Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

A Need for Speed: Evelyn Morse Skinner Raced Lake Tahoe

By  0 Comments

Summer vacations are a cherished American tradition, and for many in California and in San Joaquin County, it’s a time of the year for families and friends to go boating on the many waterways and lakes that bless our region. For the entirety of San Joaquin County’s history, folks have recreated with leisurely rides on the water. One of San Joaquin County’s most famous boaters was a hard-charging lady of renown, Evelyn Skinner.

Evelyn Morse Skinner was born On November 3, 1888, in Stockton, California, to parents E.E. and Florence Morse. She married J. Carroll Skinner in 1918, and together they were a highly regarded couple in Stockton society. Evelyn was an outgoing person. As a teenager she had been a star on Stockton Y.M.C.A. women’s basketball team, and as an adult she became famous across California for her exploits in a favored pastime: boat racing.

In 1925 her parents purchased a Stephens Brothers “26” model boat, modeled after the “spud” boats used by Delta potato farmers such as George Shima. The Morse boat was named the Florence M II. Made of teak, with two cockpits, the Morse and Skinner families would take the boat to Lake Tahoe every summer, where Evelyn would enter into races hosted by the Tahoe Powerboat Club, now the Tahoe Yacht Club, typically at their July 4 event, Bang and Go Back.

Evelyn was a star, winning over a dozen trophies in a 30-year time frame, including first place trophies in 1927, 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1942. After the 1927 race, the Oakland Tribune remarked that she “finished 300 yards ahead of her nearest competitor.” Evelyn was so competitive, in fact, that she had her original Scripps F6 engine replaced with a Chrysler Crown engine in the early 1940s, so as to continue staying formidable in competition against newer boats. The new engine had 8 cylinders and required modifications to the fuel tank.

Evelyn Morse raced well into her 60s, remaining a local celebrity in boating circles. She passed away in 1964, just weeks after her husband. Interested in learning more about this region’s history of pleasure boating, or about the Morse/Skinner family? The original Florence M II boat can be viewed at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum, along with its towing car, Kerosene Kate.

Visit today for more information!

Story and Holt Tractor photos courtesy of the San Joaquin Historical Museum