How much could a 90-horsepower outboard , the Merc 900, “pull” in the 1950s? Even an elephant! And not just any elephant, but a real star like Queenie, a female Asian elephant born in captivity in Thailand in 1952. Her talent in water skiing brought her fame, and in the previous century she became the world’s only water skiing elephant.
Mercury and Queenie “worked” together in 1958 for a commercial that would surely go viral today. The young pachyderm appeared on water skis in newspaper and magazine advertisements for Mercury Outboard Motors. Queenie was not the world’s first water skiing elephant. The first was in fact Sunshine Sally, withdrawn from the scene when Queenie made her water debut.
80 years ago Mercury Marine was born
2019 officially began the 80th year of Mercury Marine, the American giant in marine propulsion for powerboats based in Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin, USA. The founder of the brand, Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer was born in 1906 in America in Mequon, Wisconsin. The history of
began in January 22, 1939, when Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer purchased the Cedarburg Manufactoring Company, which specialized in engine production and was located on the broken bank, giving it the name Kiekhaefer Marine. Kiekhaefer had a good idea of what Mercury could become, putting product innovation and technology in the foundation. Carl Kiekhaefer resigned as president of Kiekhaefer Mercury in 1969 and the name was changed to Mercury Marine.
Queenie, the elephant who loved water skiing
There was a scary moment in June 1959, when they were in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at a celebration. Waves from a passing tugboat knocked Queenie off her skis. Bill Green, who had been skiing with her, held his snorkel above the water for her to breathe until a crane was located that could lift her from the river. About this time the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had received a number of phone calls protesting the risk Queenie was exposed to when water skiing on the Allegheny River. But a female skier who had been by his side for six years disagreed.