The Cardboard Boat Museum

The Cardboard Boat Museum has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. I first heard about this unique attraction within the context of its annual Cardboard Boat Regatta. Held each August in New Richmond, OH, the Cardboard Boat Regatta features some of the finest hand-built boats you’ll see on the water — and are made entirely from everyday items like cardboard and duct tape, these boats are anything but ordinary. Past regattas have featured elaborate riverboats, dragon boats and floating swan boats, all of which passed the test of floating on the mighty Ohio.

This year marks the 27th anniversary Cardboard Boat Regatta, and there are expected to be 70+ entrants signed up to race. The regatta is free to attend, is sure to be loads of fun and happens August 3rd at 1 pm.

With that event just a week away, I wanted to visit the Cardboard Boat Museum to get a better idea of what these cardboard boats are actually like.

The Museum (the world’s only cardboard boat racing museum), is located in the heart of Downtown New Richmond, an Ohio River town east of Coney Island. The Museum is inside an old car service station, with garage doors and concrete floors and brick walls. But don’t let appearances fool you: inside these walls are some of the most exquisite works of art I’ve ever seen. 

“Cardboard boat” brings to mind cut-up cereal boxes or taped-up Amazon boxes; these boats are nothing like that. Made from large sheets of industrial-grade cardboard, the boats are seamless and well-constructed; beautifully painted; wired with electricity; and depicting intricate steamboats and giant shoes and sleek jets.

The Batboat was, of course, my kids’ favorite. It was large and sturdy, sleek and black like the Batmobile and wired to play the Batman theme song.

Other favorites were the Dragon Boat, Star Water Wars Boat and “The Floater” (a pun-tastic boat that had our whole family giggling).

The Cardboard Boat Museum is a fun and inspiring place to spend an afternoon. (Upon our return home, my kids all started designing their own boats, which will be made from old cereal boxes.) New Richmond is a bright and beautiful little river town, too, with lots of restaurants, cafés and stores to keep you busy all day. There is also a ton of history in this river town, from the underground railroad to U.S. presidents. Definitely plan a visit to the Cardboard Boat Museum this summer; and mark your calendar for the 25th anniversary Cardboat Boat Regatta on August 19th.

The Cardboard Boat Museum is located at 311 Front St., New Richmond, OH 45157. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The museum is all-volunteer run, so call 513-403-1675 before you go to ensure the it’s open!

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