Big Island Park operated from 1906 to 1911. This 65-acre park was situated on the heavily wooded Big Island on Lake Minnetonka.
It was purchased in 1905 and operated by the Minneapolis and Suburban Railroad Co., a subsidiary of the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Co. (TCRT). Park-goers would take the new electric streetcar, which ran just south of St. Louis Park on 44th Street, to the Excelsior Dock, where passengers could take one of nine streetcar boats (named Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnetonka, Como, Minnehaha, White Bear, Hopkins, Harriet and Stillwater) to the Park. The official opening was on August 5, 1906. The boats operated until 1926.
Patrons were met with such amusements as the “Happy Hooligan Slide,” a “Figure-8 Toboggan,” and a miniature train. The Park featured a large music casino, a large roller coaster, the Old Mill, the Scenic Ride to Yellowstone, and a carousel. The buildings has a Spanish mission theme. A 200 ft. tower dominated the park.
The price was only 25 cents, including the streetcar ride, and it became clear that it was not a profitable operation, especially after the TCRT also bought the Tonka Bay Hotel. Both the Park and the Hotel closed at the end of the 1911 season. After sitting abandoned for a few years, the Park was disassembled in 1918, its iron going to scrap iron for the WWI War effort. Some remaining buildings, including a mess hall, became part of a Veteran’s Camp starting in the early 1920s.
The streetcar boats were discontinued in July 1926. In 1925, Excelsior Amusement Park was built at the site of the waiting station for the streetcar boats. Streetcar boats were revived in 1996.