Making Waves

Michigan’s Boat-Building Industry, 1865-2000

Subjects: Michigan and the Great Lakes, History, History, Labor History, Maritime
Paperback : 9780472052578, 328 pages, 27 B&W Illustrations; 5 tables, 6 x 9, January 2015
Ebook : 9780472120987, 304 pages, 27 B&W Illustrations; 5 tables, January 2015
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An entertaining study of how Michigan put American boat building on the map

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Michigan will always be known as the automobile capital of the world, but the Great Lakes State boasts a similarly rich heritage in the development of boat building in America. By the late nineteenth century, Michigan had emerged as the industry’s hub, drawing together the most talented designers, builders, and engine makers to produce some of the fastest and most innovative boats ever created. Within decades, gifted Michigan entrepreneurs like Christopher Columbus Smith, John L. Hacker, and Gar Wood had established some of the nation’s top boat brands and brought the prospect of boat ownership within reach for American consumers from all ranges of income. More than just revolutionizing recreational boating, Michigan boat builders also left their mark on history—from developing the speedy runabouts favored by illicit rum-runners during the Prohibition era to creating the landing craft that carried Allied forces to shores in Europe and the Pacific in WWII. In Making Waves, Scott M. Peters explores this intriguing story of people, processes, and products—of an industry that evolved in Michigan but would change boating across the world.

Scott M. Peters is Curator of Collections at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing and a lifelong Great Lakes boater. A frequent contributor to Michigan History Magazine, he has been collecting information on the state’s boat-building industry for the past 25 years.

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