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Photo of the ship, Minnehaha
Minnehaha, sailing in October, 1999

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Minnehaha Steamboat
A Local Legacy

How can you extend a streetcar line onto a lake? With a steamboat, of course.

The restored steamboat in the picture was originally one of a fleet of vessels that extended the streetcar lines of the Twin Cities -- Minneapolis and St. Paul -- out into Lake Minnetonka. Built in 1905 by the Twin City Rapid Transit Company to serve new communities around the lakeshore, the boats were designed to resemble streetcars. They were painted canary yellow, red, and green, the same colors as streetcars, and the seats and benches below decks also matched the streetcars.

As the automobile became the favored mode of transportation, ridership on the boats declined, and they were scuttled in 1926 in the deeper waters of the lake. Scuttling means to cut or open a hole in a ship's hull to sink the ship. Fifty-four years later, the Minnehaha was brought to the surface for restoration. And, on May 25, 1996, the Minnehaha sailed on her maiden voyage from Excelsior to Wayzata, a festive occasion that signaled her return to Lake Minnetonka.

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