Classic Boats Shine at Alexandria Museum
The Land of Lakes is enamored with boats, and a museum in Alexandria reflects that devotion. The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum displays more than 40 antique classic boats, beautiful crafts dating from around 1900 to the 1960s.
Most of these old boats have been lovingly restored, their polished wood and brass gleaming. Some have been donated to the museum and many are on loan, so the displays will change from time to time. Among the manufacturers represented in the boat exhibits are Chris-Craft, Gar Wood, Larson Boat Works, Higgins and Elco. The oldest on display is a 24-foot electric launch from Andrew Carnegie's yacht, from the late 1800s.
Prior to 1940, there were dozens of small boat works across Minnesota, building boats that were sold locally; at that time, there was a lack of transportation for broader distribution. The museum tells the history of these, focusing on the Alexandria Boat Works, which built wood fishing boats, runabouts and launches.
Another exhibit at the museum highlights the grand resort hotels of the late 1800s through a display of old photos. The exterior of the museum itself was designed to mimic the appearance of the old Geneva Beach Hotel. Travelers arrived by train to stay at these large, lakeside hotels. Fishing and cool lake breezes, nature's air conditioning, were the main draws. The museum's fishing gallery includes antique lures, rods and reels, historic photographs and other memorabilia.
The Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, located at 205 Third Avenue West, is open every day from May through October.