Take a step back in time in Excelsior

A rollercoaster car from the Excelsior Amusement Park and an over 100-year-old sailboat on are display at the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society Museum

The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society (ELMHS) Museum is packed with historical artifacts from the south Lake Minnetonka area.

Their collection includes many items from the Excelsior Amusement Park, including signage and a car from the rollercoaster. A ticket window from the amusement park stands outside the museum along the Southwest Regional LRT Trail.

The Excelsior Amusement Park was located on 16-acres of land on Excelsior Bay—where Maynard’s Restaurant, Bayview Event Center/Bayside Grille and The Gables Condominiums stand today. It was open from 1925 to 1973.

Also on display at the ELMHS Museum is the renowned Onawa 24-foot sailboat, which was built in 1893 by Arthur Dyer of Excelsior. Built for Ward Burton of Chimo, the Onawa took first prize in all of the sailboat races it entered.

“The Onawa revitalized the 23-foot racing class on the east coast,” said Scott McGinnis, local historian and author of A Directory of Old Boats: Lake Minnetonka's Historic Steamboats, Sailboats and Launches.

The ELMHS Museum has a wide array of photos, trophies, yearbooks and more from Excelsior High School. Old WWII uniforms, a 1800s wedding dress and an Excelsior Fire Department uniform are also featured.

Located in the old Excelsior Depot at 305 Water Street, admission to the ELMHS Museum is free. It is open on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May through September.

On the track outside of the museum, The Minnesota Streetcar Museum offers 15-minute streetcar rides, and volunteer motormen and conductors share historical facts and other information with passengers during the trip. 

The 2011 season runs through October 27. Rides are offered on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Schedules vary according to the day and month. The streetcars are also available for charters. For more information, visit www.trolleyride.org.

The nonprofit ELMHS was founded in 1972. Its historical archives, located in the Old Excelsior Public School Building, are open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, visit www.elmhs.org.

Stephanie Schmidt Johnson July 06, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Thanks for sharing this article, Steph! I had no idea that there was a historical museum in Excelsior. The kids and I will have to take a field trip there this summer! Keep these great articles coming! :) Stephanie J.


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