The Boats of Belgrade: A Little History
by Rod Johnson
The last Guide Ghost story involved an old guide boat that I remembered from my youth. Thanks to our local Franny Dill, we actually have a picture of the old craft — with her grandfather Charles Grant sitting in it. He was in fact the owner and guide that operated the boat for several decades in the 1900s.
This brought me to thinking how many "named" boats there were here over the last 70 years or so. I tested by memory and wrote down as many as would come to mind and, WOW, the number was near 20. I'm sure that I've missed many and that you readers could fill in the gaps. Considering that this is the last issue of Summertime in the Belgrades for the year you'll have all winter to ponder.
Here's the list that I came up with and most of their owners. Named boats seem more memorable for several reasons — names stick in your mind, named boats are often kept by owners for life and they are often remarkable in beauty or condition. You'll need patience as this list is rather long.
- Ida, a guideboat that was operated on Great Pond by guide Charles Grant (circa 1920-1960);
- Snipe, a guideboat berthed on the south end of Hoyt's Island and owned by the Mitchell family;
- Oralark, a Higgins plywood speedboat that once claimed to be the fastest on the lake, owned by the Blaisdell family;
- Happy, a Lyman that still plies the Great Pond waters with original engine, and always owned by Jack and Dianna Schultz;
- Why Worry, a 20-foot-plus Chris Craft also owned by the Mitchell family and berthed on the south end of Hoyt's Island;
- The Big Boat, a semi-enclosed Chris Craft that replaced the Why Worry during the Dowse family tenure;
- Why Worry II, a replacement boat (Lyman) for the Chris Craft, owned and named by Bill and Joan Witkin, later owners of the Mitchell and Dowse property. (During a rebuild, the name was changed from Why Worry II to Cocoa);
- Great Pond, one of the first pontoon boats on the lake, owned and operated by David Webster, long time water route mailman and character who was mimicked in On Golden Pond;
- Hukelau, usually called the "Huke", a 21-foot Grady White used by Rod Johnson and family during the '60s and '70s, later sold to Lee Roberts for his cheering camp on the north end of Hoyt's Island. (The fine craft subsequently was crushed in a storage building flattened by snow load in 1983.);
- Miss Belgrade, another early entry to pontoon boating on Great Pond and still going today after 25 years, owned by Doris and Rod Johnson and berthed at Woodland Camps;
- Aunt Betty, a beautiful wooden fishing boat of probably 14 feet, berthed at Crystal Spring Camps and owned by the Fredericks family during the '50s and '60s. (My father varnished it yearly.);
- Miss Lauren, a beautifully restored HackerCraft of about 30 feet resides in Mill Stream and is owned by the Bolduc family;
- Phhfft, a wooden Penn Yan of about 16 feet, originally powered by a 1957, 18-horsepower Johnson was berthed on Long Pond at the Provandie family camp;
- Shelley, a Penn Yan runabout powered by a 1955 Johnson 25-horsepower, was owned and operated by Glenn and Bonnie Baxter until two years ago when Glenn passed away. (They also owned a 1954 Lyman named Sunny with original 4-cylinder Universal engine. The boats were used during the same time period of about 62 years on Great Pond.);
- Mary L, another lapstrake inboard was owned by Edward and Mary Ladin and berthed on the northwest side of Hoyt's Island and later in Mill Stream;
- Peter Rabbit, a 15-foot Chris Craft owned by the Dunlap family was berthed in a Mill Stream boathouse;
- Indian, another guideboat, was owned by the August family who summered on Indian island;
- Edith M. Rockwell, a large open sea boat owned and used by the Swan family to ferry boys and goods to the Pine Island boys camp for many decades. (The boat used now looks similar, and I believe is called the Mary Swan.);
- Jubilee, was a 20-foot-plus open boat owned by T.J. Myers and later the Weltmer family on Jamacia Shores near Crooked Island.
Of the boats on the previous list, only four still ply Belgrade waters today: the Happy, the Cocoa, Miss Belgrade, and Miss Lauren.
Whoops, a late entry just popped into mind: The Storcrest, a beautiful, barrel-back Chris Craft of about 17 feet was owned by a Doctor Potter. It was housed in his boathouse in Rome, Maine and was considered one of the prettiest boats on the lake for several decades. I always called her the "Queen of the Waterways."
I have just heard from Summertime editor Esther Perne. She recalls many stories of her grandfather Ernest P. Carr and his boat Nixon, quite possibly an expression of the times, well before the President. The boat was a large Atlantic Dory and used on Great Pond starting around 1920. Esther's mother rode on the bow watching for rocks when her father entered Mill Stream before the stream was heavily dredged in the 1930s. There's much more to this and I'd like to reserve it for the first story of 2020!
Thank you all for following the Luckiest Boy stories in Summertime in the Belgrades during this 2019 season. Hats off to editor Esther Perne and Michael Breault for getting Summertime out every week. It seems hard to believe it's time to say good-bye for 2019, but may we all enjoy the coming fall and winter. Please email me with any omitted named boats at and we will update this list next season.
The Luckiest Boy
Rod Johnson was born and raised in the Belgrade Lakes in the 1950s and '60s.
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