Every season the New Hampshire Boat Museum has one or more exciting and unusual exhibits that will pique your interest. 

Letting Off Steam: Escaping to New Hampshire during the Golden Age of Steam


Armenia White on Lake Sunapee


SS Mount Washington on Lake Winnipesaukee 

(Courtesy of Mount Washington Cruises)

“A visit to New Hampshire supplies the most resources to a traveler, and confers the most benefit on the mind and taste…”  

-Thomas Starr King (excerpt from The White Hills: their Legends, Landscape, and Poetry, 1859)

In the years between the end of the Civil War (1865) and the turn of the century (1900) the United States would become urban, industrial, and exceedingly rich: its gross national product soaring from $9.1 billion to $37.1 billion and its per capita income tripling.  Much of this was driven by steam.  Steam would transform life then the way computers, chips and the internet have changed life today.

Steam engines would not only drive trains, but transform agriculture, industry and boating in New Hampshire.  As the rail systems pushed north of Concord in the mid-1800s agriculture and industry had access to new and distant markets.  Steam replaced waterpower and soon steam driven mills dotted the landscape.

The railroads also brought something to New Hampshire: tourists!  Some came for the fresh air and grand vistas of the White Mountains.  Others came for its freshwater streams and lakes.  It was possible to leave the noxious environments of New York or Boston and arrive on an overnight train at Lake Station on Lake Sunapee.  At its height, five express trains a day left New York for the Weirs on Lake Winnipesaukee.  Large passenger steamboats and grand hotels sprang up to meet the demand, many of which were owned by the railroad companies.

Summer tourists also created summer residents and soon New Hampshire saw not only rustic “camps”, but grand summer “cottages.”

Who's in the Boat?

A look at the history of the the sport of rowing.

New Hampshire has had an interesting relationship with competitive and recreational rowing.  This is where competitive collegiate rowing began!  In 1852 at Center Harbor the first Yale-Harvard regatta started the first intercollegiate competition of any kind and the oldest rivalry as well.

Competitive rowing is often perceived as white, male and elitist.  Yet there have been and are others in the boat.

In this exhibit we look at the role New Hampshire women have played in crew: from the “mother of rowing”, Stratham’s Ernestine Bayer to Wolfeboro’s Hilary Gehman who is training and coaching women athletes for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

Often “not seen,” we look at the participation of people of color in competitive rowing.  Were you aware that there are black Olympic crew members?

The 2020/21 exhibit is presented by Goodhue Boat Company and Eastern Propane & Oil, and the following generous sponsors.



The Museum is now CLOSED for the winter. Thank you for a great season!  See you in spring 2023. 

The Museum is now CLOSED for the winter. Thank you for a great season!  See you in spring 2023.