THE GREAT DEPRESSION
Big Four Boat BuildersIn additon to Chris Smith and Gar Wood, John L. Hacker and Horace E. Dodge had both entered the boatbuilding fray. Hacker built HackerCraft Boats, known the world over for their ?ne craftsmanship and sleek V-bottom design which allowed greater speed at lower horsepower. Mr. Dodge opened with a small shop in a corner of the family’s car manufacturing plant, which later expanded to 100 acres in Virginia. The new plant, in a spectacular piece of unfortunate timing, opened in the same week as the 1929 stock market crash. He employed 700 workers and was producing 40 boats a day. Dodge’s goal was to provide boats for the average family. However, every Dodge Watercar sold was actually a gift from Horace Dodge’s mother since they cost more to produce than the income received from the sale. During this time, every boat builder and engine manufacturer saw reduced orders and struggled just to stay in business. Gar Wood teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, but stayed with their luxury line of boats, and survived. Johnson Motors over- expanded and fell victim to the economic times, selling out to Stephen Briggs’ OMC corporation, completing the rollup with Evinrude, ELTO, Lockwood/Ash. Dodge stopped producing pleasure craft in 1936.
CanoesFancy color designs began to become ‘big’ in 1930. The Old Town Canoe Company catalog shows 9 color combinations, and others could be ordered as well. Other options such as cane or slit back chairs were available as well as foot braces, carrying yokes and a variety of different paddles.
Cruiser for $1495!In a sign of the times, buyers were scarce, and the boat and engine manufacturers sold product virtually at cost just to keep their doors open. A 15.5' Chris Craft Utility sold for just $406, and a 19 foot Dodge boat, yours for $695.
Average Salary: $1,506/Yr
New House: $5,972
New Car: $800
Quart of Milk: 11¢
Gold per ounce: $35.00