This Wooden Boat Collection Is UNREAL!

Written by Outdoor Beasts Staff on August 12, 2016

They don’t make ’em like this anymore!

This Wooden Boat Collection Is UNREAL!

– Minnesota has a deep and storied boating history, and a new and fascinating chapter is being written in the Brainerd Lakes area.

This lake-rich part of the state has become home to dozens of the finest antique and classic wooden boats in the world. These craft — stunning statements of style and speed — are the jewels of several collectors who are preserving and sharing this unique slice of boating history.

“I have been to every part of the antique- and classic-boating universe,” said Matt Smith, publisher of “There are great collections in Michigan, Lake Tahoe, the East Coast and elsewhere, but none compare to those of Lee Anderson and John Allen. What they have in the Gull Lake area is in a whole different league.”

Minnesota boating historian Bruce Olson agrees. Olson is the executive director of the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria. “Over the past 20-plus years Minnesota has become the mecca for antique wooden boats. No other place has such extensive collections,” said Olson. “We aren’t talking about individuals with two, four or 10 boats. We are talking about collections of 20 or more, and each boat being significant.”

This Wooden Boat Collection Is UNREAL!

Allen, a Twin Cities commercial real estate developer, is perhaps the most public of these private collectors. Fascinated by boats since childhood, Allen is an articulate and ardent advocate for cabin culture and wooden boat history. He was a driving force in bringing the international Antique and Classic Boat Society wooden boat show to the shores of Gull Lake last year. He is chairman of the international advisory council of Antique Boat Museum (in Clayton, N.Y.), which features more than 300 beautifully restored boats and thousands of artifacts.

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