Story of Elco

Elco, which stands for Electric Launch Company, developed a series of electric and gas propulsion boats that became the premier recreational boats of their day, beginning in 1893. When World War One came along Elco produced hundreds of motor launches for the British Navy. However, it wasn't until after that war that the company really hit its stride building unique, high quality electric and gas launches. Thomas Edison, J. P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor, the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia and hundreds of other notables had to have one. In 1928, a year after he flew solo across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh spent a summer getting acquainted with a 38 foot Elco cabin cruiser that he chartered to get away from the roaring crowds. The "LoneEagle' decided that this would be the perfect ways to find solitude after his marriage to Anne Morrow. With the help of some very closed­mouthed Elco executives, he purchased a 38 foot cruiser, changed the two rear single berths to one double berth and had the boat moored along a deserted stretch of Long Island beach in preparation for his wedding day. The boat was named "Mouette." After the wedding ceremony he, with the help of Elco executives who were in on the plot from the beginning, the couple made their way to the 'Mouette" and spent a few days of their honeymoon in complete privacy. Between the world wars, Elco became the premier boat builder of its day. Chris Craft, Gar Wood, Sheppard and many others produced beautiful boats, but none compared to Elco's yachts. During World War Two Elco produced 399 PT boats for the US Navy, including PT109. This was the high point of production at Elco for after the war the returning Gl's were much more interested in marriage, raising a family and a new home than in recreational boating. Thus Elco was forced to close its doors in 1949, some thought forever. It is estimated that out of 7500 yachts that were built about 400 are still in use. But that is just the beginning of the story as in 1987 the name Elco was purchased by Joseph W. Fleming and restarted in Highland, New York. Under his direction, the same quality of perfection that was the hallmark of the original Elco company was retained. Twenty-six Elco launches in the 18 foot, 24­foot and 30­foot models have been built by this new company using the very latest in materials and technology, while retaining the style and uniqueness of the original boats. The company presently is still making small boats but the days of the wooden yachts are gone.

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