There are very few survivors of the Paper Boat era. We have tracked down only four hulls, although we have searched far and wide. If you live in the NE United States there is one perhaps not too far from where you are. Otherwise you're out of luck.
You can choose from three locations:
The Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY has one 30 foot paper single rowing shell, probably of Waters' manufacture. I believe it is still hanging on the wall of their restoration shop and you are free to stop by and see it with a museum admission. The rest of the museum is a collection of aviation and local history displays. As you might gather, the museum has a significant emphasis on Glenn Curtiss - a local aviation pioneer and speed demon.
Click here for photo of Hammondsport shell
The Resnneselaer County Historical Society in Troy, NY has one 26 foot paper rowing shell in its collection. It is rigged with a sliding seat for a single rower. The last time I saw it, it was hanging in the carriage house, which is behind their main building(s). It is a little hard to see in this location. Their library has a good set of city directories and information on Waters & Sons.
The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, NY has TWO paper hulls.
- One is a 14 ft rowboat that is in poor condition. It shows the signs of serious neglect before it was acquired by the museum. The hull has sagged, some of the wood parts are broken, the paint is peeling, and there are a couple of holes in the hull. But... it has a Waters and Balch name plate, so we can be reasonably sure that it is authentic.
- The second is a 20 ft long "coxswains gig". It has a seat for a single rower and can be configured with a seat for an additional person in the stern. It is in remarkably good condition as it was stored for many years in a boathouse in Glenns Falls NY before it was donated to the museum.
NOTE: Both of the ADK museum paper boats are in their storage facility & are not on public display. Advanced arrangements are required to spend some time with them. There are scheduled storage shed tours in the summer that might give you a quick look. Even if you can't see a paper boat, the museum is an interesting place with many boats on public display as well as great deal of information on the Adirondacks. A visit to NY's North Country would be remiss without a stop!
If there are more paper hulls out there we are eager to hear of them! (email address on home page).
© Ken Cupery 2011