The Story of the “Glengarry”

The Story of the “Glengarry”

By Peggy Merjanian

Steve and I headed for Bayport, Minnesota to get a story on a 1938 forty-eight foot Dingle belonging to Andersen Windows Company. I was really looking forward to this visit ever since I’d heard that the boat existed and its owner had agreed to let us feature it in The BoatHouse. All antique and classic craft fascinate me, but those that date back before “my time” impress me the most. (I have this thing about anything referred to as “antique” unless it’s older than I am.) When we arrived at the Andersen offices, we were warmly greeted by its captain, Mark Wilmes, who, together with Brandy Smith, chief  deckhand and company photographer, Patrick Zeuli, escorted us to the river area of their property. A beautifully landscaped park and gardens were the doorstep to the “Glengarry.”

From the very outset, Mark’s passion for this boat was obvious. Since 1996, he’s been the key player in its preservation and maintenance. Mark is something of a Glengarry historian and he’s committed to preserving its heritage. As he guided us through each section, we were given details and stories of the numerous improvement projects. It was apparent that Mark scrutinized every minute detail with the goal of preserving its originality. The majority of the carpentry work for the last twenty years has been done by craftsman Darrel Videen. His superior skills are evident throughout the boat. 

The Glengarry, one of a very few all-wood boats still operating on the St. Croix, is a floating museum of its life since it was launched on June 23, 1938. With the burst of a champagne bottle over her bow, the grand white wooden boat slid into the water for the first time. Fred C. Andersen fulfilled a long-held desire to be able to enjoy the leisurely pace and beautiful scenery of the river with his family and friends. 

Although the hull of the boat had been built at the Joseph Dingle Boat Works in St. Paul, Mr. Andersen stipulated that the deck and cabins be built by Andersen craftsmen under the direction of the boat’s designer, Fred W. Dingle. The windows on the Glengarry represent some of the earliest custom products made by Andersen Corporation. There are only two square windows on the boat. The rest are slightly sloped to match the gentle slope of the hull from forward to aft. According to one story, a carpenter presented with this challenge said to Mr. Andersen, “Gee, boss, you never showed us how to make crooked windows.” Named after County Glengarry in Scotland, the home of Mr. Andersen’s beloved stepmother, Sadie Andersen, the Glengarry is 48 feet, 10 inches in length with a 15 foot beam, which accounts for its outstanding stability. The boat has 16 feet of clearance above the water. 
It features a full galley to serve passengers and crew. Until recently, the original 1938 icebox had been in use. Over the years the Glengarry has had four different propulsion systems. She was launched with twin V-drive 92 horsepower Chrysler Crowns. Today, two Yanmar 110 hp, 4 cylinder turbo diesels in V-drive configuration provide the power for a cruising speed of just over 10 knots (12 miles per hour.) The boat is constructed of mahogany and cypress planking with oak ribs. About 50 percent of the planking has needed to be replaced over the years. The railings and spars are the original Philippine mahogany. 

Each fall, the Glengarry is pulled out on it own marine railway into the original 1938 boathouse where it is refurbished, repainted and readied for another boating season on the St. Croix. 

From 1977 to 1996, Bob Berg was at the helm of the Glengarry, but his association with the boat began many years before that. Bob was working in his father’s drugstore in 1938 when the hull arrived in Bayport. When he saw it roll into town on a flatbed trailer, Bob followed the truck down to the plant, where he told anyone who would listen, “You need a cabin boy on a boat that big.” His persistence paid off; Bob was a member of the cabin crew when the Glengarry made its maiden voyage and for the next three summers. After a career in the Air Force, Bob retired as a colonel and moved back to the valley area in 1977. He heard the Glengarry needed a substitute captain and casually mentioned to a friend that he’d be interested in “filling in.” He soon got a call from Mrs. Andersen asking, “How would you like your old job back?” Bob Berg continued as Captain until 1996 when Mark Wilmes took over. 

As mentioned above, the Glengarry is a 60-year-old museum and as such, houses many historical and interesting items. 

Quarter Century Club Proclamation

A framed memento in the pilothouse proclaims the Glengarry’s induction into the Andersen Corporation’s Quarter Century Club in 1963 after 25 years of loyal service on the river.

Champagne Bottle Necks

Hanging below the deck are three bottle necks from the champagne bottles used to christen the Glengarry at its launch in 1938 and at re-christenings marking 25 years and 50 years on the St. Croix. 

Superior Map

This map is a tie to the Andersen family retreat on Sand Island in Lake Superior.

Ship’s Clocks

Genuine ship’s antique clocks, one above and once below deck, were gifts from a friend of the Andersens who retrieved them from a marine salvage yard.

Lake Wood Carvings

A friend of Mr. Andersen’s who was a skilled woodcarver presented him with several nautically themed figures, which have been on the Glengarry since its launching in 1938.

St. Croix River Aerial Photo

Located on the port wall of the pilothouse this composite of aerial photos shows the St. Croix and the river valley as they appeared in 1940.

The Glengarry is a time-honored tradition at Andersen. The experience of the Glengarry is a step back in time to an era when the journey was important as the destination. 

The Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society is most fortunate to have the Glengarry at the Rendezvous this year. Do make it a point to stop by and see this historic boat. Captain Mark Wilmes and members of his crew will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.