The history of the business also serves as a family history.
My father, Edgar Ahlcrona, owned Tonka Bay Boat Works from 1947 through 1972 and manufactured Crona Crafts as a competing runabout to the 14-foot Tonka Craft fishing boat from about 1956. Both Minnetonka Boat Works and Tonka Bay Boat Works marketed these runabouts as the new style trend in the mid ’50s.
Boating for my father and his brothers began at a young age. They had an idea while they were in their teens that they could build a boat by floating it on oil drums—and the boat they built was launched on Lake Harriet. It’s too bad they didn’t pursue this idea; they could’ve become the first makers of a pontoon boat!
After World War II, my father and his brothers enrolled at the University of Minnesota. When Tonka Bay Boat Works came up for sale, they decided to drop their college plans and follow their boating passion.
The business grew, and Owens Cruisers and Century runabouts became the new boats for sale. The marina also became a full-service maintenance, repair, winter storage and summer dockage business. A showroom was built at the corner of Highway 7 and Vine Hill Road, and the name was changed to Tonka Bay Marine.
Cheryl Ahlcrona is the treasurer of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society. Members of the historical society share memories and insights into the lake area’s past monthly in this space.