Miss America

The first “Miss America” (1920) was a wooden boat built by Garfield Wood.  It was powered by two aircraft engines and set a world record of 74.8 mph.  Wood built nine more “Miss America” boats and raised the record to 124.8 mph.

The “Miss Americas” we are most familiar with are the winners of the Miss America pageant first held in September 1921.  The pageant began as a marketing plan by the Businessmen’s League of Atlantic City to keep tourists on the boardwalk after Labor Day. There were five days of festivities including tennis tournaments, parades, concerts, a fancy dress ball and seven different bathing divisions (children, men, and comic costumes). Everyone in town was dressed in bathing suits including firemen and policemen.

Garfield Wood’s first “Miss America” 1920.

Miss America 1 boat 2

 boat 3

The first “Miss America Pageant” winner Margaret Gorman.

girl 1

girl 2

Garfield Wood invented the hydraulic lift for unloading coal from railcars and was the founder of Garwood Industries. His first high-speed boat was purchased from another Detroit native named Chris Smith.  Garfield built boats using the name GarWood.  Wood and Smith worked together for awhile but later separated.  Chris Smith went on to found the ChrisCraft Company which also produced inboard recreational boats.  Both companies, (ChrisCraft and GarWood) created some of the most sought after classic boats in the world.

Margaret Gorman was sixteen when she won the Miss America title.  She still holds the record for being the youngest winner and for being the smallest 5’1” 108 pounds.  She had a long happy marriage.  Margaret Gorman-Cahill died in 1995 at age ninety.

An inboard similar to the ChrisCraft and Garwood boats is fictitiously used in the novel Midnight Run 1932.

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