We made the short drive from our summer home in Garden, MI down past Green Bay to Lake Geneva, WI umm, oh, only 375 miles, one-way... We were on a time and money budget so rather than making an extended stay we booked a one night room at The Bayshore Inn in downtown Lake Geneva and right across the street from the lakeshore. We also booked 2 seats for a Gage Marine mailboat tour of Lake Geneva on the Walworth, a modern 85 ft double deck excursion boat powered by a couple of Cummin's diesels.
Gage Marine delivers mail to about 75 residences around the perimeter of the 7 mile long 2 mile wide lake. The skipper maneuvers the boat into places that would make me nervous to go with my skiff while giving a very detailed guided tour of the scenery and mansions of the lake over the boat's PA system. They also employ 2 young mailboys who must learn to jump off the bow of the boat as it approaches private docks, stuff mail and newspapers into mailboxes and jump back on the boat as the stern passes the dock. The boat never stops because it can't be steered around numerous obstacles if it stops. One of the mailboy's grandmother lives on the lake. She was sitting on the dock waiting for the mail when the Walworth made it's stop and her grandson delivered the mail and had just enough time to give her a kiss without missing the boat.
Settlement of Lake Geneva started just after the great Chicago fire in 1871. A rail line was already in operation between Chicago and the lake and many wealthy entrepreneurs including the Wrigleys, Ryersons, Swifts and Schwinns just to name a few fled Chicago for a time. Seeing the beauty of the lake and it's great potential as a summer retreat the mansions started going up practically before the Chicago fire went cold. Today there are a smattering of the old mansions mixed together with replacements for some which were destroyed by fire over the years or simply torn down and replaced with modern structures due to the dearth of prime real estate around the lake. Eric was right that there are a ton of classic boats on the lake. The homes are breathtaking and we will likely travel back to Lake Geneva at some point to walk the lakeshore path pictured in Paul's post. Here then are some pictures of what we say by water on our ride on the Walworth.
We stayed at the Bayshore Inn, pretty reasonable rates, good restaurant, right across from the beach and next to the Baker House, an 1800's inn now in service as a bed and breakfast.
The view across the street. Seems like a nice place for a boat, wonder if that idea would catch on...
Gage Marine has several excursion and charter boats in their fleet.
The Walworth being readied for the morning mail run. For 30 bucks each we got a nice 2-/12 hour guided tour of the lake.
Once under way the mansions are beautiful.
The Walworth gets really close to numerous obstacles as the skipper maneuvers the boat up to private docks to deliver the mail.
Lots of classic wood boats are hanging in the boat houses. There are also a few reproductions of the old water taxis used to transport the wealthy to their residences from the rail head before roads were built around the lake.
Another attraction visible on the shorline ridge overlooking Williams Bay and open to the public is University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, the largest reflector telescope in the world. At over 100 yrears old it is still used for some research. It was where Pluto was discovered. Albert Einstein and Hubbell visited this facility.
Pier 290 is a mail stop and Gage Marine's full service marina.