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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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DUBUQUE BOAT CLUB. A call for the organization of a boat club for Dubuque was raised by the Dubuque Herald in March 1879. Pointing to the recent meeting of the Mississippi Valley Amateur Rowing Association in Chicago, the newspaper mentioned that members included Burlington, Keokuk, Moline, Rock Island, St. Paul, St. Louis, Chicago, and Peoria. The annual regatta for 1870 was to be held in Keokuk where the city had promised prizes totaling $1,200. In suggesting that Dubuque become involved, the paper reminded readers that the city had "a very fine stretch of river." (1)

Articles of incorporation for the Dubuque Boat Club were signed on August 25, 1887. The signers of the articles were Joseph Morgan, C. H. McMasters, M. M. Hayden, C. N. Hooper, George F. Atkins, F. W. Langworthy and E. J. Levi. The first officers were elected to hold office in 1898. These included:

        F. A. Rumpf, president
        J. A. Koch, first vice president
        J. F. Stampfer, treasurer
        J. L. Buettell, secretary
        J. R. Lindsay, captain
        C. N. Hooper, first lieutenant
           W. Couch, second lieutenant.

At the start the club had seventy-four active members and 180 honorary members. The membership dues were $10 annually which included the initiation fee. For a time after the organization, the club met at in the rooms of Professor Keck at Ninth and Main. Members of the executive committee continued to meet at the Board of Trade rooms. (2)

In March 1889 the announcement was made of the spring regatta in May. Owners were already preparing their boats for the new season. It was expected that the club would choose two teams to complete in the annual state regatta to be held at Spirit Lake. (3) In May, 1889 the Iowa State Amateur Racing Association wrote to the Dubuque club that actual oarsmen would have free lodging at the Hotel Orleans in Spirit Lake for two days prior to the competition and during the two days of the meet as well as transportation. This offer was advertised as being the first of its kind. (4) The following day, the Dubuque club announced that it had purchased the "finest paper shell manufactured by Watter & Company, boat builders of New York. The club announced on July 14th that four teams would be competing in the state meet on July 24 and 25th. (5) The Dubuque summer regatta was postponed for two weeks in July, 1889 so that two teams could be sent to compete in the Grand Rapids, Michigan regatta. (6) Attending that regatta was perhaps comforting after the executive committee of the Iowa State Amateur Rowing Association ruled the Dubuque club out of competition at the state meet. (7) In Grand Rapids, the Dubuque Juniors came in second to great joy in Dubuque. (8) The summer regatta was rescheduled for September with competition in four-oared, single skull, canoe, tub, log, skiff, and swimming free for all with prizes offered to winners. (9)

Forty Dubuque residents accompanied the crews of the Dubuque Boat Club to the State Regatta at Spirit Lake in July of 1889. (10)

In 1894 the state regatta was held in Storm Lake. Cities in addition to Dubuque participating were Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, and Ottumwa. Free transportation was offered to all participants with a special rate for the round trip to all others. (11)

In 1895 the state regatta had been relocated to Clear Lake with Dubuque teams already practicing in June. (12) The boat house of the club was the scene of social activities. In September 1895 the Dubuque Herald reported that the "home" of the club was "Terpsichore's shrine" referring to Greek mythology and a place of dancing." (13)

When the Iowa State Amateur Rowing Association in 1897 announced there would be no state regatta. One of the problems faced in each of the past years was the weather conditions on the prairie lakes. With the continuation of the sport in jeopardy, the Dubuque Boat Club announced its intention of sponsoring a regatta of a size guaranteeing success. Invitations were sent to Cedar Rapids, Burlington, Ottumwa, and Sioux City. The site chosen was ZOLLICOFFER'S LAKE, a site which had been proposed as early as 1894. (14) There is no record of this offer being accepted. The next state regatta was held in Waterloo in 1900, the year the Dubuque club came out of debt. (15)

In 1900 the regatta sponsored locally continued the inter-club races with the addition of a swimming race, tub and log races, and skiff race. In 1901 the club moved the boat house to CITY ISLAND which was known at that time as Ham's Island. Towing the boat house was estimated to cost $1,000. (16) The same year, the fourteenth annual regatta of the local club was held. (17)

In 1904 it was decided to abandon the boat house located near the EAGLE POINT HIGH BRIDGE and the structure was torn down in 1905.

Interest was revived in 1910 and a new boat club was organized. A pennant was designed with a blue background upon which a white key carrying the letters D. M. B. C. ran the length of the flag. (18) A call for members in the Dubuque Motor Boat Club went out to anyone who owned motor boats, yacht boats, or any type of rowing craft. Plans were event announced for a regatta in Dubuque in 1911 during the JULIEN DUBUQUE CENTENNIAL. (19)

In 1947 at a organizational meeting of twenty-five boat owners, Fred Kleinschrodt was elected president and Charles L. "Chuck" EGELHOF the club's secretary and treasurer. (20) There was no decision on whether to continue using the charter of the old Dubuque Motor Boat Club. The decision was made to expand membership to boat owners in Illinois and Wisconsin. It was also decided to sponsor local drivers who wished to participate in outside regattas for speed boats. (21)

