Passing by the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria you might notice a small pontoon outside the front entrance. Here is the story about one of the first pontoons on Alexandria’s Chain of Lakes.
In the early 1950’s, Stan Pickett and George “Red” Lynde, two pre-teen boys spending their summers on the south end of Lake Carlos, saw Kon-Tiki, a movieabout a 1947 journey by raft across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. Inspired and filled with a sense of adventure, they built their own vessel by cobbling together some old railroad ties and poled it along the lakeshore with a bamboo carpet pole.
The next summer, they improved the craft by adding a cabin built of wooden orange crates. Impressed with the boys’ initiative, their dads helped them build a more sea-worthy (and safer) craft the next summer, and christened it the USS REDSTAN, one of the first pontoon boats to sail the Chain of Lakes.
The craft was powered by a 1930’s 1/3 hp electric trolling motor borrowed from Red’s grandfather, C.F. Lynde. The cabin was waterproofed with canvas stretched over the top and custom canvas side curtains with turn buttons to secure them. It had a small spoked ship’s wheel and steering lines to the motor, a couple of low folding canvas seats, and a regulation life ring on the forward end of the cabin. A car horn and an antique hand bell provided signaling. Connie, Red’s sister, lettered the name on the life ring and cabin sides.
The USS Redstan was donated to the museum by the Pickett Family.