CLRA Donates Rowing Shell To Lawson Center

Recently, the Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association, working with Craig Butler, volunteer exhibit coordinator, donated a rowing shell to the Lawson Boating Heritage Center.

Chautauqua Lake has a rich history of rowing that spanned the late 19th and early 20 century. Rowing, however, mostly died out by the late 1930s. Except for individuals who rowed singles during the past 65 years, the sport of rowing had all but vanished.

In December 2005, visionaries led by Joe Gerace reintroduced the sport of rowing to Chautauqua Lake. The club has developed solid high school and masters recreational programs and as a result owns a number of sweep rowing boats. Through a grant from the Sheldon Foundation, the association was able to purchase newer equipment including a four-person sweep shell. This enabled the club to retire one of its older boats.

Butler has been looking to upgrade the rowing exhibits at the Lawson Boating Heritage Center. The Lawson Center previously had two singles, and its donation has added the center’s first sweep rowing shell. It is a four-person boat named Apocalypse manufactured by Schoenbrod in the mid 1980s. CLRA during its formative years purchased the boat used from the Fairport Rowing Club near Rochester.

A crew of CLRA members got together to prepare and transport the boat for travel to Bemus Point. The shell has already been raised into place and is suspended from the ceiling in one of the museum’s three levels. Its 44-foot length makes for an impressive exhibit – a perfect fit spanning the building’s 50-foot interior width. For more information about the CLRA, visit or email