Karen Birch member of Blackhawk chapter

This boat was purchased new in February 1957 by Karen’s late parents, Robert and Maxine Birch, of Griggsville, IL. Her dad became a Chris-Craft dealer in 1956 and Karen has his original franchise certificate. The boat is all original and Karen has the original prop, fenders, hand spot light, ladder and water skies that her dad used. Her dad’s captain hat sits so proudly on the boat’s dash. Karen uses one of the original canvas boat covers that had never been used and was being stored in her dad’s attic. The boat spent most of its time on the Illinois River in central Illinois where Karen has great family memories. The last time the boat was in the water was in the summer of 1978 on the Mississippi river. Since then the boat had been sitting on her original cradle and boat trailer in a machine shed on the family farm. In May of 2010 the boat was transported by flatbed to McHenry, IL where it was completely restored by Fox River Valley Boat Company. The summer of 2011 was Birchwood and Karen’s first year of boating. Since then the boat has won various awards through the years at various boat shows. In September 2016 the boat was given the honor of being on the cover plus an article in a national boating magazine called “Classic Boating”. The boat was never named so Karen choose “Birchwood” in memory of her late parents. Karen’s late parents are always with her on the boat and is a constant reminder of how wonderful her parents were and the fabulous childhood they gave her. When asked about the boat Karen always says: “I made a promise to my dad that I would take care of his boat. And that’s what I intend to do”


  1. I’ve seen this boat at several Blackhawk events over the years. It is a truly beautiful boat with a remarkable amount of history behind it. Great to see such a fine piece of history being preserved so well.

  2. Gorgeous! My Dad, a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer had the same boat, with coral upholstery and now, I have CL-22-032, a 1955 model with original Gold and Black Tolex that was something of a legend (“Skunk”) on Lake George, NY for years. Mine too has just been completely refinished by Reet’s Boat Works, Mayfield, NY. I have named mine Sterling, V, in honor of my parents and my sister Sterling, whose name all of our family boats carried. Two years ago, we recreated a 1960 photo of the family aboard the boat taken by my Dad by passing in front of the same dock on Kattskill Bay with me at the wheel and my my sister at midship; I used the before and after shots as my Christmas card that year and it was a hit with our remaining famly members and contemporary friends.
    Best of luck with all those memories!

  3. I know the boat and owner Karen. First met at fox lake boat show 2012 all members were very nice to me. I joined blackhawk chapter that summer with a 1961 15ft. Glastron .miss the warm sunny days and look forward to next years boating season. Hoping no flooded rivers or high water levels on lakes. Keep your tanks full and drinks chilled. Charles rasso..Albany illinois

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