Riding the Waves

The history of sailing on area lakes.
This photo of a group of White Bear Lake sailors was taken in the 1920s.

For a century and a half, sailors have skimmed the water of White Bear and surrounding lakes. The earliest known “fleet” of boats belonged to William Markoe who, along with his five sons, had a collection of six sailboats they raced off their dock on Lake Avenue at the foot of Shady Lane. By 1889, the White Bear Yacht Club (WBYC) had been formed, and sailors had a true headquarters at White Bear Lake. Within the first year, the club reached a membership of 42.

In those early years, the races would begin and end at Ramaley Bay, or Boat Works Bay, as it is more commonly known today. In 1891, a number of the members of the White Bear Yacht Club withdrew from that organization and formed the White Bear Yachting Association (WBYA). Within just a couple of years, many area sailors were members of both organizations, which were social outlets as well as sailing clubs. By 1894, the clubs had once again merged and were using the White Bear Yacht Club name.

The WBYA had rented a hotel at the site of the present WBYC clubhouse on the Dellwood shore of the lake, to be used as a clubhouse. In 1898, the property was purchased and the WBYC would build a clubhouse on the site. The present WBYC building is the fourth to be built on the property.


For more information on sailing in the area, visit whitebearhistory.org, or call 651.407.5327.

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. She is one of a handful of community representatives sharing history thoughts monthly.