The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society will celebrate its 45th anniversary with a special evening including a Tapping History presentation, “A History of the Excelsior Amusement Park,” by nationally known amusement park historian Greg Van Gompel.

Van Gompel’s passion for amusement parks began in 1988, and he has since served as legal counsel for the National Amusement Park Historical Association, as well as editor of its magazine, “NAPHA News.”

He has been conducting exhaustive research about the Excelsior park since 2002 in many places, including the ELMHS and with the descendants of park creator Fred Pearce. He recently completed a book about the park for History Press, “Excelsior Amusement Park: Playland of the Twin Cities,” which is expected to be launched worldwide later this summer.

The Excelsior Amusement Park operated on Excelsior Bay from 1925 to 1973. It was built by nationally known outdoor amusement industry figure Pearce and became a popular “trolley park” on the Minneapolis streetcar line. It was home to a number of rides and attractions and was a regionally popular destination for many family picnics and company gatherings. The park is remembered with great affection and nostalgia by multiple generations, including students who received “Free Tickets for Good Marks.”


Tapping History provides an opportunity to learn about the history of Lake Minnetonka in a casual and convivial atmosphere. The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society produces this monthly series highlighting local history in word and image, presented by respected historians and passionate amateurs alike.

About the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society

Founded in 1972, the society collects, preserves and shares the history of Deephaven, Excelsior, Greenwood, Shorewood and Tonka Bay.

The society’s archives and museum are open to the public and house one of the largest collections of historical artifacts, documents and photographs in the area. A number of books about Lake Minnetonka history have been published by the society, and programs and initiatives have been created to share the history of the area with the public. For more information about the society, visit