On Memorial Day we decided to play like tourists and visit one of the nearby attractions. We chose Excelsior, again, for the lake cruise on the Steamboat Minnehaha. Just 18 miles from the Nicolin Mansion, this boat is actually part of The Museum of Lake Minnetonka. And it has a fascinating history.
Thomas Lowry’s Twin City Rapid Transit (TCRT) streetcars running in 1905 carried passengers to and from Lake Minnetonka. Yet they were looking for a way to carry passengers to and from the streetcar lines running from different points around the lake. They decided on steamboats, made to resemble the streetcars themselves. These “streetcar boats” had the same paint colors, the same cane seats, and where named for their trolley system destinations. A fleet of six carried residents from one point on the lake to another to catch their streetcar to work, said to be as fast as trains, with the added pleasure of a lake cruise.
But by the 1920’s the automobile was a more popular mode of transportation, allowing residents to get to their destination on their own schedule. And the “streetcar boats” met a dismal fate. The Steamboat Minnehaha, along with two other boats, where filled with ruins from the demolished Big Island Amusement Park, pumped full of water and scuttled – sunk to the bottom of Lake Minnetonka.
The Minnehaha stayed there, sinking into the mud, until discovered by a diver in 1979. Raised and faithfully restored, in 1996 the Minnehaha was finally providing residents and tourists the pleasure of a lake cruise. And we totally enjoyed the pleasure of our cruise.
Seriously, check it out and take a cruise if you get a chance.