Liberty The Second

What would a lake be without a boat and Conneaut Lake has a rich history of boats – including one unique boat, Liberty the Second, which is now housed at the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society Museum, 150 N. Third St., Conneaut Lake.

This boat is not your usual speed boat. It is a 20-foot hydroplane speedboat, which was to compete in a Labor Day race in 1922 on Conneaut Lake.  At the time, it was owned by Mr. Harry E. Snavely of Pittsburgh.

However, it flipped during practice and sank. Luckily, nobody was hurt when the boat flipped.  It stayed on the bottom of the state’s largest natural lake for 63 years – until 1985 when two local divers, Brian Simpson and Bill Houghton brought it back up.

It took the pair five years to locate the boat before it was found and brought back to shore.

The boat is unique in that it featured one of only 15 V-8 prototype engines made in 1917. It was a 450-horsepower, fuel-injected engine. It had been clocked at 78 miles per hour – about twice as fast as the then America Gold Cup Winner.

After the boat was saved and negotiations complete with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to allow the boat to be restored here and managed, a fund-raising effort was soon under way.

The Keep the Liberty the Second Float fund drive raised $60,000 and the boat was restored. The hull was restored and the engine rebuilt and put in running condition. Local firms donated engine materials and provided tooling and fabrication services.

A non-profit, Liberty the Second Foundation, was formed to assume custody.

The first museum was in the old Conneaut Lake Park Fire Hall at Conneaut Lake Park.

After the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society was organized, the Liberty the Second Foundation asked if it could merge with the society to assume all the operations. Both organizations agreed and all the artifacts of that group were merged.

The museum still operated during summer months at the fire hall and then was moved to a new location – on the lake front – in 2003. The museum operated until 2008 when Conneaut Lake Park closed and the boat was moved to the museum on North Third Street, Conneaut Lake, where the Liberty the Second now is on exhibit.