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. 

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...

June 20, 2017

Dubbed ‘The Year of Triumph[1],’ 1893 was a banner year for MBC, one of unexpected and sustained victory.

By the time the 1893 Minnesota and Winnipeg Association Regatta rolled around, the Men of MBC were well into their fourth year of training under former professional oarsman, John A. Kennedy. Kennedy had a reputation for coaching his athletes’ physical form while, at the same time, instilling a strong sense of courage and determination. He was finally beginning to see results. By mid-summer, Kennedy’s boys were in top form, trained to consistently perform at potential, and keen to compete.

The 8th annual Minnesota and Winnipeg Association Regatta was held in late July in front of the Hotel Lafayette at Lake Minnetonka. The shore was teaming with fans; interest in rowing and in this particular regatta had been building for years. To meet demand, the Great Northern scheduled five commuter trains from the Twin Cities to Minnetonka. attaching extra cars to handle overflow. Even so,...

June 9, 2017

It took over twenty years for the men of the Minnesota Boat Club (MBC) to get around to buying an eight, and it was Winnipeg’s idea.

It all started with a single. The first time St. Paul set eyes on a rowing shell it focused on John W. L. Corning’s delicate paper boat. John Corning was the vector that infected the city of St. Paul with a love of rowing, an affliction that slowly spread throughout the state, eventually becoming endemic. When Corning relocated to St. Paul from New York in 1868, he shipped his new rowing shell by the safest, if not the most direct, route. He sent it down the Atlantic Coast to New Orleans and then by barge up the Mississippi River. When he was reunited with his boat in St. Paul, a crowd gathered on the Wabasha Street Bridge, skeptical, to see if he would stay afloat. When he did, everyone was delighted. Corning’s fragile boat provided a stark contrast to the rough and tumble frontier backdrop of St. Paul and the working hustle of the Mississippi River...

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Rowing in Minnesota

History and Photography

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