Yet another person who loves the Mississippi River so much that he lives to share it is Cory Parkos. As a kid growing up in Columbia Heights, Minnesota Cory was drawn to the nearby Mississippi. “Whenever we had free time we’d hop on our bikes and go canoeing and fishing. The River has great energy which pulled me to it.”
When he did finally grow up Cory made a place for himself on the river. He has lived on different houseboats in Minneapolis. For the last 15 years, he has lived under the Great Northern Rail Road Bridge aboard the “Chateau” a 1972 Boatel houseboat. This past July Cory and a business partner, Greg Hoseth, have introduced a water taxi to the Minneapolis waterfront. Greg already runs these little water taxis in a couple of other locales one being Como Lake in St. Paul. On the Mississippi, in Minneapolis, they have been averaging about 8 cruises a day on the weekends.
Cory is licensed for 6 passengers at a time and is working at developing a menu of trips. So far he has done quiet and intimate romantic cruises, docking passengers at the “Sample Room” upstream near the old Psycho Suzies Riverside Bar and just getting people out on the river for an hour at a time.
He graciously offered to take me out for a spin during the first week in October ’17. The area above St. Anthony Falls, what was once termed the Minneapolis Upper Harbor, is now closed off to commercial boating and I was eager to revisit my old barge steering schoolyard. While I waited for Cory to meet me at the little Municipal Marina at Boom Island I stood on the riverbank looking across to the downtown skyline.
All of a sudden there was Captain Cory motoring past me headed upstream for the marina entrance. The boat was so quiet he snuck up on me and I fumbled for my camera to get a long shot of the boat on the river.
These quiet little boats are battery powered with Duffy electric motors turning a twelve-inch prop. The batteries are charged with solar power. Cory’s vessel which runs folks around the stretch of the Mississippi River above the Upper St. Anthony Falls Dam is named “Launa the Launch”.
Presently his rates are about $10 a head per hour. He has floated some ideas with the Nicollet Island Inn to have a dock where he might service weddings and other functions. So far the negotiations have been his efforts to sway management but it seems to me too good of an idea not to engage.
Underway Cory preaches stewardship of the river to his passengers and as we made our way up and down the river he would slow down to pick up floating trash.
Not only did I get to see my old stomping grounds but Cory showed me several hidden gems one can only see from a small boat accessible to the backside of Boom Island and down low and close to shore. He took a minute to show me where the Paddle
Share access is at the park behind the island. Cory hopes to expand the fleet of electric boats on the river and is excited for other possible opportunities to showcase the river to people. “Wouldn’t it be great to see Dan’s pirate ship or even a Viking longboat replica running between Bohemian Flats
and Raspberry Island?”