It is hard to believe that another beautiful season of steamboating has already passed into history. 2019 was the restored Minnehaha’s twenty-fourth year on Lake Minnetonka. Despite less-than-ideal weather on many weekends, ridership was good with about 8,000 passengers sailing aboard Minnehaha from late May to early October. This was only possible because of the persistent support received from the community and the dedication of our 70+ volunteers. The following is a recap of just some of the highlights from the past year.
Per usual, the first part of the year focused on Minnehaha’s winter maintenance. Every Saturday, a group of about ten volunteers met at “the barn” to work on various projects. Work this year included repairing the genset cooling system, replacing drains, repairing seats, and regular painting and wood repair. Thanks to the dedication of our winter maintenance crew, Minnehaha was ready to be launched by mid-May.
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.
Another year of Minnehaha’s distinguished career has already passed. 2017 brought us a number of hardships, but we prevailed and ended the season successfully with a total ridership of 8,800 passengers. Fun times were had and much business was taken care of, and new friends were made while others are remembered. The following is a recap of just some of the past year’s major events.
The season started in an unfortunate way. While the sale of the former Bayview property was pending, access to Minnehaha’s home dock and utility lines was limited. This led to the cancelation of cruises during Memorial Day weekend. The issue was thankfully resolved after the new owners completed the purchase, and by early June Minnehaha was able to begin operating as scheduled.
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.
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.
Time has certainly escaped us as we can now say that it is the end of yet another year and yet another sailing season on Lake Minnetonka – and what a year it has been! 2015 saw higher-than-normal ridership on board Minnehaha, as well as some very special events, media coverage, and more. The following is a summary of just some of the happenings that have transpired over the past twelve months.
The Winter Maintenance Crew worked hard finishing up various projects before Minnehaha‘s launch in May. On top of the regular repairs and inspections that are made every year, two unique projects that took place were rebuilding Minnehaha‘s telescoping smoke stack and planing her bronze propeller. The smoke stack can now be raised and lowered more easily when needed, and the planed-out propeller (originally from the Express Boat Como) reduces stress on the steam engine and allows for a smoother ride.
Bold. That was the type of year 2014 was for the Museum of Lake Minnetonka. With an overhauled timetable, national press coverage, and another Captain at the helm, it was nothing short of this. Here we will reflect on this truly spectacular year.
New Passenger Experience
It began by asking the question “How can our passengers’ experience be more historical?” We realized at that point that the Museum had to reinvent itself – no longer could we simply provide a mere boat ride. Instead we would have to provide a fully historical, educational, and legendary experience. The first order of business was to overhaul Minnehaha‘s timetable with all new and unique cruises, each of which would cover a different part of the lake and highlight different stories from Lake Minnetonka’s past. Among these new cruises included Minnetonka’s Gold Coast, Legends of Big Island, and Victorian Gems, Cottage Treasures. An additional specialty cruise called The Grand Minnetonka Voyage was added as well. Departing only once a month, this two-and-a-half hour cruise would be by far the most inclusive experience the Museum had ever offered.
We kicked off the 2013 Season with the Grand Opening of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce‘s new Welcome Center at 37 Water Street, where we now have an office to act as a “home base” for our merchandise and archives. It was a lovely evening to get acquainted with the recently renovated facility, take crazy pictures with friends both old and new, and enjoy fine refreshments amid jazz in the background. The Welcome Center is currently open from 9 to 5 every week, Monday through Friday – stop by if you haven’t yet had the chance!
Art On The Lake & Wayzata Art Experience
Two annual Lake Minnetonka traditions held at the end of June are Excelsior’s Art On The Lake and the Wayzata Art Experience. Art On the Lake has become a staple in our “Special Events” schedule over the years with half-priced cruises departing the dock every hour. But 2013 was the first year that we had ever participated in the Wayzata Art Experience, a similar festival held at the other end of the lake. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for either event as rain dampened the festivities in Excelsior and severe storms destroyed the Wayzata Art Experience. Despite all odds, however, Minnehaha steamed on and ran every cruise as planned. We even had local author and architectural historian Bette Jones Hammel narrate a special “Architectural Design” cruise out of Wayzata which showcased dozens of historic homes along Lake Minnetonka’s shoreline.