The voyage of the Ellen Ruth to her final berth in a Wahkon park is a tale drenched in the fishing history of the lake.
Visitors to Wahkon can find the impressive 42-foot launch moored at the south end of town at the corner of Main Street and 1st St. E. The Ellen Ruth was once the largest fishing launch in active duty on Mille Lacs Lake.
Painted in her original sparkling white and red scheme, the Ellen Ruth now sits under a shelter built to protect her from the ravages of time. There next to her sturdy wooden hull is a grassy area with picnic tables which are favorites of tourists passing through town on Hwy 27 or via the Soo Line Trail.
The back story of how the Ellen Ruth became an icon of the city in its heyday goes to 1932 when she was commissioned by entrepreneur resorter Guy Hill and built of Lebanon Cyprus by Dingle & Sons Boatworks in St Paul. Hauled by rail and horse teams to Mille Lacs Lake, she was named for Hill’s two daughters Ellen and Ruth and used as an excursion boat for many years and stayed with the resort located at the north end of Main Street later popularly known as Freddies.
In 1960 Ames and Rowena Petty bought the resort and the Ellen Ruth which continued to serve vacationing anglers for another 29 seasons. The Pettys opened up the boat’s cabin to accommodate fishing.
Rowena recalled later that the Ellen Ruth was a craft worthy of the waves and storms which often crossed the big lake. The Petty’s sons, Paul Gary and Larry, all obtained their pilots licenses and took their turns running the craft through fall, 1988 when Freddies Resort was sold . Rowena donated the Ellen Ruth to the city and she found her place in the living history of town as a permanent memorial.
The picnic tables located in Ellen Ruth Park offer a good view of the craft as well as a dandy spot to sit a spell. Visitors are always welcome to come and take in a bit of local lore.
The Ellen Ruth – once the largest fishing launch in active duty on Mille Lacs Lake
Grassy Picnic Area
Paved Parking Spots
Located at the south end of town at the corner of Main Street and 1st St. E.