History Express

by | Mar 2023

Express Boat Museum of Lake Minnetonka

Photo: Aaron Person, Minnehaha captain and the Museum of Lake Minnetonka Board of Directors

The story of the Express Boats begins in 1905 when the Twin City Rapid Transit Company (TCRT) opened a new electric streetcar route from Minneapolis to Excelsior.

To serve a growing population of summer commuters and tourists and complementing the streetcar schedules in the Lake Minnetonka area, the TCRT had Wayzata boat builder Royal Moore design six identical Express Boats. They were painted yellow with interior caned seats matching their streetcar cousins. Minnehaha was the first to be launched onto Lake Minnetonka in May 1906, followed by Como, Harriet, Hopkins, Stillwater and White Bear. For nearly two decades, the Express Boats served over 200,000 riders annually with slight dips during the influenza pandemic and WWI years.

Affordable automobiles and improved road conditions heralded the demise of the Express Boats as ridership plummeted. Service stopped at the end of the 1926 season and the Como, White Bear and Minnehaha were scuttled off Big Island. The Stillwater and Harriet were scrapped in 1927, and the Hopkins continued as an excursion boat until 1949 when she joined her sisters in their watery gravesite.

The Minnehaha was raised in 1980 and restored and returned to service in 1996, by way of an effort of over 85,000 volunteer hours and costing approximately $500,000. In October 2021, Minnehaha was placed
on the National Register of Historic Places.

Discover the complete history of the Minnehaha at steamboatminnehaha.org.


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