The largest vessel to ever ply the waters of Lake Minnetonka celebrates her 134th birthday today. The massive 300 foot steamship Belle of Minnetonka, whose capacity was for 2,500 passengers began service between Wayzata and Excelsior on this day (July 3) in 1882. The ship was owned by the Great Northern Railroad.
A nationwide depression beginning in 1893 marked the end of the Belle on Lake Minnetonka. The ship was going to be moved to the Mississippi River but there were no facilities which could pull a vessel of that size out of the water let alone move it to the river, so it was disassembled and moved in pieces. That’s the common story, but it’s only partially true.
The furnishings, paddlewheels and the equipment were stripped and the superstructure down to the hull as well.
The hull was sunk in St. Albans Bay. I’m not sure if the engines and boilers went down with the hull or not. I assume they were stripped and reused elsewhere. The ships bell however went down with the hull and were later recovered and
are part of the St. Albans Bay Yacht Club, has been displayed in front of the old Excelsior Public Library for a number of years.
Editors Note: If anyone has the exact GPS coordinates for the wreck, please contact me. Also, if there are any inaccuracies or further information on the Belle, again, please contact me.