TONKA BAY MARINA: A LONG AND STORIED HISTORY


Back in the day. From left to right: the Lake Park Hotel, later renamed the Tonka Bay Hotel; lake sweethearts Greg Woyland and Bernice O'Brien on Lake Minnetonka; the Tonka Bay Yacht Club (Minnetonka Boat Club).

Photo usage granted by permission from the Minnesota Historical Society. Photo credit: Sweet, Emma Fry, Sweet.

1853: A CLAIM IS MADE. Peter Gideon puts down roots in what is now known as Tonka Bay. Gideon, an apple farmer, creates an apple that can survive the harsh Minnesota climate. He calls it "The Wealthy" after his wife. Gideon's Bay still bears his name. In another quite different venture, Stephen Hull, wielding his ax, cuts a clearing in the woods which is later named "Hull's Narrows."

1879: A HOTEL IS BORN. Expensive cottages pop up along the shore, and the first of Minnetonka's great hotels is built on Echo Bay across from Big Island. The four-story Lake Park Hotel, above left, with its 200 rooms and grand dining room, charges $2.50 to $3.50 a day. Boating, fishing, dining and tennis draw crowds, who travel by railroad to the popular site.

1901: A CITY SPRINGS UP. A stable population sets up residence and incorporates as Tonka Bay. Located between the upper and lower bodies of Lake Minnetonka, Tonka Bay has more Lake Minnetonka shoreline than any other city of its size — the perfect location for a marina.

1908: A BOAT CLUB FLOURISHES. Boaters and lake lovers continue coming in droves to the Minnetonka Boat Club on Echo Bay, above right, located right next door to the newly renamed Tonka Bay Hotel. Renowned for its luxurious porches, gourmet cuisine, amateur theater and steamboat rides, the hotel sets the stage for Tonka Bay Marina.

Details are a bit sketchy, but somewhere around the late 1920s or early 1930s the Minnetonka Boat Club changes ownership and Tonka Bay Marina develops. Built on the site of the historic Tonka Bay Hotel, the marina becomes the premier location for serious boating on Lake Minnetonka.

1974: THE IDEA FOR A YACHT CLUB IS BORN. John Henry Cross decides to develop a yacht club on what had originally been the Anson Mase homestead. With 450 feet of shoreline and a retaining wall, it's the perfect harbor for keelboats. To complete the site, an additional three-acre parcel is acquired.

1978: YACHT CLUB CONSTRUCTION BEGINS. Docks at Shorewood Yacht Club (SYC) are constructed using 35-foot long cedar piles driven 15 feet into the lake's bottom. The angled pier design creates easy docking after a day of sailing. Shorewood Yacht Club is officially incorporated a year later.

1995: GABRIEL AND GEORGETTE JABBOUR ACQUIRE SKIFF CRAFT. Made one at a time with singular quality, nothing can match the performance and beauty of these handcrafted wooden boats. Offering new boats of this caliber adds to Tonka Bay's heritage and character as Lake Minnetonka's premier marina.

1990: THE MARINA CHANGES HANDS. Gabriel Jabbour purchases Tonka Bay Marina. He adds staff, expands services, improves the facilities and consolidates his marine holdings.

1996: GABRIEL AND GEORGETTE JABBOUR ACQUIRES SKIFF CRAFT. Made one at a time with singular quality, nothing can match the performance and beauty of these handcrafted wooden boats. Offering new boats of this caliber adds to Tonka Bay's heritage and character as Lake Minnetonka's premier marina.

2000: THE MARINA EXPANDS. With the purchase of Excelsior Bay docks, the Jabbour family begins to create the largest premier marina on Lake Minnetonka.

2005: ST. ALBANS BAY DOCKS ARE ACQUIRED. Improvements are made to the facilities, and in 2009 brand new docks are built. The well-lit walkways are wider and sturdier, and the solid wood pilings make it easier and safer to secure your boat.

2006: SHOREWOOD YACHT CLUB IS ACQUIRED. The Jabbours add serious sailing to the Tonka Bay Marina lakestyle. As SYC membership continues to grow, so does it's commodore leadership, involved social participation and a skilled sailing fleet.