What’s the Status?

Q:  Why isn’t Minnehaha running?

A:  Minnehaha has lost access to the launch site where she was launched and hauled out of the water each spring and fall. No other existing launch site on Lake Minnetonka can accommodate Minnehaha due to her size and draft. Minnehaha is currently stuck in drydock and cannot operate until she regains the ability to launch on the lake.

Q:  Why did Minnehaha lose access to her launch site?

A:  For years, the property’s owner graciously allowed Minnehaha to use their launch site. This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement and by 2019 it had become apparent that it was time for the affected parties to resolve this once and for all. Despite losing access to the site, we are grateful for the 25 years of access we were granted.

Q:  Why not just buy the launch site?

A:  Ultimately, it may become necessary to purchase a property with lakeshore and build our own ramp and winter home for the boat. As a nonprofit organization, we are prepared to raise funds for such a project. However, no property on Lake Minnetonka meeting Minnehaha’s unique requirements is currently available. We welcome any opportunity to work with public or private partners to secure a site for Minnehaha’s new launch ramp and winter home.

Q:  Why can’t one of the lake’s marinas launch and haul-out Minnehaha?

A:  Unfortunately, no other marinas on Lake Minnetonka currently have a ramp that can accommodate Minnehaha’s unique launch requirements.

Q:  Why can’t Minnehaha just use a public boat ramp to launch?

A:  Most public boat ramps are customized for much smaller boats. Generally, most pleasure boats only draw 2-3 feet of water and require a ramp of 35-50 feet in length. Since Minnehaha is 70 feet long, her bow would still be on shore if we used a public ramp.

Q:  Why not keep Minnehaha in the water through the winter and use bubblers to keep the ice away?

A:  Minnehaha’s wooden hull and machinery would be at jeopardy if left in the lake to freeze through the winter. She must be stored in drydock during the winter.

Q:  What requirements are needed in a new ramp to launch Minnehaha?

A:  Minnehaha needs a ramp that extends 135-150 feet out from the shoreline with a gentle slope of 10 degrees or less. At 70 feet in length and with a draft of 7.5 feet (when on her trailer), Minnehaha must be pushed a long way into the water before she can float free from her trailer. 

Q:  There are other ‘big’ boats on Lake Minnetonka – why is launching Minnehaha so much more challenging?

A:  Modern boat design has evolved, in part, to make launching and hauling-out easier than in the old days. The lake’s big charter boats are flat-bottomed vessels that only draw a few feet as compared to Minnehaha’s nearly 6 feet.

Q:  How did they launch and haul-out the streetcar boats in the old days?

A:  Back in 1906 when the streetcar boats were first launched on Lake Minnetonka, lakeshore property was available and relatively affordable. The Twin City Rapid Transit Company had ample property along the lake in Excelsior. Where Maynard’s Restaurant stands today, they simply ran a rail track right into the lake and had a service engine launch and haul-out the boats using a cradle on wheelsets.

Q:  Is Minnehaha accessible to tour even though she is not in the water?

A:  Unfortunately, she is not. Minnehaha is currently located in a heated storage facility with volunteers performing maintenance work in preparation for her return to the lake. Regrettably, the storage structure is first and foremost a work zone – it is not set up for public tours.

Q:  Why is operating The Streetcar Steamboat Minnehaha as a living museum so important? Why not put her permanently on display near the lake?

A:  Nowhere else in Minnesota can the public go to experience the sensation of a living, breathing authentic steamboat. Minnehaha’s operation as a living museum allows people of all ages to take their turn steering the boat, watching the pistons of her triple-expansion steam engine churn and hearing the blast of her steam whistle all while learning about the history of the Lake Minnetonka area. The story of Minnehaha’s creation, demise, resurrection, and restoration is so unique, her story serves to connect us to our past and inspire us all.

Q:  What happened to the Museum of Lake Minnetonka?

A:  The MLM consolidated on October 1, 2023, with the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society, Wayzata Historical Society, and Westonka Historical Society to form the Lake Minnetonka Historical Society! This new 501(c)(3) nonprofit, member-based organization is responsible for operating and preserving the streetcar steamboat Minnehaha.

Q:  What can I do to help solve Minnehaha’s lake access problem?

A:  Lots of things! Spread the news about her situation, and how important it is that the lake’s most important historical artifact be returned to active service for all to experience. Write or email your local city council/city staff and remind them as well. For a nominal annual fee, you can sign up for membership which will help us preserve Minnehaha while we work to get her back in the water. And of course, we gratefully welcome any donation, big or small. Thank you for asking!

Q:  Who can I contact to urge they work to resolve this situation?

A:  Anyone who will listen! Friends, neighbors, relatives – the more who know the better able we’ll be to rally the community to find a solution. Be sure to reach out to your local city council/city staff and urge them to roll up their sleeves. 

Q:  Where can I go to become a member?

A:  Membership may be obtained online. We greatly appreciate your support!

Q:  Is it possible to give a membership to someone else?

A:  Absolutely – great idea!

Q:  Where can I make a donation? 

A:  Donations may be made online. We greatly appreciate any amount of support!

Q:  Are donations tax deductible?

A:  The Lake Minnetonka Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations, per IRS regulations, are tax deductible less the value of any goods or services received in return.