The History of Fishing Museum offers Branson, Missouri a fascinating display dedicated to one of America’s favorite pastimes! A collection of more than 40,000 pieces valued at more than $5 million, the Museum features many unique items, including the first version of popular fishing items still in use today. The impressive horde includes rods, reels, boats, lures, motors, and other fishing-related items, like an early version of the first pair of sunglasses ever created, all acquired by collectors Karl and Beverly White. Collectors usually tend to look for very specialized items for their collections, like focusing on ice-fishing, or a certain brand - this holds true for collectors of everything from cars to coins, but this massive collection put together by the Whites includes everything related to antique tackle and fishing paraphernalia. You’ll see a Spike Reel from the 1730’s; made in Europe, and used by American anglers, it’s the first reel known to exist. The Museum also has a Snyder Reel from 1840, the first casting reel made in the United States by George Snyder of Paris, Kentucky. Snyder made twelve reels for family; only four are known to exist today. Acquired in 1997, White’s purchase set a world record for the most expensive fishing tackle item ever auctioned in America.
Many of the items in the History of Fishing Museum have interesting stories attached to them, particularly the Comstock Flying Helgramite lure. The first wood plug ever made, it was invented by Edward Comstock in 1883. Comstock took his great new idea to fishing supply manufacturer, Pflueger - the company copied the design to sell as their own, and Comstock promptly filed a lawsuit. The actual Comstock lure used in the court case is in White’s collection at the Museum. If you look closely at the lure on display, you’ll notice the barbs have been removed - this was done to make sure the judge in the case didn’t get hooked himself! Other interesting items on display include a Skeeter boat, the first bass boat manufactured, and the one on display is the first boat to come off that production line. The oldest patented piece in the collection is a Buel Trolling Spoon, patented in 1852, but there are many older items on display, including fishing artifacts from pre-colonial times that were used by Native Americans and Eskimos. And the Museum goes beyond fishing items; there is also an expansive collection of fish fossils and aquatic dinosaur bones - the kids will surely love these!
Additional Information/Helpful Hints:
- The History of Fishing Museum can be found at 225 North Wildwood Drive in Branson MO.
- The location is less than one block from Highway 76 - just downhill behind King’s Castle Theatre, and in front of the Grand Plaza Hotel.
- The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00AM to 6:00PM, and Sunday from 12:00PM to 6:00PM.
- Non-flash photography is permitted. (A camera flash can be damaging to antique materials on display.)
- The Museum has recently added a collection of aquatic dinosaur bones and fish fossils.
- Everything at the History of Fishing Museum is family friendly - it’s an ideal attraction for guests of all ages.
When it comes to museums around the country, few are devoted to the fun and sport of fishing - something enjoyed by all ages and walks of life - making the History of Fishing Museum one of Branson’s most unusual - and unusually entertaining - attractions!