2016: Year In Review

Morgan Chapman
Photo courtesy of Morgan Chapman

Dear Minnehaha Supporters:

2016 marked an important milestone in Minnehaha’s career and a significant achievement for the Museum of Lake Minnetonka as it was the twentieth anniversary of Minnehaha’s return to passenger service. We are very proud to say that, as of May 25, Minnehaha has now been in service longer in her second life than in her first. Furthermore, we are thrilled by the past year’s near-record ridership – approximately 11,500 – as it shows that, even after twenty years, Minnehaha and her story continue to inspire new interest and remain a beloved piece of the community. Thus, the legend continues! The following is merely a recap of the latest chapter in Minnehaha’s story.

Photo courtesy of Jim Douglas

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the restored Minnehaha’s maiden voyage, the MLM hosted a party at Excelsior Brewing Company in May for volunteers old and new. It was a joyous evening with live music, good beer and food, and mingling between the earliest of early volunteers and newest of new recruits. On the morning of May 25 – exactly twenty years to the hour since the maiden voyage – a commemorative video entitled “Salvaged Memories” was published on the Steamboat Minnehaha Facebook page. This video was shared by 450 individuals and viewed nearly 30,000 times over the course of several days. To further commemorate this moment, a beautiful tribute by Meghan Davy was published in the Lakeshore Weekly newspaper.

For the third year in a row, the MLM partnered up with the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society for three “Tapping History” charters. In June, historian Scott McGinnis spoke about the history of Tonka Bay and the Lake Park-Tonka Bay Hotel. In July, historian Paul Maravelas spoke about the Native American history of Lake Minnetonka. Finally, in August, Todd Warner of Mahogany Bay spoke about Lake Minnetonka’s antique and classic boat community while several antique and classic boats cruised in tandem with Minnehaha. Furthermore, the MLM partnered with the Wayzata Historical Society in July for a single historical charter hosted by historian Joanie Holst and Captain Aaron Person.

Wayzata HS
Photo courtesy of Dan Gustafson

Per usual, Minnehaha participated in all of the major community events in Excelsior and Wayzata this year. Excelsior Art on the Lake, the Wayzata Art Experience, James J. Hill Days, and Excelsior Apple Day were all successes with good weather and lots of good people. Minnehaha also sailed up to Wayzata for five concerts at the depot in July and August. Performers this year included Jeff Dayton, Alison Scott, and the ever-outstanding Davina and The Vagabonds.

In conjunction with Minnehaha’s twentieth anniversary season, a new Oral History Project was launched to document the history of Minnehaha’s recovery and restoration through personal interviews. This project is being led by longtime volunteers Sharon Provost and Darel Leipold. Interviews began in August, but the effort is ongoing.


The Archives Committee has been hard at work over the past several months securing a nearly $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society and creating an inventory of materials. In October the committee hired a professional archivist, Rachel Howell, as a consultant for the project. Rachel will be working closely with the committee until June 2017. The committee’s goal is to improve the organization and storage of materials so that the archives can one day be open to researchers.

While reflection on the past twenty years has been an emphasis for the MLM in 2016, Minnehaha gained several new qualified crew members this year. Minnehaha has one new Captain, Linc Deter, and four new Lead Pursers: Cameron Guthrie, Bob Hilton, Katherine Schafer, and Mike Strommen. On a sadder note, Minnehaha’s longest-serving Captain, Bruce Tuttle, retired at the end of the season. Bruce was involved during Minnehaha’s restoration and has been a Captain for nearly all of the past twenty years. We wish him well and will forever be grateful for his service.

Bruce Tuttle
Photo courtesy of Jim Douglas

After Minnehaha came out of the water in October, the MLM hosted a final party at Wayzata Brew Works to commemorate the end of her twentieth anniversary season. Wayzata Brew Works, it should be noted, stands at the same location that Minnehaha was designed and had her original parts cut. It was a joyous way to end a joyous season.

Minnehaha is currently resting in her winter maintenance barn receiving her annual TLC. Major projects for this winter include opening the boiler for its biennial inspection and replacing the aft deck membrane. Other smaller projects continue as well. Be sure to check out the Steamboat Minnehaha Flickr page for excellent maintenance photographs and more by photojournalist Jim Douglas.

Takeout Crew

As always, we deeply thank all of our members, volunteers, donors, partners, and passengers for their continued enthusiasm and generosity. It has truly been a privilege having such dedicated supporters like you over the past twenty years. We wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing the legend continue in 2017!

The Museum of Lake Minnetonka

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