Image (most likely Minnesota and Western Canada Assn. Regatta - 1909) from a collection of Upper Mississippi Photos. Gift from Mr. N. P. Langford Jr. to the Minnesota Historical Society 1944. 

July 10, 2017

To say that Minnesota has a strong outdoor recreational culture that revolves around its lakes is probably stating the obvious. Known as the 'Land of Lakes,' Minnesota boasts well over 10,000, and many offer ideal conditions for rowing. Yet, despite the overabundance of available 'still water,' the state's first rowers chose the mighty Mississippi River for the site of their club. The Minnesota Boat Club (MBC), the oldest rowing and athletic club in the state, remains where it has always been - on Raspberry Island - and its members continue to negotiate the unpredictable currents and river traffic as they always have (some believe this makes them stronger, better prepared for any situation they might encounter on a race course).

As the sport of rowing was establishing a foothold in Minnesota in the 1870s and 1880s, so too were the local railroad lines and resorts. Being a popular spectator sport, regattas drew people out...

June 30, 2017

In early 1874, the men of the Minnesota Boat Club finally abandoned the floating boathouse that they had moored to the foot of the Robert Street Bridge and moved into a new boathouse on Raspberry Island[1], an exceptional location with many advantages. Raspberry Island was convenient to downtown St. Paul, accessible via a short walk over the Wabasha Street Bridge. It was undeveloped and natural, with plenty of mature shade trees, offering an escape from the dust and commotion of the city. It was seen as an oasis, one that could be further transformed into something magical, which it frequently would be in the years to come, for celebrations and exclusive moonlit parties.

By 1874, MBC was positioned to be a highly competitive rowing club. Its active membership had almost quadrupled since its founding, it had 18 boats in its inventory[2], and the men were rowing and training out of a new boathouse. Everything under its control was at potential...

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Rowing in Minnesota

History and Photography

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