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Country star Alan Jackson donates 1955 Flat Top to Antique Boat Museum

Times Staff Writer

CLAYTON — The visit country star Alan Jackson made in 2009 to the Antique Boat Museum must have pulled on his heartstrings. He has donated a 1955, 29-foot Chris-Craft semi-enclosed boat to the museum's collection.

The boat, Flat Top, named after the type of steel-string guitar commonly used by Mr. Jackson, is one of 36 of the model ever built by Chris-Craft. Flat Top is the only one of its kind that has been restored to original condition.

“The museum is grateful for Mr. Jackson's gift of this remarkable boat,” museum watercraft curator Emmett Smith said. “Boating and country music are both important parts of the American lifestyle, and Mr. Jackson is clearly someone who loves the history of both.”

Flat Top was used and stored on Lake Chautauqua in Western New York by its original owner. In 2002, Mr. Jackson purchased the boat in poor condition and transported it to Tennessee to undergo extensive restoration work at Hickman Boat Works. Under the craftsmanship of Travis Hickman, Flat Top was revived through a nearly three-year restoration project.

A museum official said Flat Top features pristine woodwork and artistry, retains its original look and is considered to be boat-show quality. The six-cylinder boat with a maximum speed of 35 mph is made of mahogany, with white oak framing and decking. It has an oak keel.

Michael J. Folsom, the museum's director of marketing and communications, said the boat holds a significant monetary value, but that figure is confidential.

“However, once a piece becomes a part of our collection, we recognize it as priceless,” he said.

Mr. Jackson has been a longtime wooden boat enthusiast and has a good relationship with the Antique Boat Museum. In 2009, he made a trip to Clayton for the museum's annual antique boat show and auction, through ties with local boat broker Peter Mellon of Antique Boat America, which has listed a number of Mr. Jackson's boats for sale over the years.

In 2009, Mr. Jackson provided five antique boats to be auctioned. During his time in the Thousand Islands region that year, he also cruised with friends aboard his yacht Neon Rainbow, which was docked at the museum.

Flat Top arrived in Clayton last weekend and will remain in storage through the winter. The boat is expected to be available for viewing “in some form” during the museum's 2014 season. Details and information will be available before the museum's May 2 reopening.

Mr. Jackson is one of the few top country artists who write most of their own material. Among his hits are “Chattahoochee,” “Livin' on Love,” “Murder on Music Row,” “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” “Little Bitty,” “Drive,” “Remember When” and “Where I Come From.”

He performed in Watertown in 2010 as part of the DPAO/Toyota Summer Concert Series. His latest record is “The Bluegrass Album.”

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