My History

Chris Craft Wooden Boat History | Smith Ryan Boat Company |1874 To 1971

In a tiny town in Michigan on the St. Clair River, young Christopher Columbus Smith constructed his 1st skiff. This would not be the very last boat he crafted. He constructed many punts or skiffs within the many years to follow. At the age of 20 his reputation as being a master boat builder preceded him. He joined along with his brother Hank and began building boats full time. With the interest in these hunting skiffs grew, Chris and his brother began to increase the production of them quite swiftly. It would not be too long before they formally went into business as the Smith Ryan Boat Company. John “Baldy” Ryan was the financier that made this achievable.

It was with the formation of the Smith Ryan Boat Company that the runabout we identify as a Chris Craft Wood Boats would evolve. Speed became the focus of these boat models. In 1910, they debuted their boats around New york at different boat exhibits. These boats were quick and gorgeous. It’s said that they persistently beat much more advanced European boats in every race.

It was not till the 1920’s, after Ryan dropped from the partnership and the business became Chris Smith and Sons Boat Company, that Chris-Craft boats was brought to the masses. Most likely with inspiration from Henry Ford (who was an owner of a Chris-Craft), Chris Smith began building boats assembly line style, tremendously reducing the production cost and time, thus leading them to be significantly more inexpensive for the growing middle class. Before this, they were handmade wood boats. However, the great Depression was looming large just around the corner. For the duration of these lean years, Chris Smith and Sons launched a line of low-end wood powerboats, in order to stay solvent, and it worked.

In 1930, Chris Smith and Sons Boat Company became Chris-Craft with Jay Smith, Chris’s son at the helm. He would keep this position for nearly 31 years. The business would continue to prosper as a non-public business through the 1930’s. In 1939 Chris Smith passes.

During WWII, Chris-Craft, like many industries in the United States, supported the war effort. They were commissioned by the US Navy to construct patrol boats, utility launches and rescue vessels. For the duration of this time, personal boat production was minimal, but nevertheless continued.

Straight out of the war efforts, business boomed in the earlier 1950’s for Chris-Craft. They launched virtually 160 diverse models for all ranges of customers. They could boast that a number of the wealthiest people in America owned a wood Chris-Craft. Employing such elements as mahogany, teak and brass, even their low-end boats were deemed top quality.

By 1955 Chris-Craft launched its 1st fiberglass boat. But sadly, this was the beginning of the end for the wood Chris-Craft boat. In 1971 Chris-Craft produced their very last wood boat.

Though Chris-Craft has been purchased and sold several times since 1960, each and every owner has seen fit to carry on the legendary quality and magnificence of Chris-Craft boats. It is possible to even now own a Chris-Craft today and know that you are sailing in a class of your own with a Chris-Craft. Contact Hagadone, a premier Vintage Wooden Chris Craft Boat, offering Chris Craft boats as well as restoration and wooden boat repair services.

For more information about owning a Chris-Craft boat, contact our Sales Center @ 866.525.3232 or via email You can also visit our website @ www(dot)hagadonemarine(dot)com. For restoration services contact the Resort Boat Shop @ 208-667-5099 or via email
Danger Man – My History

No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith

No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith


The first paperback edition of the classic biography of the founder of the Mormon church, this book attempts to answer the questions that continue to surround Joseph Smith. Was he a genuine prophet, or a gifted fabulist who became enthralled by the products of his imagination and ended up being martyred for them? 24 pages of photos. Map….

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West


Immediately recognized as a revelatory and enormously controversial book since its first publication in 1971, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is universally recognized as one of those rare books that forever changes the way its subject is perceived. Now repackaged with a new introduction from bestselling author Hampton Sides to coincide with a major HBO dramatic film of the book, Bury My Heart at Wo…

That's Not in My American History Book: A Compilation of Little-Known Events and Forgotten Heroes

That’s Not in My American History Book: A Compilation of Little-Known Events and Forgotten Heroes


History classes reduce America’s story into a dry litany of dates, names, and places. That’s Not in My American History Book tackles the messy details, reclaims disregarded heroes, and sets the record straight. This book explains why July 4th isn’t really Independence Day, reveals 19th century mudslinging that labels Andrew Jackson a “murderer,” and even unveils the only vice president with a numb…