Tomahawk Historical Society replaces On Target boat building windows

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – Thanks to a donation of materials from Harley-Davidson, members of the Tomahawk Historical Society replaced the windows on the building that houses On Target, a boat built by the Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company in 1961.

The boat is stored in a small building next to Washington Park and across the street from the Tomahawk Historical Society, which is located at 18 E. Washington Ave.

On Target is a fiberglass prototype boat.

“The 18-foot, two-passenger craft was the result of an 18-year dream by its designer and (Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company) founder, Frank Winter,” a plaque in the building explains.

After its construction in 1961, the craft was unveiled at the Marine Trades Exhibit and Conference in Chicago, Ill.

According to the plaque, a company press release at the time of its construction described the missile-shaped vessel as “A radical departure in boating, encompassing futuristic design, three-point suspension with front rudder steering and a totally enclosed-by-position locked outboard motor.”

The company said the rudder steering system was meant to achieve “a more level ride, as the boat does not bank or act erratic, since the line of thrust is always forward, just as it is in an automobile or plane.”

On Target was featured in Newsweek and on the Today Show during a boat show in New York City.

“With its fighter plane-like fuselage, it was part of Winter’s extensive involvement in boat racing,” the plaque states. “Despite its groundbreaking features and advance publicity, the one-of-a-kind- futuristic craft never made it into production.”

In 1998, after years of storage, Ed Bembinster donated the boat to the Tomahawk Historical Society. The craft, in “major disrepair,” was restored by Wagner Fiberglass Repair, AK Upholsters and Designer Graphics.

After its restoration, the craft again remained in storage, except for occasional appearances at YesterFest and the Antique Boat & Motor Show, both in Tomahawk.

The Historical Society received a grant from the Mead-Witter Foundation, Inc. of Wisconsin Rapids in 2008, which allowed for the construction of the building On Target is currently housed in. The building was completed in 2009.

The building’s new windows will allow for a clearer view of a piece of Tomahawk history.

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