NNYC 150th Journal

Watching the 1897 Fourth of July Race

Well, it's bitterly cold out in Neenah right now so here is a throwback to a race on a warm July day long ago. This is a shot from a spectator boat taken by John Stevens Jr. at the start of the Lake Winnebago Championship race on July 4, 1897 in Neenah. The paddlewheeler is "Anna M". Steamboats would fill with people to view these races in addition to many more people picnicking and watching from shore. The 1897 July 4th race was won by James H. Wright in his boat "Verona." (Photo courtesy ofNeenah Historical Society)


Going on a Winnebago Cruise

The Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club has always been into racing on Lake Winnebago but in this picture from 1894 we see that cruising about on our lovely lake was a favored pastime even early on. Here we see one of the Kimberlys (either James C. or John A. Jr.) and William Z. Stuart preparing to take some well dressed ladies out for a delightful sailing cruise. This picture was taken in what is now Doty Park. The boats are Nodaway Class Catyawls - a boat unique to Lake Winnebago. (Photo courtesy of Neenah Historical Society)


Scows Being Towed to the Starting Line

In this classic photo, circa 1905, the steamboat "Fawn" pulls a fleet of scows to the starting line off Neenah. Looks a little glassy...hopefully the wind picked up a bit to fill those beautiful gaff rigged sails. (Photo courtesy of Neenah Historical Society)


Nodaway Yacht Club Manual

Here you will find the link to the 1895 Nodaway Club Manual.  The manual that you see was scanned from Commodore James C. Kimberly's edition. Pages referenced in this journal entry are the pages of the journal not the PDF document.  Your comments and additions are welcomed by clicking on "Post a Comment" located below the journal entry!

At the March 4, 1894 meeting of the Nodaway Yacht Club (minutes from this meeting)  a five pointed white star on a dark blue background shaped as a swallowtail pennant was chosen as the club burgee.  When the Neenah and Nodaway Yacht clubs were merged this is the burgee that was chosen and it is the burgee we fly today!  Furthermore, note that our burgee is of a swallowtail design, which is no longer a "legal" choice.  This is because the authorities have determined that the shape could be confused with a safety  or warning flag.  Our club is grandfathered in.  (See original burgee picture from inside flyleaf of manual pictured above).

If you look at page 17 of the manual you will see that to be a Directing Member with a vote one had to own or have an ownership interest in a Club boat.  All other members were classified as Honorary and had no voting privileges.  

On page 15 and 16 you will find the four purposes of the club under the Articles of Association.  The fourth purpose was to minimize expense and not have expenditures exceeding the amount of the treasury.  The club's mission, in this respect, is shown by the example of developing a single design standard for the Nodaway Class, the dimensions of which are shown on page 25, as well as limiting extravagent prizes and awards. 

On page 34 you will find that "No person who has ever raced a boat for hire shall sail a yacht in the Nodaway Regattas."  Hiring professional skippers to try to gain advantage over the competion had been common practice by boat owners up to this point.

All of the above is found in the manual, along with many other interesting facts about the club organization,  rules for foretelling the weather, time allowance tables, signals, compass card and much more.  Take a look, it's worth your time!


The Nodaway Yacht Club is Formed

In 1893 William Z. Stuart started sailing a single-handed catyawl Yosida that he brought from Toledo, Ohio. By the early 1890's, interest in the Neenah Yacht Club had declined and a group of men, having been enamored with the Yosida, talked about forming a new club in which all boats were of the same specification. This early concept of one-design (one of the first in the country) would test the skill and seamanship of the skipper and not the size and cost of the boat.  This group of Neenah and Menasha men consisting of William Z. Stuart, John A. Kimberly Jr., James C. Kimberly, Edward P. Sherry, James H. Wright, and Lucius K. Henry (all in their twenties) met with T. W. Orbison and W. L. Conkey of Appleton to form a sailing club.

In that meeting James Kimberly was elected Commodore.  The purpose of the meeting, after the election of officers, was to establish a model and dimensions for a club boat - at that time a boat with a catyawl rig and measurements of a 15'9" waterline, 21' in OAL, a beam of 5'6", and a draft of 9" without the centerboard was chosen -  a hybrid of 2 existing boats (Myra and Scarecrow) owned by these men.  Each boat would carry 250 square feet of main and mizzen sail, with the size of the spinnaker left to the to the sailmaker. They used sailmaker G.B. Carpenter who gave them a price of $32.50 per set for the sails, blocks made of ash, and manila rope.

You will find very interesting reading in the February 13 and February 25 minutes of 1894 of the Nodaway Yacht Club, wherein it is told how the club got its name, as well as Chapter 4 of James C. Kimberly's book (yes, he was at these meetings!) The history of the Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club of Neenah, Wisconsin: an account of yacht racing on Lake Winnebago from 1859 to 1957, of which a hardcover edition is available from club historian, Doug Hatch for $15