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Indian Lake Boat Company ~ Classic Wood Dart Boats Started in Lima Ohio 1920s

Cruising the lake in the Lucky Star, a Dart boat made by the Indian Boat Company.

A Shawnee Indian Princess Pin Up Girl graces the cover of this 1941 Indian Boats company brochure.

These great looking vintage advertising brochures are for the Indian Boat Company of Lima, Ohio. They made classic sleek wood speedboats and race boats that are highly coveted now, as they were then.

They had a line of several models, the Chum, Blackhawk, and Shawnee are just a few. While my ever owning a vintage Indian Boat is a boat is highly unlikely, I hope to someday acquire a pair of those seriously cool Sea Skis water skis.

Their most famous design was the Dart Runabout, which they started building in 1924.

The Indian Lake Boat Company sold the design rights for the DART to a Toledo business group, who formed their Dart Boats Inc. company in 1928.

The Indian Boat Company was still in business in 1941, as seen by the brochures, and this letter, signed by R.T. Leidner:

1925 Lima News article about the Indian Boat Company [Source]

1930 Lima News article with history of the Indian Lake Boat Co. [Source

Indian Lake Community Church & Parsonage, Coon Lumber Co. building far right side, Russells Point, Indian Lake, Ohio

In my research, I found that the company is usually referred to as the Indian Lake Boat Company. Indian Lake, Ohio, is very near Lima, and is undoubtedly one place where they displayed and launched their demos. These brochures and the building clearly show the company name did not include the word LAKE. But the 1930 Lima News article says both names were used.

It appears they dropped the word Lake when they built the plant in Lima.

The articles say they started in 1922, as a one-man operation, affiliated with Nathan Coon's S.S. Coon Lumber Co. grounds in Russells Point/Indian Lake, then added a plant at 346 East High Street, Lima. I have yet to find any other mentions of Coon Lumber with Indian Boat Company. Nathan Coon died in 1970. His obituary does not mention Indian Boats.

A.E. Wheatley was president. No info on him. I do not know more about who started or ran the Indian Lake Boat Company.

But their creations are not mysteries...

Dart Boats
  • Dart Boats were first made by the Indian Boat Company, Inc. in Lima, Ohio 
  • which licensed the Canadian boat builder, Greavette Boats Limited to make some of their designs and use their hardware. 
  • Greavette made just 31 boats under this license and then changed to another runabout design.
  • In 1928 the name and rights to Dart Boats were sold by Indian Boat Company to Dart Boats Incorporated in Toledo, Ohio which had Webb Hayes II, as its chief operating officer.

  • Designer Irving “Hocky” Holler was retained from the Indian Boat Company
  • The Toledo company ended production and closed in 1933.
  • [Source]

The Great Depression devastated the company. Hayes tried to forestall liquidation, but by late 1933 the Dart Boat Company faded into history. Today, it is estimated that only 30 to 40 of the sleek, graceful Dart runabouts survive.
See video of the Hayes family on their Dart Boat.

They're baaack!


Eighty-five years later, the iconic Dart boat models have resurfaced in Toledo. 
Within a few miles of the original [Toledo] Dart Boat Company factory, a skilled band of craftsmen are recreating the most beautiful of the original Dart models, as well as some interpretations of the originals.
The Ramsey Brothers have bought the name rights and now are making new Darts @ dartboatcompany.com (and they're on facebook).


Bonus Facts

  • RUM WAR!  The Coast Guard & Prohibition -- Dart boats were favorites of Rum Runners during Prohibition.
  • ''Between 1928 and 1933 the Dart Boat Company built some of the finest, fastest and most elegant wooden boats in the country at their manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio. And because they were fast, Dart boats were popular with bootleggers who used them to transport illegal liquor across Lake Erie during the Prohibition years.'' - WoodyBoater 
  • ''The Dart was a favorite of “bootleggers” who were “hauling the mail” across Lake Erie during the days of Prohibition. Even fully loaded (75 cases of liquor), the Dart could speed across the lake at night, outrunning any and every Coast Guard vessel.'' [Source]

  • The Cowsills famous song, ''Indian Lake'' is, sadly, not about Indian Lake, Ohio but is about Indian Lake, Rhode Island. [Source]
  • The Cowsills at Indian Lake Ohio -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrMu5MsRaYw
  • Another video of the song - http://youtu.be/Qw7ubMgByYQ


Note: These items are part of my ''Collecting Lima Virtual Museum''. They are not for sale.

If/when I find more information on these items, I will add it to the post.

Read the Introduction to Collecting Lima Virtual Museum Project ~ My Lima Ohio Bottles, Advertising, Antiques

Ms. Dow Antiques Blog 'Tique Talk is published by msdowantiques.com
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