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Twin Cities Streetcars and Streetcar Boats

Posted May 8, 2020 @ 11:21am | by Doug

~~~Tour Guide Notes ~~~

As with many American cities, enjoyable and colorful streetcars, tracks, and overhead electric wires disappeared in the 1950s when they were replaced by buses.

Fortunately, a few are still maintained and offer nostalgic rides. One is at Minneapolis’ Lake Harriet where, in the restored original station, you purchase a token to drop into the farebox.

The ride is but one mile, but the more impressive measurement is time, as in back-in-time. This particular route, which was called the Como-Harriet Line, once began at Como Zoo in Saint Paul,  through the two campuses of the University of Minnesota, then downtown Minneapolis, before continuing on to Lake Harriet, and ultimately to the village of Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka where it met up with a fleet of six streetcar BOATS of matching yellow décor and wicker seat.

These boats would then shuttle between other towns on the lake, like Mound and Wayzata, plus an amusement park on Big Island.

Lamentably, in the 1920’s, the boat part of the business was no longer viable, what with the long winter season during which they sat idle, and the emergence of automobiles. So, the six boats were brought out to the middle of the lake where they were scuttled in 1926.

But the great news! In 1980, divers found and examined them. They determined which one was still in the best shape, the “Minnehaha,” and brought it to the surface.  It was not easy, as it was stuck in the muck 80 feet below the surface.

It took until 1996 for skilled workers to restore it. Today, you can go for a ride on it! An exceptionally dramatic ride considering its history.

Photo Sources and Links :Como-Harriet and Excelsior Streetcar Lines and Steamboat Minnehaha


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