Ask any one in Bemidji about large boats and boat races on the lake, and most persons will feel instantly about the yearly dragon boat races, held off the west shore of Lake Bemidji.

But very long before Bemidji hosted its first Dragon Boat Competition in 2006, massive boats had been on the lake for well around 125 decades, ferrying travellers, providing excursions and hosting parties. Races have also been held on Lake Bemidji for at the very least a century and a quarter.

“Major boats” arrived nearly as soon as loggers and settlers arrived to the location. In the early 1900s, steamboats grew to become widespread sights on Pink Lake, Turtle River Lake, Lake Bemidji and other spot lakes. These major boats moved logs and cargo and carried travellers throughout the lakes.

In 1898, Andrew Aubolee and A. A. Kroken brought massive boats to Lake Bemidji. A Bemidji Pioneer tale on March 27, 1909, claimed, “They introduced in the to start with boats applied in this territory, utilizing teams to transportation them.” Aubolee and Kroken formed the Viking Boat Company and developed a boathouse close to the 3rd Road dock.

By 1909, they had set up a successful, reputable firm, setting up “the ideal boats that dollars can procure… and their workmanship as builders of boats is regarded through the northwest.” That calendar year, they made a second huge constructing where summer time readers could “park” their launches although they ended up in town or retail store them above winter season.

Spectators line up to watch canoe races on Lake Bemidji in 1960. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historical Society)

Spectators line up to observe canoe races on Lake Bemidji in 1960. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historical Society)

But theirs ended up not the only boats on the 6,420-acre lake. Carl Carlson, a local blacksmith, had a shipyard on “Block A” in Bemidji and introduced Girl Bemidji, a 60-foot-long, 20-foot-broad paddle-wheeled steamer, in June 1898. The Bemidji Pioneer, in an short article on June 16, 1898, reported, “The boat was constructed less than the lively supervision of John A. Burkman, who came to Bemidji from Calumet shipyard for the purpose, and who received his engineering and boat building training at Port Huron yards.”

The $1,200, 200-passenger boat had plans for two sitting rooms that “will be nicely furnished for comfort of travellers,” a dance flooring on the upper deck and a canopy prime.

Yet another paddle-wheeled steamer created in 1898 by Carlson was the Ida. For 20 many years, the Ida did triple obligation on the lake — hauling cargo, transferring logs and giving rides for up to 200 travellers at a time.

An additional identify in early Lake Bemidji boats was Captain W. B. MacLachlan, who operated many boats around the yrs, which includes the North Star, which transported passengers amongst different resorts and beach locations on the lake like Chatauqua Beach, Birchmont, Oakwood, Pine Beach front, Lake Aspect, Highland Park, Lavinia and some others.

MacLachlan also captained the Shadow, owned by Captain Sutton of Scarrot & Sutton. The Shadow, which was on the lake by 1900, could be chartered for conferences, picnics and get-togethers for companies. On Could 24, 1900, The Bemidji Pioneer noted that “Bemidji Lodge No. 119 and I.O.O.F. (Unbiased Get of Odd Fellows) experienced chartered (the Shadow) for their 1st once-a-year outing on Lake Bemidji… The very first boatload of ‘Three-Linkers,’ their family members and buddies remaining the dock for a 6-mile voyage to T. B. Walker’s ‘Rocky Point’ at the northern finish of the lake.”

In the spring of 1912, Captain W. B. MacLachlan launched the City of Bemidji on Lake Bemidji. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historical Society)

In the spring of 1912, Captain W. B. MacLachlan introduced the Metropolis of Bemidji on Lake Bemidji. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historic Society)

The get together consisted of 32 men and women, but the boat experienced a 100-particular person potential with seating for 50. The boat was driven by a woodburning engine, and for the duration of the crossing, sparks from the engine established hearth to an umbrella getting utilized by a girl in a rowboat powering the Shadow. The Bemidji Pioneer explained the umbrella incident as “the only excitement” of the journey.

In 1901, a tragedy happened on the Shadow when fireworks on board for a Syttende Mai celebration were accidentally ignited and various people were being burned four died, possibly from burns or by drowning.

The Shadow provided excursions all over the lake every single Sunday afternoon for 25 cents. Moonlight excursions were also available, and the Aged Settlers Firm, established in 1901, took a moonlight cruise on the Shadow on August 21, 1902.

In the spring of 1912, MacLachlan launched the Town of Bemidji, which the Bemidji Everyday Pioneer explained as “one of the ideal geared up passenger boats on the northern lakes.” In June, Mrs. MacLachlan and Mrs. F. H. Lambert entertained more than 50 attendees on the boat. They embellished it in pink, white and blue, and the occasion enjoyed a trip to the Warfield ability dam, exactly where “a dainty lunch was served” in advance of the Town of Bemidji returned to the 3rd Avenue dock. It could have been the kick-off for the 22-mile excursions that a lot of guests took that summer for just 50 cents for every man or woman.

The Bemidji Belle launched on Lake Bemidji for the first time in 1953. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historical Society)

The Bemidji Belle released on Lake Bemidji for the to start with time in 1953. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historic Society)

Many other massive boats toured or worked on Lake Bemidji in excess of the a long time, such as Don Holmes’ Dixie Bell and his even additional extravagant party boat, the Bemidji Belle, which released in 1952 and 1953, respectively. Amongst the a lot of visitors of note on the Bemidji Belle ended up the Minnesota Vikings, who liked chartering the boat while they were being in Bemidji for spring coaching in the early 1960s.

Numerous yrs right after the “Belles” were being retired, a new Bemidji Belle was launched in 1987 but was retired soon after just two a long time.

Races on the lake

In addition to big boats on the lake, races on the lake have been held pretty much from Bemidji’s start. Canoe races as early as 1908 drew large crowds of spectators. In 1915, an night canoe race was held, beginning at Warfield’s landing and ending at the metropolis dock.

Also in 1915, a a lot more one of a kind event was held on the lake — a tub race for boys below age 16, which lined a shorter length — from the Viking Boat House to the city dock. Racers equipped their own tubs and energy — no motors ended up permitted.

In 1940, a large party was released on Lake Bemidji: the 10-working day Aquatennial canoe race from Bemidji to Minneapolis. Opponents invested quite a few times on the river with overnight stops at towns alongside the way. The caption on the back again of a postcard from the early 1950s reads: “The Mando-Aquatennial Canoe Derby, co-sponsored by the Minnesota and Ontario Paper Co., is held in conjunction with the Minneapolis Aquatennial, the nation’s finest summer season competition. It is now the world’s best canoe racing party and attracts leading-flight canoeists from all elements of the United States and Canada. Starting off at Bemidji, Minnesota, the class extends 450 miles down the hard, unpredictable and at any time-transforming Mississippi River to stop at Minneapolis.”

Participants prepare for the 10-day Aquatennial canoe race from Bemidji to Minneapolis. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historical Society)

Individuals prepare for the 10-working day Aquatennial canoe race from Bemidji to Minneapolis. (Contributed / Beltrami County Historical Society)

The routes and stopping details various about the several years, with just one-working day distances ranging from 20 to 87 miles. The range of groups diverse from 24 to 50, and prizes ranged from $1,200 to $13,000. In 1949, the celebration had its to start with female paddler. In 1950, the Bemidji crew of Eric Hughes and Harold Westby took third place. The once-a-year party ran for just about 25 years.

Of study course, winter’s frozen ice opened up prospects for skating, dogsled, jalopy and snowmobile races, but that is a different story for one more season.