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 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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