Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday Night Steam

 Hubby and I spent a few days in Lake George, NY :

The Minne-Ha-Ha is a sternwheel steamboat on Lake George, New York. It is owned and operated by the Lake George Steamboat Company.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Lake George Steamboat Company owned and operated two ships on Lake George. They were the Ticonderoga (II), a retired navy ship from World War 2, and the Mohican (II), a dieselized steamer who was built by the Steamboat Company in 1907-1908. During the 1960s, these two ships would make daily trips on the lake. The Ticonderoga would make trips up and down the lake, while the Mohican would make two trips into Paradise Bay.In 1968, with the increasing volume of tourists to Lake George Village, the primary docking point of the Lake George Steamboats, requests for hour-long cruises became more frequent. It became evident that a third boat was needed to satisfy the people who did not have time for the longer cruises provided by the "Mo" and "Ti". Wilbur Dow, the company's owner at the time, wanted to make the boat itself an attraction and that it should be powered by steam. A sidewheeler was originally considered to keep with the tradition of the older steamboats on the lake, but the ship, at an estimated 100-foot design, would have appeared to be too wide and short. It was then decided to construct a sternwheel steamboat.

The ship was designed by H.M. Tiedemann Company of New York City. The construction started on October 2, 1968, at the Steamboat Company's shipyard in Baldwin, which is located near Ticonderoga, New York, on the other side of Lake George. The hull of the new ship was launched on December 6, 1968, and it was towed by the Mohican to the Steel Pier, her future dock, in Lake George Village. The building of the boat was then continued there, and completed over the winter at a cost of $270,000. The new boat was 103 feet long, had a 30-foot beam, and a draft of 3.5 feet. She had a displacement of 200 tons and could go up to 7 miles per hour. Wilbur Dow's wife, Ruth, struck the champagne bottle against the boat on July 30, 1969, and the ship was christened Minne-Ha-Ha, meaning "laughing waters". She is the second boat by the Lake George Steamboat Company to have this name, sharing it with a sidewheeler that served from 1857 to 1878.

Starting from August 1, 1969, the "Minne" has made six daily hourly trips during the running months, and over its years a seventh hour cruise has been added, as well as a moonlight cruise on Saturday nights. She also sported a calliope that played soothing tunes after each cruise. The fact that it was not only a true steamboat, but also provided short, slow-paced cruises showered the new ship with immediate popularity.


The ship became so popular over the years that the current owner of the Steamboat Company, Bill Dow, Wilbur Dow's son, decided to modify the "Minne". Since she did not fit the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning she was not handicapped accessible, and she also had to be navigated quite carefully because of her low speed, the only option was to lengthen the vessel. On September 14, 1998, she sailed up to the drydock at Baldwin and her hull was redesigned and replaced with a well-designed and shaped hull. She was then cut into two pieces, and 34 feet of hull was added to connect these two sections. On December 9 of that year, she was put back into the lake and was towed by her sister ship, the Mohican, who towed the "Minne" back in 1968, to the steel pier. Here, her superstructure was completed, and in late May 1999, her renovation was complete.

Aside from her being lengthened and her hull being redone, she was also given a handicap access elevator to connect her first and second floors. A propeller powered by a Caterpillar Diesel engine was added in case the ship were to lose steam in the middle of the lake, and to assist the much larger "Minne" in its difficult docking process. The Minne-Ha-Ha, however, is still solely powered by her steam paddle wheel during her trip. Her signature twin split-stacks were removed and replaced by a 30-foot-tall sleek, single stack, but they are still viewable from their spot on the steel pier. She retains her steam calliope and still plays it after every cruise. A 12x20 foot skylight was also put on her top deck. She is now 137 feet long, with a beam of 30 and a draft of 3 feet and 9 inches. She has a top speed of approximately 8 mph.

21st Century

The "Minne" has continued in Lake George. In 2001, her paddle wheel was rebuilt. After the 2007 season, her skylight was removed and replaced with an elevated seating area, which provides more seats with an escalated view. In 2008, "Happy Birthday" was played on her calliope to honor the 100th birthday of her sister ship, the Mohican.
In 2013, the Steamboat Company revived an old tradition of the steamers playing their calliopes as they enter Lake George Village, as the "Minne" would do just that, in addition to when it would be played after each cruise. As of 2015, the Steam Ship Minnie-Ha-Ha II has been in service for 46 years, and serves with her two sister ships, the M/V Mohican II, and the M/V Lac du Saint Sacrement.




  1. Nice video and a great story. Did you ride on it and hear calliope? Welcome back!

    1. The last time we were up there was 10 years ago! And yes, we did take a ride on it then - it was an amazing ride! Just loved the sounds of that engine!!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Mamahen! Still haven't learned how to keep that darn camera still!

  3. I love the water and love paddle-wheelers, though I can't swim a lick.

  4. Was looking at paddle wheel cruises on the Mississippi - maybe some day! I cannot swim either Gorges - I'm not afraid of the water - I just sink like a rock! LOL!