News & Features

Historic Boat Restored for a Good Cause

Wooden boat built in 1953 will be on display at Lakeside boat show and sold to support the Montana Wooden Boat Foundation

LAKESIDE – Everyone has a pet project they work on in their spare time. For some it might be restoring an old car or taking on the Herculean task of cleaning out that back closet.

For a group of guys in Lakeside, that spare-time venture has been restoring an historic Thistle wooden boat built in 1953. After nearly two years of work, the project is finally completed and the boat will be on display at the 10th Annual Big Sky Antique and Classic Boat Show from Aug. 7 to 9 before being sold as a fundraiser for the Montana Wooden Boat Association.

“She’ll be looking pretty snazzy at the boat show,” said Bill Eisenlohr, who has headed up the restoration. “I’ll be happy when this thing is done.”

The foundation purchased the boat a few years ago from a seller out East. Although the boat had some wear and tear, its structure was sound and there was no dry rot, Eisenlohr said. They have since restored it and painted it marine green and white. Inside, the boat’s wood seats shine and at the bottom of the hull is the number “701.” The number, according to Tom Schock, identifies its place in that particular class of boat.

Schock, who is now retired, once owned the W.D. Schock Company that built the very type of boat he helped restore. Schock’s father founded the company in 1946.

“It’s been a lot of fun to help with this,” he said.

The sale of the boat will help fund the mission of the Montana Wooden Boat Foundation, which was established in 2010. The Lakeside-based no-profit educates people on the history and culture surrounding wooden boats on the Flathead and in Montana. Among the foundation’s initiatives is a partnership with local schools to get kids to build a model boat so they gain an understanding og the process. For more information about the foundation, visit

See The Boat

 The 10th Annual Big Sky Antique and Classic Boat Show takes places from Aug. 7 to 9 in Lakeside. Historic boats will be on display throughout the weekend. For more information visit

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