History of Yandt Boat Works
Ron Yandt's Uncle, Bob Yandt immigrated to the United States as a young boy from Germany in the early 1890s and ultimately settled in Minnesota with his family. Bob grew up to be a mechanically inclined man that loved to work with his hands. When Bob was about 20 he had an opportunity to move out West to work in the great saw mills of Northern Idaho and he jumped at the chance. He settled in Coeur d’Alene and became a millwright for the Potlatch Sawmill. Once he was established and had a place to work at home he began building small row boats with the cedar scraps that he brought home from the mill. Pretty soon his neighbors were taking notice of his talents and hiring him to build boats for them. It was not long before Bob was able to quit his millwright job and concentrate 100% on boat building and the Yandt Boat Works was spawned. The Yandt Boat Works built about 75 boats from the 1910s to 1967 when it built its last. In the early years the boats that Bob built were all about racing and going fast. He favored John L Hacker boat designs and would purchase these plans to build his boats. I remember Bob’s son Robert telling me one time that the most important part of a boat design is underwater. It’s were you get the performance and ride. All the “stuff” above the waterline is simply for looks. Robert and his wife Barbra would later join Bob in the boat business and eventually take it over. In the 1940s and 1950s many of the boats that the Yandts built were used as taxis to shuttle people, groceries, mail and other necessities around the lake. In later years Bob and his son built mostly simple family runabouts for customers in the Coeur d’Alene area.
When Dad (Ron Yandt) was about two his family moved off the water and moved into town a couple of blocks from the Yandt Boat Works where he was not so apt to fall in the water. He talks about standing on the docks close to Uncle Bob’s shop. He would wait for an empty seat in one of the outgoing taxis, wait for the nod from his uncle and hook a ride with him and the paying customers. It truly was the highlight of a young kid’s day to run around the lake with his uncle and see all that was going on around the lake.
This love of boats ran deep in Dad and as I grew up, lakes and boats were always an important part of my family. It seems like all of our family vacations revolved around a boat and most of the time a boat on Priest Lake. Whenever we saw a wood boat, Dad would tell us about the Yandt Boat Works, his Uncle Bob and the boats that he could remember. As I got older Dad and I would often end the discussion with a halfhearted commitment “someday we’ll have to find one of those old boats that Uncle Bob built”.
*Credit to the author: Excerpts of the above article were taken from Wes Yandt's Blog