Origins of the Pontoon Boat
During the summer months, there's nothing more "Minnesotan" than taking a boat ride on a favorite lake, river or waterway.
One of the more popular boats in Minnesota is a Pontoon Boat. They're like a floating party in perpetual motion and very much a part of leisure activity on the weekends in Minnesota. A pontoon boat ride is all about getting together and sharing a beautiful day chatting, fishing, swimming, suntanning, reading a book or even going water skiing.
Pontoon boats provide an easy way to get everyone out for a few hours to explore, mix and mingle, and freely move around. It's a great excuse to relax and slow down the pace from today's hectic lifestyle, just be sure to leave the cell phones behind.
Where were Pontoon Boats Invented?
Pontoon Boats were first invented and manufactured in Minnesota. In 1951, Ambrose Weeres, a farmer in the rural town of Richmond, MN., had the idea that if you built a wooden deck on top of two columns of steel barrels welded together, you would have a sturdy deck that would be more stable on water than a conventional boat. His initial boat though, was basically a plywood sheet strapped to 55-gallon steel drums.
In 1952 he founded Weeres Industries and took orders for 40 more boats and an industry was formed. In 1990, the Minnesota state legislature recognized Ambrose Weeres as "Mr. Pontoon." and in 1991, he was inducted into the Minnesota Marine Hall of Fame. He passed away shortly thereafter at the age of 84.
To date, Weeres Industries, located in central Minnesota (New Ulm, MN) has built and sold more than 30,000 pontoon boats. It's pontoon boats are afloat on the Nile and Thames rivers, and in Sweden's Stockholm harbor to name a few places. Today, Weeres Pontoon boats range in size from a four-person, 16-foot fishing model to a 28-foot, luxury "tri-toon" that can accommodate up to 30 people.
Source: Weeres Industries
*NOTE: In July 2011, Weeres Industries was sold to Premier Marine, Inc., a pontoon boat manufacturer located in Wyoming, MN. Weeres Industries will continue to operate as an independent business from their current facilities. (source: Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal).