Lady of the Lake still churning across Clear Lake

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — The iconic Lady of the Lake has given passengers an old-American tour of Clear Lake for 35 years now, and Scott Monson is celebrating six years as her owner.

“She’s a labor of love” Monson called her. This 60-year-old paddle boat is one of the last remaining paddle boat ferries still in operation today.

Lady of the Lake was built by Dubuque Boat & Boiler Works in 1960. It is suspected that she was originally bought under the name “Running River.”

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Running River served as a ferry for freight in the beginning of her service, boasting a load of up to seven vehicles at a time as she traveled on the Missouri River.

In the 1980s, Lady of the Lake was restored by Gary and Karen Geist, who started excursions on Clear Lake. The Globe Gazette reports she has remained on the lake ever since, bringing joy and a taste of history to travelers from all over the world.

“It’s become tradition for a lot of people” Monson said of riding on Lady of the Lake.

From his family riding in the wheelhouse with him, to kindergarten excursions and senior pictures for Clear Lake students, the Lady of the Lake has become an icon for Clear Lake, Iowa.

Scott Monson began driving Lady of the Lake back in 2008.

“I just fell in love with it.” he said. And eight years later, he and his former wife bought the riverboat in 2016.

A true paddle wheeler from the 1960s, she goes through regular maintenance to run from Memorial Day to the end of September. When Monson first bought Lady of the Lake, she underwent some serious renovations.

Monson had installed underwent an electrical system upgrade, a new John Deere diesel engine, new carpeting, reroofing, and new paddles.

That love and renovation pays off for Monson when he sees how Lady of the Lake brings joy to her passengers.

“To see the kids’ smile on their face when they honk the horn — that’s one of my favorite parts” Monson said.

Lady of the Lake will begin offering public excursions on May 27.

For her 35th Anniversary, Monson is planning a special dockside event at the end of August with drink specials and live music. Until then, each Wednesday will be a dockside night, the first of which will be held on June 1, with the Mockingbirds playing.

Ticket prices this year are $16 for adults, $7 for children 12 and under, and kids two and under ride for free.