The Oldest Boats on the Lake, Part 1: Tom Sawyer's Pier

Many boaters talk about which boat is the fastest on the lake, but here's a category you don't hear much about: Which boat is the oldest?

The oldest is 81 years old. It's been on the lake since before the lake filled. You may have been on this venerable vessels and not even have known it at the time. You can find it at the dam; it's the floating pier that's used as a dock by the excursion boat Tom Sawyer.

The pier is actually a barge. It's painted blue and white, and an upper deck has been added to it. The upper deck houses a restaurant, known as Huckleberry's.

In 1929 the barge was towed up the Osage River to the future site of Bagnell Dam. Over the next twenty months it was used as a utility vessel to hold and carry various pieces of construction equipment. As the dam began to take shape, the barge was intentionally left on the upstream side, the future lake side, for whatever purposes it might serve.

Indeed, it did have further use once the lake came into being. In the mid-1930s the barge served as an equipment platform during construction of the Niangua and Hurricane Deck bridges. And during World War Two it was used to raise scrap iron and steel left on the lake bottom.

Not only is it the oldest vessel on the lake, but it also qualifies as the largest.

The second oldest vessel is also at the dam. Until a few years ago you could still ride it. Which boat is it? For the answer, click here.


© 1999, 2011 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.