Hydroplane jumping a wave photo courtesy Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College

Our friends at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT have an exciting new exhibit. Speed: Hydroplane Racing on the Connecticut River, 1900-1940 tells the tale of an exciting yet little known era.

On display from April 8 through October 9, this exhibit covers the era of speed racing on the Connecticut River during the forty years before America’s entry into World War II. Photographs, trophies and memorabilia showcase the technological innovation, design and manufacturing of that era. Also on display are vintage outboard racing motors and a vintage hydroplane.

It took a team to showcase this sport, encompassing many people – sponsors, designers, racers, and more – and each of these areas have dedicated displays. A section of the exhibit highlights the rare women racers in a male-dominated sport; women who paved the way for future female racers. Not to be left out, kids will love the child-sized interactive hydroplane.

Hilda Mueller in the Century Cyclone photo courtesy Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College


Hydroplane racing embodied innovation, speed, and change. The Speed exhibit encapsulates an activity reflective of America during the early 20th century. This exhibit is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Gowrie Group, and West Marine BlueFutures Fund.

On Friday, April 29, at the Connecticut Spring Boat Show at Safe Harbor Essex Island, Connecticut River Museum Curator Amy Trout will present “Fast Women: The Pioneering Women Racers Who Beat Men at Their Own Game.”


Carl G. Winter, a hydroplane racer from Middletown, CT

Trout recounts stories of the fearless female racers who raced alongside men in the early 1900s on the Connecticut River. Hydroplane racing was an exciting – and dangerous – new sport in the 1920s and ‘30s. The women who competed in these races were pioneers in the sport; fierce competitors who faced challenges that women in sports still face today. Amy Trout has been active in Connecticut museums for over thirty years. She has been the Curator at the Connecticut River Museum since 2009.

Don’t miss these upcoming events at the Connecticut River Museum:
• Cinco de Mayo River Cruise aboard RiverQuest: May 5
Onrust Cruises and Boat Tours: Begin May 8
• Burning of the Ships: May 14
• Lecture: Lucianne Lavin, Dutch-Native American Relationships in Eastern New Netherland: May 17
• Shanties & Sails: Live Concerts on Land and River: Begin May 31
• RiverFare: Kick off the warm-weather season, June 2
• Sea Music Festival: Maritime Music & Tradition Society’s Connecticut Sea Music Festival, June 10 -12
• Lecture: Ralph T. Wood, Secretary of the CT Audubon Society, President of Estuary Ventures: June 14
• Lecture: Gary Mowers, The History of Outboard Motors and Outboard Motor-Racing: 1900-1940: June 30
• Thursdays on the Dock: 5:30-7:30 pm: Begin July 7
• Conquer the Current Paddle Regatta: August 20

The Connecticut River Museum is a private, not-for-profit, educational institution that is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a member of the Council of American Maritime Museums and the International Congress of Maritime Museums. The Museum resides in the 1878 Steamboat Warehouse and plays an important role in collecting and protecting manuscripts, books, art, and artifacts of regional significance.

The museum maintains its National Registered buildings on Steamboat Dock in Essex, and provides a waterfront park as a venue for museum functions, community events, and quiet reflection. For more information about the Museum, go to ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269. ■

Next Article