Safe at Sea: Midwest waters
(Editor’s Note: This is part IV of a four-part series about U.S. land destinations focusing on maritime history. For the previously published segments, visit online at www.captivasanibel.com.)
For much of America, the summer season results in travel to visit family, friends and places. For members of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva, most of us enjoy some degree of summer wanderlust as well, and we have dwelled on a few points of interest that include museums related to maritime history.
Members with roots in the upper Midwest may well recall childhood memories fishing or boating the inland lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Family resorts line the shores of most of the lakes, and the resorts would usually include, with each cabin rental, a wood cedar strip boat equipped with a five horsepower Johnson or Evinrude outboard motor. Most folks in the Midwest can recall Larson, Shell Lake and Alexandria Boat Works as well-known other boat builders. However, historical records show there were more than 200 boat builders producing boats in Minnesota and Wisconsin in those earlier days, mostly for the growing resort trade.
One of the museums of note depicting these marvelous times is the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. The story of resort life and families who set out for summer vacation at a favorite resort are a piece of the story in the museum. In time, the commerce that developed turned into the growth of cabin and housing lake-shore development, as well as industrial growth. The early agricultural and lumber economy with the strong work ethic of Midwesterners metamorphosed into a variety of industrial productivity. The museum’s gardens and facility provide an attractive civic venue for weddings and evening musical events under the stars and near the shore of adjacent Lakes Carlos and Le Homme Dieu.
Nearby to Legend of the Lakes, visitors will find the Kensington Runestone Museum. Many years ago, a farmer found in his field a tablet-like stone carved with an early Viking story of a band of explorers, whose alleged landing on the shores of a new land took place in the range of the year 1360. The controversial stone, because it seemingly preceded the Columbus discovery, caused quite a stir as to its legitimacy. Whether real or not, it is on display along with a fine replica Viking Ship and excellent displays of early settler life in rural Minnesota. Tourists will find, as well, the details of the discovery of the 200-pound inscribed slab of stone in Olaf Ohman’s farm field in 1898.
Bob Eidsvold is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or Commander@SanibelCaptivaSPS.org or visit online at sancapboating.club.