In The Begining
In the year 1875 a group of Wyandotte men led by one John McKnight met to form a boat club. The Wyandotte Boat Club was officially organized and purchased a ten-oar barge out of Detroit. The first home of the club was at the foot of Pine Street in a shed behind the summer home of a resident of Wyandotte. A small boat house was erected at the foot of Vinewood to shelter the barge. It was a two story wooden structure, roughly constructed of wide boards with some trim at the top. Around the building were wide verandas where young ladies vied for seats of honor when the town was competing on the broad river below. It was the first official home of the Wyandotte Boat Club. They put in long hard days at the steel mill and boat works and rowed to relieve the tensions of the day. They competed against The Detroit Boat Club and The Ecorse Boat Club located to the north of Wyandotte. At that time the only means of transportation was to row to the race and row back home. The club’s second home was in a one bay shell house behind the Legion on Vinewood. The rowers launched from a dock directly in front of the Legion building. The rowers rowed out of the legion until a new club was constructed in 1944.
The Old Club
In 1944, through the efforts of William E. Kreger, who has been a life long rowing enthusiast and benefactor, the boat club was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. Soon after, the Wyandotte Chemical Corp. deeded a seven and a half acre parcel at the foot of Mulberry St. to the club. The parcel of land included a small body of water known at the time as Burrell Slip. Through donations only, the club built a new boat house on the site. It was 90 ft by 36 ft and although it had been expanded over the years it was the home of the Wyandotte Boat Club for fifty years. The old club featured a two bay shell house with a locker and shower room. It was all built with donated materials. A complete club house was also built on the river and in 1953 it was leased to The Wyandotte Yacht Club. The revenues of that lease went to support the club’s rowing programs as it does today.
The WBC of Today
In the early 1990’s, with the expansion of women’s rowing programs, the club once again found itself out of room. The shell house was full to capacity and the club continued to have winning seasons. Due to its success and the surge in growth, the club found itself in need of larger facilities or it would be put in the difficult position of refusing young people interested in the sport. The club being in need, went to its long time friends and benefactors BASF Corp. and Bill Kreger for help. Working with the City of Wyandotte and many other groups, the club embarked on a process of designing a new world class, Olympic caliber facility which currently stands. Over the 125 years of the club’s existence it has come full circle and is once again located at the foot of Pine Street where it all began. to be built one mile south of its present location on the Detroit River, on land generously provided by BASF and the City of Wyandotte. The new 1.8 million dollar facility has enabled the club to increase its rowing family to include six local schools that have rowing programs. The funds for construction were raised through tax deductible donations and bank loans. On January 14, 1997, after sixteen months of construction, the first high school and club crews began winter training in the new facility. The success of the project was primarily due to the cooperation between community leaders, the City of Wyandotte, and the dedicated members of the Wyandotte Boat Club. The Wyandotte Boat Club was inaugurated 127 years ago in 1875 and it has always held a position high in the annals of rowing. It has grown from a small shell house on the Detroit River to multi-million dollar facility on the Detroit River’s Trenton Channel. It has been the aim of the club and its officers to build a bigger and better facility for the young people of Southeastern Wayne County and to encourage them to flourish physically, mentally and morally.