LAKE HAVASU CITY – The Lake Havasu Museum is giving the community the opportunity to discover some real life pioneers. 

Miller’s Folly is the name of a 60-foot-long double-decker paddlewheel boat designed and built by Simon (Sy) Miller. During the 1960s and 1970s, Miller’s Folly was the ideal party boat for many Havasu families. 

Originally from North Dakota, Miller was born in 1920.  After retuning home from the military at the age of nineteen, Miller married Estelle Hickey.  

By 1960, the Miller family moved to Salton Sea in Desert Shores, Calif., along with their two children, Michael and Victoria. The  area was well known for fishing, water skiing, and off roading.  Miller worked as a dump truck driver for a land division project named Salton City. It was in Desert Shores where Miller built his first pontoon boat.  

(from left to right) Artists Virgil Venditto & Jay Combs, Mayor Cal Sheehy, Earlene DeLaura, Miller family friend Carol Schulte.

Miller with his friends also built buggies using spare parts and discarded materials from old cars. The creation of the buggies was something that Miller and his friends continued until the Millers moved to Lake Havasu in1964. 

Miller worked as an inspector for Tri-County Engineering while his wife was a homemaker and hosted many social functions.  

Over the next few years, the family soon became well known for their parties. During one of their many social events, the idea for a construction of a party boat was discussed. In the summer of 1968, Miller along with his son and close friends, began to develop a plan for Miller’s Folly.

The boat would be built with donated materials and spare parts. Funding for the boat project was raised through Miller family gambling and card game parties. It only took 53 days to complete Miller’s Folly.  

By the following month, the boat was ready for launching. Although there were doubts about whether or not it would actually float, magically, it did, and several families in Lake Havasu attended parties hosted by the Miller family in the summers following. Later, a diving board would even be added. 

Thanks to the McCulloch family, home of the boat was a private dock located at Site 6. 

In October of 1971, Lake Havasu City gave Miller’s Folly a London Bridge dedication ceremony. The boat became an active participant of London Bridge Days. By 1973, Miller and his wife moved to Colorado and Miller sold the boat to a close friend for $1.  

Havasu families were still able to enjoy the famous get togethers, but in 1978, Miller’s Folly lost their Site 6 location and became a victim of destruction. Fast forward to 1996, divers found a paddle wheeler in the lake. The discovery soon become the subject of mystery, myths, and urban legend through local media speculations. 

Located at Skiers Cove, Miller’s Folly today is one of the most popular dive sites in Lake Havasu. In prior year before the findings of the “sunken treasure,”

Miller moved in with friends Richard and Earlene DeLaura in Tempe, Ariz. On May 5, 2020, Sy Miller passed away at the age of 99 leaving Lake Havasu City a lasting legacy. 

On Thursday, October 19, The Lake Havasu History Museum unveiled Havasu’s Sunken Treasure, the Story of Miller’s Folly. 

Artist and close friend of the Miller family Jay Combs designed a model boat for the exhibit along with his friend Virgil Venditto. The model is the exact replica of the original Miller’s Folly.  Many current pioneers of Lake Havasu were in attendance as well as members of the Miller family. 

Mayor Cal Sheehy made an appearance that evening to welcome this historic legacy to the community. 

Havasu’s Sunken Treasure exhibit will be open for public viewing until February 2024. For more information please visit Lake Havasu Museum of History 

Phaedra Veronique