John O. Johnson - White Bear Lake, MN. Inventor and boat builder. In 1896, at age 21, he established the Johnson Boat Works in White Bear Lake. The boat works continued for more than 100 years and was known across the U. S. and Canada. In 1900, he built a flat bottom scow sailboat that revolutionized the design for racing sailboats. This boat, the MINNEZITKA, became the prototype of the Class A in the Inland Lakes Yachting Association. A model of it is in the Smithsonian Institution.
In 1910, on January 25, John became the first person in Minnesota to fly a engine-powered airplane. His airplane took off from a level surface, the frozen lake at White Bear. See St. Paul Dispatch Jan. 26, 1910. Note: Others had used a downhill slope similar to a ski jump to launch a plane. Later, in June of 1910 Glenn Curtis came to the Minnesota State Fair to fly his airplane, but John was the first to take off from a level surface, back in January!
In 1921, John invented a rotary snowplow. Patent filed April 1, 1921, second patent (#1,419,263) granted June 13, 1922, and another patent granted in 1925. These snowplows were used in many of the northern states and Canada. In the 1920s and 1930s, the trucks were not powerful enough to rely on the blade plows used today.
~John W. Jonson, White Bear Lake, MN