Monday, July 2, 2007

Big Island

Today we went boating out to Big Island in the middle of Lake Minnetonka to score the two geocaches out there. (Click photo to enlarge) We landed the boat at the little cove by the southernmost smiley face. We had the coordinates for the cache on the north plugged into the GPSr, so we didn't know at the time that there was a cache a mere 10 feet in front of the boat!

Never having been on Big Island before, we weren't familiar with the terrain. We bushwacked straight north, right through the woods - rather than following the path around the edge of the island. The northern geocache is hidden right where a roller coaster used to be. After we logged in at the Roller Coaster Cache, we cleverly followed the foot path around the edge of the island back to the boat. Lesson learned: when geocaching, the best route is not always the shortest! Here's a short history of the island...

In 1905 the Twin City Rapid Transit Company (TCRT), purchased 65 acres of land on Big Island.

By 1906 an amusement park in operation on Big Island. The Big Island Amusement Park was an ambitious undertaking. A 186 foot high electric beacon and water tower were near the center of the park. The view at night was spectacular. A large music casino was built and featured local bands. A large dock was built for the three ferry boats used to bring customers from the dock in Excelsior, and a long dock was available on the east end of the island for private boats. There were rides at the amusement park including a large roller coaster, the Old Mill, the Scenic Ride to Yellowstone, and the Carousel.

The Big Island Amusement Park was closed and most of the buildings and rides were dismantled by 1917. Below are photos taken from period promotional brochures.

Big Island is very different today. The island itself is a lot quieter. There's forest now, and deer. But the water's a lot rougher. That long sweeping cove on the north side of the island (see photo) is party central during the summer. Only click on the video if you want to know the truth.

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