Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum – Part 1
Minnesota’s Lake History Comes Alive at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum.
So, if you have been following Woody Boater for the last few weeks, you know that we had a heck of a time leaving Minnesota after attending the Warner Collection Auction in Winsted. First we stopped in for a tour of the Mikkelson Collection Antique & Classic Boat Museum in Willmar. Then, after catching our breath from the Mikkelson Museum tour, we traveled an hour down the road to Alexandria to visit the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum.
The museum was closed for the season but thankfully Bruce Olson, a Director at the museum, graciously offered to meet Woody Boater for a private tour. This is much more than a boating museum, it’s best described in their brochure as a “Celebration of Minnestota’s love affair with our lakes!” From the moment you first enter the magnificent 20,000 square foot facility, you are surrounded by historical exhibits, documentation, archive images and all things relating to the Minnesota Lakes Region.
Resort & Grand Hotel History, Minnesota Boat Builders, History of Chris-Craft & Larson Boat Works, Antique Launches, Minnesouri Angling Club Exhibit, Classic Fiberglass Boats, Fishing Gallery & Kids Corner. A visit to the MLMM has something of interest for everyone.
From the early days on historic Lake Minnetonka when steamships were used as a means of public transportation. As the exhibit describes, Transportation was changing in early 1900’s, both public and private. People were moving to the cities, and they were also moving to Lake Minnetonka. They could work in the city and live at the lake. They needed, however, reliable transportation. The Twin City Rapid Transit Company saw the need and began plans to not only bring streetcars to the lake, but to extend lake transportation by building a fleet of fast, yellow Express Boats that could quickly and reliably transport residents to all points on Lake Minnetonka.
Antique steam launches were the boats of choice for many in the early 1900’s and they are well represented at the museum, with three beautiful examples of launches on hand from the era.
In a great story by Andreas Jordahl Rhude named Alexandria Boat Works Lady of the Lakes, Andreas wrote – By 1952 Alexandria Boat Works had constructed 15,250 boats in her 67 year life-span. Twenty-one different models were being built that year. The same year a new, modern facility was constructed east of town to house the evolving company.
Planking of the wood strip boats was in western red cedar, Port Orford cedar, cypress, or redwood. Keels, ribs, and other structural components were made from white oak and sometimes mahogany.
“Kebe” is an impressive 1929 Dee Wite 16′ Outboard Runabout at the museum.
It would be fun to learn more about these little race boats if anyone out there knows the history.
This U-22 is an original Minnesota boat and has been used on the St. Croix River for the last 22 years.
Stay Tuned to Woody Boater for Part 2 of the museum tour tomorrow which featu
res an original 1931 Dodge Split Cockpit Runabout, boats from the Chris-Craft exhibit and some more beautiful Larson Boats from the Larson Exhibit.
A great report Texx as always. Love seeing these collections that in reality I will never get to see first hand. After 2 days of cold rain in the NE a very pleasant diversion.
Well, a road trip to Minnesota must include spending time in this museum on the way to or returning from the Mikkelson Collection & Museum. The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum has actually been on my list of places to see for a while.
Yet another great story, Texx.
If you'd like to see the Minnesota Lake Maritime Museum from the air, follow the line at the bottom of this comment to view a short video I shot in May of 2010.
Thanks for the articles on the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, what a beautiful d place! It's so great that the Alexandria community maintains a museum dedicated the wonderful history and beauty of wood boats. I plan to make a visit this spring!
The Waterbug was a way cool little hydro design and was used as a stunt boats at Waterski shows in the 1950’s before the Fliver took over duty. Sure wish I had the plans or the measurements would love to build one.
More on the Waterbug!
had one of these as a kid. need plans to build one. help
Are U my big brother? Did U build 2 of these boats from kits in the early 1960’s and put your Mercury KG-9 racing motor on the back of this and almost rip out the transom the very first day you took to the water? Great boyhood memories.
One more again on the Waterbug! Let me know if anyone has the plans or measurements for this awesome little boat!
Thanks for sharing this Denn. – Texx
DOES ANYONE HAVE PLANS OR MEASUREMENTS. I WOULD LOVE TO BUILD ONE.
Bill, 3/4″ marine plywood 4′ by 10’ft. width cut to 42″ wide. sponsons 10″ high and 12″ wide at the back. i don’t remember how long sponsons were but you can deduce rest of dimensions by observing pictures. the only thing u can’t see is you will need a skag (fin) on the underside center just about where you will sit and maybe one under each sponson in the back or you will be skidding all over the water with little control.
hi there to all you boat enthusiasts I have here a original water bug that I salvage out of a boat house 2 year ago stored for over 40 years I have more pictures it does have the original name plaque on it still serial #1936. I am a salvager here in Canada White-Fish falls Ontario I also did a salvage for Gar-Woods care taker a vary rare 1946 Garform boat only 2 made with the inboard tiler steering 4 cyl. Gray marine phantom 4-45 Hull #146-43 engine#d23431 all there intact restorable. For more info on these dont hesitate to get in touch Cheers
Hi there again here is the original tag for the water-bug
Hi there again here is the original tag for the Garform boat
Okay I’ve searched for the Waterbug plans and the patents over the years and no luck. You’d think they’d be out there somwhere on the internets. However, form the photos Frank posted and the measurements Rodger provided I think I just may try to draw up plans and build a Waterbug. We have a Yamato 302 from the old racing days which would be a blast! We’ll post as we go…