Category Archives: Florida

Antique Boat Museum Founder’s Legacy; The Fort Lauderdale Connection

I recently learned that Robert Cox, co-founder of the renowned Antique Boat Museum (ABM) in Clayton, New York had passed away at the age of 95.

Robert Cox

Robert Cox. Photo: Antique Boat Museum.

Classic Boat Collection

Although I am not an antique boat enthusiast, per se, I do have a lot of respect for those amongst the boating crowd who have the passion and commitment to keep those old boats afloat and protect the history of early boating. Many famous builds of the day came from this area of the world (Ontario, New York and Michigan) and an impressive part of that heritage can be discovered at the ABM.

Located in Clayton, New York, the facility holds claim to the largest collection of antique boats in North America. Situated on over four acres of St. Lawrence River waterfront, it houses more than 300 restored classics and boating artifacts. Names such as Hacker Craft, Gar Wood and Hutchinson draw spectators form across the continent and around the world to see these beauties, both in and out of the water.

The Fort Lauderdale Connection

But the ABM is only one part of Mr. Cox’s legacy. He also started a Marina in Fort Lauderdale, aptly named Lauderdale Marina, in 1946. This enterprise is more than just a marina, but more importantly, it’s something that forms part of the very history of the city of Fort Lauderdale.

Lauderdale Marina

Lauderdale Marina, looking from the Intracoastal Waterway

The property that is now the marina was an old, top secret base used by the American navy during world war two for testing torpedoes and such. Mr. Cox acquired the dilapidated docks and began selling fuel in what what was then a very remote part of Florida. So remote in fact, that passing boaters often asked ‘how far to Fort Lauderdale’ upon their arrival. For anyone familiar with the what the current part of Lauderdale looks like down at the 17th Street Bridge, there are some fascinating old photos to compare with on the marina’s web site, as well as their Facebook Page.

Today, the marina still sells fuel along with boats, motors and parts. The property also includes a popular restaurant, the 15th Street Fisheries and is one of the many stops for the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi.

Political Life

One of the other interesting pieces of Mr. Cox’s life is that he was very active on the political scene in Fort Lauderdale from the 1960’s through to the nineties, serving as it’s mayor from 1986 to 1991. He is credited as one of the main driving forces that transformed the city into what is now known as the mega yacht capital of the world. No small feat!