In 1949 the Dubuque Boat Club met to make plans for Dubuque's first inland regatta since 1911. The club sent 500 invitations to clubs around the United States to compete in the festivity which offers a $1,000 first prize. Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association, the Dubuque event would be the last in a series beginning in Muscatine, Iowa and then proceeding to Hannibal, Missouri and Fox Lake, Illinois. The famed Webb and Ventnor trophies which had been awarded since 1908 would also be involved. The Dubuque Boat Club in 1949 had been in existence for two years. (22) Officials of the club also planned to campaign for the construction of a small boat harbor in Dubuque. (23) Within ten years, Women's Auxiliary had been organized. (24)

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
The second annual regatta was held on July 2, 1950. In 1955 over one hundred boats representing Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Missouri were expected to compete for $1,000 in prize money at the seventh annual regatta. Following the race, a two and one-half hour water show was planned with water skiing and surf board riding. (25)

The Dubuque Boat Club sponsored the 1957 Boat Show held at MELODY MILL. The fourth annual boat show in 1958 returned to the same site. In 1959 a meeting was held in November to plan the next summer's stock and pleasure boat racing program in Dubuque. (26)

In June 1966 two youths were taken into custody after a replica of an old paddlewheeler was burned. Stored at 2625 Lincoln, the "boat" was mounted on a truck frame and operated under its own power in local parades by members of the boat club. (27)

In 1970 the boat club sponsored the "First International Boat, Travel and Vacation Show." The program featured Sam Snyder's International Water Follies which included synchronized swimming and two divers who jumped from the DUBUQUE-WISCONSIN BRIDGE. Dubuque businesses were there to showcase boating, fishing and sporting items. (28) Over the years, the organization has been involved in such community activities as selling Dubuque Summer Festival badges and sponsoring a Venetian Boat Parade in 1965 to collecting pull tabs and contributing the proceeds to the Shrine. (29)

In 2008 ninety-nine members of the Dubuque Boat Club won a $10,000 Hot Lotto drawing earning each person approximately $77. (30) A former member tipped local police and authorities seized over $8,000 in cash and playing cards involved in illegal gambling in August 2010. While some nonprofits apply for a permit to hold a raffle, the Dubuque Boat Club did not qualify because it was not a 501(c) organization. Those organizations had to keep strict records and follow definite rules. At the time of the raid, no criminal charges were filed. (31)

In 2017 the club was housed at 2656 Lincoln Avenue where the building cornerstone was dated 1958. Membership was only given by referral. (32)

The 1989 Dubuque City Directory listed 2656 Lincoln.




1. "Wanted--A Boat Club," Dubuque Herald, March 18, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790318&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. Ibid.

3. "Local News in Brief," Dubuque Herald, March 26, 1899, p. 4

4. "The State Regatta," Dubuque Herald, May 30, 1889, p. 1

5. "The Iowa Regatta," Dubuque Herald, July 14, 1889, p. 4

6. "Local News in Brief," Dubuque Herald, July 30, 1889, p. 4

7. "The Regatta," Dubuque Herald, July 26, 1889, p. 1

8. "Second Place," Dubuque Herald, August 2, 1889, p. 4

9. "A Local Regatta," Dubuque Herald, August 26, 1890, p. 4

10. "Municipal Molecules, Dubuque Herald, July 9, 1891, p. 4

11. "Ready for the Regatta," Dubuque Herald, July 13, 1894, p. 4

12. "Crews Are Chosen," Dubuque Herald, June 5, 1895, p. 8

13. "Boat Club Dance," Dubuque Herald, September 13, 1895, p. 4

14. "A Regatta Here," Dubuque Herald, July 29, 1897, p. 8

15. "Boat Club Officers," Dubuque Herald, April 1, 1900, p. 4

16. "May Move House," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, April 30, 1901, p. 3

17. "Big Crowd at Regatta," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, August 24, 1901, p. 8

18. "Motor Boat Club Elects Officers," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 24, 1910, p. 7

19. "Meet to Organize Motor Boat Club," Dubuque Telegraph Herald, February 20, 1910, p. 8

20. "Kleinschrodt Named Boat Club President," Telegraph Herald, September 24, 1947, p. 9

21. "Boating Group Holds Meeting," Telegraph Herald, October 1, 1947, p. 2

22. "Boat Races to be Held Here in July," Telegraph Herald, June 1, 1949, p. 8

23. "Boat Club Elects at Annual Meeting," Telegraph Herald, January 13, 1949, p. 21

24. "Coming Events," Telegraph Herald, September 13, 1959, p. 10

25. "Regatta Slated for Sunday," Telegraph Herald, August 14, 1955, p. 22

26. "Dubuque Boat Meeting Slated," Telegraph Herald, November 29, 1959, p. 10

27. "Scuttled," Telegraph Herald, February 16, 1966, p. 17

28. "They'll Jump From Bridge," Telegraph Herald, June 19, 1970, p. 35

29. Nevans-Pederson, Mary. "Bar Keeps Tabs on Charity," Telegraph Herald, August 27, 2004, p. 1A

30. "Groups Win in Lotto," Telegraph Herald, March 24, 2008, p. 3

31. Blanchard, Courtney. "Raid At Boat Club Shuts Down Raffle," Telegraph Herald, August 6, 2010 p. 1A

32. Dolter, Amanda. "Clubbing," DBQ: Celebrate the Good Life April-June, 2017, p. 38