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. 

March 1, 2018

In the spring of 1894, Schlitz Brewing of Milwaukee donated a stunning three-foot, gold-lined, silver challenge cup to the University of Wisconsin’s fledgling varsity crew to shore up support for the team and spur on a rivalry. The trophy was to be given to the winner of three consecutive races between the Badgers and a team of their choosing. At that time, the American Midwest was a collegiate rowing desert leaving Wisconsin with no choice but to engage one of the regional amateur rowing clubs. The men of the Minnesota Boat Club (MBC) were the obvious choice. The Minnesotas were still basking in the afterglow of a spectacularly victorious 1893 racing season, during which their junior and senior fours enjoyed an unmitigated winning streak earning MBC a national reputation as the fastest club in the Northwest. The Men of MBC accepted Wisconsin's challenge and agreed that the two-mile straightaway eights race would be held on June 23rd, 1894 in front of the Hotel Lafayette on Lake...

February 28, 2018

Students at the University of Wisconsin initiated their first rowing club in 1874,[1] the same year the University hired John Bascom to serve as president, and this was an unfortunate coincidence.[2] Bascom arrived in Madison with an actively unsupportive stance toward college athletics, and while he tolerated the presence of a student-run rowing club, he offered nothing in the way of resources or encouragement to the athletically-inclined students. Competition with other clubs was out of the question; Bascom harbored concerns that if he opened Wisconsin’s storied doors to outside crews the vices of betting and drinking would waft in and corrupt his upstanding student body. Bascom underscored his dislike of collegiate sports by devoting a substantial passage of his baccalaureate sermon, ‘The Seat of Sin’ to the condemnation of athletics, specifically college regattas and ball games.[3]

Bascom’s student body was well-heeled and interested in popular trends, often taking social cues...

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...

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Rowing in Minnesota

History and Photography

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