Category Archives: Year In Review

2017: Year In Review

Courtesy of Mike Dinndorf

Dear Minnehaha Supporters:

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.

The MLM gained several new crewmembers at the beginning of the season. Brett Byriel, who joined the MLM in 2016, was qualified as a Lead Purser by September. We congratulate Brett on his accomplishment and look forward to qualifying more crewmembers next year.

For the fourth year in a row, the MLM partnered up with the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society for three “Tapping History” programs onboard Minnehaha. These included a program by Alan Lizee about the historic sailboat Volante in June and a program by Joni Scheftel about growing up on Big Island in July. Todd Warner returned as host of the third program, the 2nd Annual Lake Minnetonka Antique and Classic Boat Parade, in August. Inspired by a similar event on Lake Muskoka in Canada, approximately fifty boats cruised in tandem with Minnehaha from Excelsior to Wayzata and back.

Per usual, Minnehaha participated in all of the community events in Excelsior and Wayzata this year. Due to unforeseen circumstances, cruises during the Wayzata Art Experience were cut short. However, Excelsior Art on the Lake, James J. Hill Days, and Excelsior Apple Day were all successful. Minnehaha also sailed up to Wayzata for four concerts in July with performances by Jeff Dayton and Davina and The Vagabonds, among others. Furthermore, Minnehaha was a part of the Wayzata Historical Society’s thirty-fifth anniversary celebration in August with two boathouse-themed cruises narrated by historian Joanie Holst.

Courtesy of Jason Jenkins (Sun Sailor)

The season ended with a bang when the MLM welcomed members of the HeritageRail Alliance onboard Minnehaha as part of their annual conference. Members came from across the United States and Canada to ride local heritage rail lines and learn about each respective organization. After riding the Excelsior streetcar line, they boarded Minnehaha – Minnesota’s only “floating streetcar” – and learned a great deal about Lake Minnetonka’s unique transportation history.

On land, MLM volunteers were busy with other efforts. Beginning late last year, work began in earnest on establishing a proper archive for the MLM. The Archives Committee hired Rachel Howell as a professional consultant for the project and worked for several months completing many important tasks. Work continues on various small projects, but the MLM is proud to have a proper archive at last.

Courtesy of the Meloche Family

On a sadder note, the MLM regretfully lost a dear friend this fall. Leo Meloche, who served as Director of the Minnehaha Restoration Project between 1990 and 1996, passed away peacefully on the morning of November 5. Without his tenacity and determination, Minnehaha would have never been restored. Thus, we are eternally grateful for his efforts and are dedicated to carry his legacy on. Rest in peace, Leo.

Despite the hardships of 2017, Minnehaha ran a successful season and is now back in her barn, safe and sound, receiving TLC from our winter maintenance crew. As always, we thank all of our members, volunteers, donors, partners, and passengers for their continued generosity and enthusiasm. With their support we point the bow forward, proudly carrying the legacy into 2018. From all of us at the MLM, Happy New Year!

Courtesy of Jeff Bipes

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.

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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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