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Larry Pearson, Jean Martin-Hampton and Fred Bursch at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, Martin boat motor induction gathering on September 26 in Alexandria. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)
Larry Pearson, Jean Martin-Hampton and Fred Bursch at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, Martin boat motor induction gathering on September 26 in Alexandria. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)

A sign from olden times - museum collection propelled donation

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news Alexandria, 56308

Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Sometimes things happen for a reason. This summer when Jean Martin-Hampton was visiting Ozzie Groethe in Alexandria, she saw a sign - hanging at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum.

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Jean and her husband Kent Hampton, from Brooklyn Park, were touring the museum when she spied something that brought back childhood memories, a Martin Outboard Motors sign. Jean's father, George Martin, founded Martin Motors in the 1940s.

Jean and Kent, both having a boat racing background, decided to donate one of the antique motors to the maritime museum.

"It's unique," said Bruce Olson, Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum director. "We have other motors but none like this one."

The motor donated to the museum is believed to be a 1948 model similar to one pictured in a poster from 1946 that said, "Take it from the men (and women too) who... Man a Martin."

During the induction gathering on September 26 at the museum, Jean and Kent shared the story of how Martin Outboard Motors was born.

Rumor has it that Martin was out fishing when the boat motor gave out. "I can build a motor better than this," he said.

Martin once had 20 patents in simultaneously while perfecting his design, Kent said. One feature Martin motors had that was highly sought after was the ability to change a shear pin while in the boat.

Because it was the 1940s, Martin had to wait until after the end of World War II before he could proceed with his business plan. Manufacturing began in 1946. Racing motor production started in 1948 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Jean said her father was a self-taught mechanic who used to work on racing boats with her grandfather in his basement.

"It really started from there," Jean said. "He was pretty sharp."

Martin made his last motor in 1950 before selling the company. Overall, Martin Outboard Motors was in business for 12 years.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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