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Model ships to dock in Alex

Contributed photo Bob Anderson (above) of Apple Valley is donating five of his many model ships to the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum in Alexandria.

Over the last 70 years, Bob Anderson of Apple Valley has hand-carved more than 40 model ships - replicas of everything from the U.S.S. Arizona to the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Five of those handcrafted ships will soon be donated and displayed at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum in Alexandria.

Bruce Olson, director of the museum, said, "Bob has been featured many different times highlighting his lifelong hobby and the high quality work for which he is known. His work is visually interesting and might even encourage others to pursue this form of art. We are pleased to be able to display Bob's work."

The exhibit will include model-sized replicas of the following:

•S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. The bulk freighter loaded with 26 tons of taconite pellets sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The model is about 26 inches long and nearly four inches high.

•U.S.S. Arizona. This ship is most famously known for sinking during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The model is 23 inches long and approximately seven inches tall.

•U.S.S. Lexington. This is an aircraft carrier built during World War II for the United States Navy. The model is about 31 inches long and features biplane aircraft models on the flight deck.

•Battleship South Dakota. This ship escorted air craft carriers throughout the Pacific and featured a battery of nine 45-caliber guns in triple turrets. The model measures a little more than 23 inches long.

•U.S.S. Idaho. An older battleship in the U.S. Navy's fleet, used for bombardment in the Pacific. This model is one of Anderson's largest - it measures 43 inches long and features more detail.

None of the model ships were made from a kit; Anderson ordered ship plans from Naval architects and ship designers and hand-carved the models himself.

Anderson and his wife, Marjorie, are downsizing their lives and moving into an apartment and there's no space for the ships.

"I'm happy to know you want them up there," he told museum staff. "I'm sure there are people who will want to take a look at them, especially the people who served on those ships. And maybe they will create an interest for younger people to take up the hobby."

Anderson noted that his model building started when he was about 11-years-old and became interested in the armed forces, which he noted was in about 1940.

"I followed some of the events during the war in Europe, before the U.S. was involved."

Bob didn't serve on a ship, but he is a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Korean War, and he's always had a passion for model ship building.

On average, how long did it take Anderson to finish a ship?

"It's hard to say. I'd spend half an hour to half a day working on them. Many, many hours," he said. "It was always relaxing to go down to the shop and start working on something, to challenge my mind a little bit. There's no time schedule with this hobby - I could do things the way I wanted to do it."

About the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum

The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum is located at 205 3rd Avenue West in Alexandria. The museum's hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students ages 5-17, or $15 per family. Contact the museum at (320) 759-1114 or visit its website at