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Large Showboat Once Sailed on Utah Lake.

Two young men from Provo, Hewitt Strong and Elmer Smith, spent much of their free time hunting, fishing, swimming, and boating on Utah Lake.  They dreamed of operating a large showboat on the lake.  In 1931, they accumulated enough money to begin turning their dream into a reality.

The two men selected a flat construction site near the Provo River south of where Utah Lake State Park now stands.  They bought lumber, assembled their hand tools, and with the help of their friends, began construction of a flat bottomed boat ninety feet long and twenty-two feet wide.  The large craft could operate in water twelve or fourteen inches deep.

Twin Buick straight-eight engines propelled the boat, and a gas generator provided electricity.  The boat contained a spacious, enclosed dance floor and stage, a kitchen, and two bathrooms, which drained into the lake.  Above the dance floor stood a large, open observation deck.

The S.S. (Smith-Strong) Sho-Boat provided numerous chartered cruises.  Many of these customers ate catered dinners and enjoyed various types of entertainment on-board.  A regular Sunday cruise took customers to Bird Island near the south end of the lake.  The kitchen served hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, soft drinks, candy, and gum.

Insurance costs gradually increased through the years, and the owners worried about how much longer their craft would last.  In 1946, they beached the big craft near it’s construction site, and the long career of the Sho-Boat came to an end. 

This plaque is part of this series and is located in Fort Utah Park in Provo.