Formation of the Willamette Motor Boat Club [1908]

The Willamette Motor Boat Club Organized

Portland has a Motor Boat Club that is yet in its infancy, being but four months old. A number of attempts have been made by numerous men to start a club on the Willamette river, but every previous attempt has failed. At the beginning of this season just closing a number of boys got together and decided that they must have a club. a meeting was called and everything looked bright for the launching, but a lot of talk will not produce results, so it became necessary for someone to step to the front and take the proposition on his own shoulders. This was done by George J. Kelly and James B. Welch. They had a little private meeting and decided to finance the club when the proper time came. A small houseboat of three rooms was purchased and 600 feet of waterfront was leased. The little house was towed up to a little lonely spot on the upper river, a postal was sent out announcing a meeting of the Willamette Motor Boat Club, and a good large crowd turned out in one of the centrally located public halls to see what was doing. At that meeting fifteen members were secured and arrangements were made with a machinist to move his shop to the location the next day. This was done and then the members began to come in. Before the first week was gone there were five houses and twenty-eight members. Finally the racing blood began to boil and a meeting was held to decide if a few races could be pulled off. The first races were off before anyone could stop to think, and the membership kept climbing, and today the club has more than 100 active members, and prospects of many more before the opening of next season. The officers of the club are George J. Kelly, commodore; James B. Welch, manager and treasurer; E. von der Worth, rear commodore; Gus Fleming, fleet captain. The club, during the season just closed, pulled off three sets of races, and some very fast boats were entered. The motor boat interests on the Willamette River have just begun to grow, and in fact the whole Pacific Coast is fast becoming as great motor boat country. More boats were built in Portland last year than in any three previous years put together, and next season will see many new ones plying up and down the river.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, October 1908, p. 13. )

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page —LF]


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Leslie Field, 2001