Minnesota Historical Society

Picturing Lake Minnetonka: A Postcard History

$ 34.95

The grand era of steamboats and resort hotels at this magnificent lake, once the center of the state's resort industry, told through postcards and historic photographs.

Picturing Lake Minnetonka is a fascinating and nostalgic glimpse of the rise of Minnesota's largest and most beloved summer lake resort. A chronicle of the dizzying changes the lake underwent, this richly illustrated book follows the lake from its days in the 1860s when it was still a fishing spot and secret hideaway to the 1880s when James J. Hill's grand hotels, railroads, and palace steamers dominated the lake, to the turn of the century when the Big Island Amusement Park and the Twin Cities Rapid Transit's express boats and streetcar lines pointed the way to a new era. Ogland captures the bustle and excitement of this time through daguerreotypes, cartes-de-visite, stereoviews, view cards, and the hand-tinted postcards of the day.


At the height of the postcard craze, each hotel on Lake Minnetonka, large and small, offered views of their grand architecture, their beachfront, or their packed porches and dining rooms. Summer tourists eager to show off their new-found wealth and leisure sent thousands of postcards to relatives, sweethearts, friends, and acquaintances. The views on the front of these cards tell us a great deal about what the ideal vacation looked like to turn-of-the-century visitors to the lake.


  • By: James W. Ogland
  • Format: Cloth, 144 pp., 11-1/4
  • Publisher: MHS Press
  • Product ##: 0873514025



Picturing Lake Minnetonka is a tribute to those bygone days when life was just a bit simpler, a time that may now seem distant but, in fact, was not so long ago and not so far from where we are today. These views and the brief, often tantalizing, messages they bear provide a window through which we can see the Lake Minnetonka of the past.


JAMES W. OGLAND grew up on Lake Minnetonka and still resides in Wayzata, Minnesota. In recent years, he has played an active role in the restoration and operation of Minnetonka's famed express steamer, the Minnehaha, and is a past Commander of the Minnetonka Power Squadron, a boating educational organization.

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