2018: Year In Review

Photo courtesy of Mahogany Bay

Dear Minnehaha supporters:

With Lake Minnetonka currently frozen over, it is hard to believe that another beautiful season of steamboating has already come and gone. 2018 proved to be a strong year for Minnehaha as 10,500 passengers sailed aboard her between early June and mid-October. This would not have been possible without the persistent support received from the community and the dedication of our 75+ volunteers. The following is a recap of just some of the highlights from the past year.

May 5, 2018 was one of the latest ice-out dates ever recorded for Lake Minnetonka. This pushed back the start of Minnehaha’s season by a week, but the extra time was used to finish various winter maintenance projects. The annual meeting was held only a few days later on May 9. At the meeting, Jeff Schott was elected as the MLM’s new president. Mr. Schott replaces Jeff Lambert, who served as president since 2013.

Minnehaha was launched and ready to go by June. No major changes were made to the regular schedule for the 2018 season, but special events were right around the corner. As usual, Minnehaha was a part of the Excelsior Art on the Lake, Wayzata Art Experience, and Fourth of July celebrations. Later in the year, Minnehaha ran for two weekends at James J. Hill Days and Excelsior Apple Day.

Minnetonka Boat Parade
3rd Annual Lake Minnetonka Antique and Classic Boat Parade

For the fifth year in a row, the MLM partnered with the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society to host a series of “Tapping History” programs onboard Minnehaha. The series’ first program, presented by MLM captain and historian Aaron Person, focused on the history of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company’s streetcar boat system. Historian Scott McGinnis was the presenter for another program on the history of the Belle of Minnetonka and City of Saint Louis, two of the largest steamboats ever to ply the waters of Lake Minnetonka. In August, F. Todd Warner of Mahogany Bay returned for the 3rd Annual Lake Minnetonka Antique and Classic Boat Parade, which included a grand sail-by pageant at Wayzata.

While on the topic of historical affairs, the MLM continued to work through the summer on a couple of archival projects. Engineer Jeff Bipes volunteered to digitize the Museum’s collection of VHS tapes, restoring video quality in the process. While the videos are not yet accessible online (stay tuned), the MLM was happy to have some of the most significant blueprints in its collection scanned by the Minnesota Digital Library at the University of Minnesota. These blueprints, which include historic plans for the streetcar boat Excelsior, the tugboat Hercules, and the restored Minnehaha, are now accessible on the Minnesota Reflections website and can be viewed here.

Hercules Plans
Plans for the TCRT tugboat “Hercules”

On July 12, the Museum of Lake Minnetonka lost one of its dearest friends. Jim Ogland was an integral force during Minnehaha’s restoration and served as the restored vessel’s first captain during her lake trials in 1995. A dedicated Lake Minnetonka historian, he passed away peacefully at the age of 87 and will never be forgotten. MLM Vice President Jim Zimmerman spoke at his funeral. You can view his speech here.

Although we are saddened by Mr. Ogland’s passing, his legacy certainly lives on with each new volunteer that the Museum brings on. This year Minnehaha gained several new crew members: Jeff Cotter, Pete Willenbring, Carelyn Hillstrom, and Lisa Olsen were qualified as pursers this summer, and many others are in the training process. We are happy to welcome them all to the team!

Photo courtesy of James Guy

Minnehaha sailed into autumn with an enhanced Fall Colors schedule this year. Due to popular demand, two cruises were added to each week of operation. Further yet, the season was extended by one week, ending on October 7. To mark the occasion, the MLM hosted its annual volunteer appreciation party at Wayzata Brew Works early in the month. It was a pleasant way to celebrate the end of another successful season on the lake.

With Minnehaha out of the water and back in her winter maintenance barn, rehabilitation work is once again picking up pace. Projects slated to be completed between January and May, 2019, include repairing the genset cooling system, replacing drains, repairing seats, and regular painting and wood repair. This will keep us busy in the months ahead.

As always, we thank all of our members, volunteers, donors, partners, and passengers for their continued generosity and enthusiasm throughout the year. With their support we point the bow forward, steaming full speed ahead into 2019. From all of us at the MLM, Happy New Year!


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