Did You Know the Pontoon Was Invented in Stearns County?
Minnesotans don't get enough credit for all the cool stuff they provide to the rest of the world. In 1952, a local farmer created the first version of the modern pontoon as we know it today.
Ambrose Weeres put a wooden platform on two columns of steel barrels welded together end-to-end, creating a sturdy deck that would be more stable on a lake than a conventional boat. Living in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Weeres thought this idea might be marketed.
Weeres tested his creation on the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes in Richmond, and after a successful prototype, he made a few more and sold them with the help of dealers. He started Weeres Industries to meet unexpected demand for the new product.
The original pontoon that Weeres created was a little different than the fancy ones we know and love today. The original steering mechanism involved a vertical stick at the forward railing, connected by two lines to the engine. The general idea was to move the stick to the left to turn left, center the stick for straight ahead, and move it right to turn right.
I gotta say, I much prefer the actual steering wheels we have today.
Ambrose Weeres was elected into the Minnesota Marina Hall of Fame, and was affectionately called "Mr. Pontoon". His water inventions didn't stop there either. In 1956 he is credited with creating the first paddle boat.
Thank you Mr. Weeres for creating something that has been bringing family and friends together on the lake for decades now. Your invention has changed the way Minnesotans spend their summers in the best way possible!
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