Yes, the Classic Chris Craft Boat Originated in Algonac, MI
Even if you're not an avid boater, you may be familiar with or have at least seen a picture of the Chris Craft boat. If you need a reminder, they look like this:
Sleek, made of wood, and overall just pretty. I'm sure that would not be an acceptable nautical term but, it's how I feel nonetheless.
But, did you know that these gorgeous boats originated in Michigan?
In 1864 in the town of Algonac, Michigan, 13-year-old Christopher Columbus Smith built his very first boat, or "skiff" as he called it back then. Even at such a young age, he was apparently able to not just produce boats but produce quality boats to the point where he had earned a reputation as a "master boat builder."
Clearly, this boat-building skill ran in the family since Chris went on to join his brother to produce boats full-time.
By 1910, Chris Smith was a partial owner of the Smith Ryan Boat Company which focused on making roundabout boats to sell to the public. Roundabout boats are defined as small motorboats that can hold between four to eight people. They're generally used for leisurely activities like finishing, skiing, and so on.
The boat-building business stayed in the family with Smith's son, Jay, taking over as the GM in 1927. During his reign, he helped the now Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company build its reputation as the world's largest manufacturer of mahogany powerboats.
From 1927 to today, the Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company:
- Built boats for the U.S. Navy and Army during WWII. By '45, they had produced 12,000 rescue and patrol boats
- Manufactured their first fiberglass boat in 1955
- Built their very last mahogany boat in 1971
Now, if you're looking for a classic Chris Craft wooden vessel, you'll either have to fix one up yourself or find one already restored (I'm sure for a hefty price). Like this one built in 1952:
This one, for example, is selling for $74,000. But, it is a stunning boat. So, perhaps the price is justified?
Chris Craft boats are still in production to this day. Although, they're now manufactured in Sarasota, FL. You can see their current models here and learn even more about the history of Chris Craft boats here.
If you love boats to the point where you would live on one given the opportunity, this might be it. Well, at least temporarily. Check out this Airbnb houseboat in Michigan: