Canceled in 2020, effort underway to secure future of steamboat Minnehaha

The boat has been operating on Lake Minnetonka for 24 years.
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The cancelation of the steamboat Minnehaha for the 2020 season, in what would have been its 25th birthday on Lake Minnetonka, is sparking discussion over the craft's future.

The Museum of Lake Minnetonka Board of Directors took the decision last month to cancel the 2020 sailing season for the boat, which comes after the loss of access to the only boat launch ramp on the lake that can accommodate it.

In response, the board is now embarking on an effort to secure the steamboat's future by finding a new home and launch for the craft onto the west metro lake.

"The launch requirements for Minnehaha given its length, weight, and the fact that it’s wood, which requires up to 24 hours to stabilize once launched, make it arguably the most challenging boat on Lake Minnetonka to launch," said Jeff Schott, the Museum of Lake Minnetonka president, in a blog post last month.

'There is only one boat ramp on the lake that meets our launch requirements and we’ve been fortunate to have use of that ramp for the past 24 years. The property is being sold and the launch site will not be available in 2020 and beyond. 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."

The museum's board however plans to take advantage of the the off year to raise the money it needs to ensure the steamboat can return to the lake for years to come.

It is soliciting donations through its website here, and work is underway to find alternative launch sites.

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The summer break will also allow the museum to carry out long-required maintenance on the boat to ensure it's in the best condition possible to return in 2021.

The museum notes that it's impractical to buy a site specifically for the steamboat's use for only a handful of weeks of the year, and instead wants to secure a partnership "with a public entity that can accommodate a home for Minnehaha on publicly-owned property where it is free from property taxes, et cetera.

Excelsior City Council is set to hear some options for the steamboat's future at a meeting this month, per KSTP. 

"We have been and continue to be in discussion with a number of communities on the lake and have identified multiple locations that initially appear to be viable solutions," board member Tom McCarthy said.

"We are moving quickly to assess each option, with the goal of identifying the permanent home site by the end of this summer. At that point, site development will begin along with a fundraising campaign for the new facility. "

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