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Boat house brought “a new era of aquatic pleasures”

Ten hours of festivities on Labor Day 1909 marked the “beginning of a new era of aquatic pleasures in Menomonie” as the new boat house was dedicated. Beginning at 2 p.m., activities included water parades, dances, band concerts and rides on the steam-powered ‘Uncle Sam.’ The White Boat House served as a center of activity on the lake for nearly 50 years.

Around 1903, the Menomonie Improvement Association, a group of civic-minded citizens, had purchased the lake bank following the closure of the Knapp, Stout and Co. Company. Schoolchildren and other volunteers cleared underbrush and fallen trees on the banks and established trails leading from Main and Crescent Streets complete with rustic bridges spanning ravines. In 1908, the local power company raised the level of the former log reservoir by three and a half feet, breathing new life into the weed and silt-choked millpond.

Postcard view of the White Boat House
Pictured here before WWII, the White Boat House featured a number of bays, a boat and canoe rental facility, a dance floor and a band stand.

Located on the lake bank below the intersection of Main and Sixth streets, the boat house featured 27 enclosed rental bays on two wings, a large area at the center for boat and canoe rentals, a small concession stand where bait and fishing supplies could be purchased, a dance pavilion flanked on four sides by a balcony, and a bandstand mounted at the peak.

By the 1950s the building was in poor condition from years of use and winter ice heaves. When Northern States Power Co. decided to raise the level of the lake in 1957, it brought the end of an era. A portion of the building was removed and taken to Wakanda Park to be used as a bandstand.

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