Category Archives: Year In Review

2016: Year In Review

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

2015: Year In Review

SunriseDear Minnehaha Supporters:

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.

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2014: Year In Review

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.

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2013: Year In Review

37 Water Street

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.

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