The 2020 season for the steamboat Minnehaha is sunk.
This would have been the 25th year the hulking steamboat that sails on Lake Minnetonka. But with no place to put the wooden boat in the water, the Museum of Lake Minnetonka’s board of directors on Tuesday announced they’ve canceled the summer season.
Museum officials have been unsuccessful in their search for a new place to launch after they learned the property with the only boat ramp large enough to accommodate the 55-ton, 70-foot steamboat is being sold and won’t be available in 2020.
“The launch requirements for Minnehaha given its length, weight … make it arguably the most challenging boat on Lake Minnetonka to launch,” said Jeff Schott, president of the Museum of Lake Minnetonka, the all-volunteer nonprofit that owns and operates the boat. “Given the prohibitive logistics of modifying another ramp and transporting the boat to it, there are unfortunately no viable options to get the boat in the water this year.”
Board members say this is definitely not the end of the Minnehaha. They are looking for a permanent home and hope to identify a site by the end of the summer. The museum, in a statement posted on its website, said it could launch a fundraising campaign for a new facility at that time.
“While we are saddened to miss this season, creating a long-term permanent solution for the boat is critically important for Minnehaha’s long-term survival and viability,” said board member Tom McCarthy.
About 10,000 passengers board the bright yellow steamship each summer for history cruises from late May through early October. From 1906 to 1926, the ship was one of seven vessels that provided “fast and reliable transportation” for the residents of Lake Minnetonka going to streetcars that took them to their jobs in Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the museum’s website.
Steamboat service stopped in 1926 and three of the boats, including the Minnehaha, were sunk. The hull was pulled from the water about 70 years later and restored. Passenger service resumed in 1996.
Board members said they will use the summer to conduct long-term maintenance on the Minnehaha.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768