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The Fuzz

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2015, 10:04:10 AM »

It looks like it was a good spot to spend a lazy summer day.

What happened to cause its demise?
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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2015, 10:10:07 AM »

It looks like it was a good spot to spend a lazy summer day.

What happened to cause its demise?

Good question...

I'm guessing the proximity to Cedar Point may have been part of the problem.  Maybe the fact it was in a 'foreign country' made it more difficult for the masses to cross over to Canada.  I know there are quite a few nice homes built on the island now so maybe the value of the land changed.  Maybe people all wanting to go spend their money at Disney?

So many possibilities.  I'm sure there are plenty of opinions ;) ;) ;)
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The Fuzz

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2015, 10:19:59 AM »

Gotcha, thanks!

A fad that ran its course.....looked like a neat place though.
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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2015, 11:23:48 AM »

Gotcha, thanks!

A fad that ran its course.....looked like a neat place though.


I would be interested in figuring out if the age of the steamboats may have had something to do with the demise of the amusement park.  Seems like within a year of the steamships shutting down the park went out of business too.  But maybe the park's business had slowed to the point it couldn't support the steamships at that point.  People from the area could drive to Canada and to the amusement park pretty quick too. 

When I was first working down in this area back in '83 I remember going to Gibraltar to the marinas and seeing the Boblo docks that were there.  I don't know if they were still bringing people from downtown Detroit at the time or if they were the only docks.  The docks were almost straight west of Boblo (Bois Blanc) Island except Grosse Ile is in between.

http://mapcarta.com/22318734

http://michigan.hometownlocator.com/maps/feature-map,ftc,2,fid,1618405,n,bob-lo%20boat%20dock.cfm

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gibraltar,+MI/@42.0991606,-83.191812,626m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x883b3ede066d866b:0x980f835f4bfa8b3!6m1!1e1
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Tiny

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2015, 11:52:34 PM »

If you watch the 20 minute long, Mort Crim, video (lots of very good information) it says the Columbia was made in Wyandotte 1902 exclusively for the Ferry company that owned the Island. In 1910 the St. Clair was built in Toledo and added to the company.

The early years it was an Indian mission there, and later the British used it early 1800's.

Later Vaudeville actors from New York used it for a summer recreation place.

1898 it opened for recreation and little by little they kept adding attractions.

1913 they built the huge dance pavilion, dancing was the big thing back then. They even had a dance floor on the St Clair.

In 1929 they built the Ambassador Bridge and 1930 the tunnel to Canada right under the ferry company's route. In 1933 and 34 they closed the Island because of the Depression.

In 1944 they changed the engines in the boats, from coal to oil fuel to make them more cost efficient. It was sold in 1949 to the Browning shipping Company they added the rides and roller coasters. The Browning company bought their competition's boat the Put In Bay and stripped it to use on the two Bob-Lo boats and kill competition.

It was sold again in 1979. In 1980 the new company added lots more attractions and raised prices and started one price for all rides. Then the Republican Nat'l Convention was held at Joe Louis Arena and they were forced to close the docks behind Joe Louis. This all caused a reduction in ticket sales and the company was forced to file bankruptcy in 1981.

In 1983 AAA of Michigan bought the Island for 6.5 million dollars, with a five year plan to fix it up, and spent 11 million more on new rides and attractions and changed many of the buildings. They sold it in 1988 for 21.6 million dollars to the International Broadcasting Company.

IBC added stage shows and water ski shows and Mud volleyball. IBC filed for bankruptcy in 1991. They sold the two ships for 235 thousand dollars as part of the chapter 11 bankruptcy. This brought an end to a unique recreational experience. Two sets of owners defaulted on the boat purchases resulting no maintenance.

1993 the Island was auctioned off and the new owner decided to make it a concert place where bands like the Beach Boys played. The new owner was paralyzed in a car crash and the financial backing company took control of the island and sold off all the rides. They sold it again to a Canadian Business man.


I know in the 1970's there was talk of building a Cedar Point type amusement park in Irish Hills area but it never happened. My parents owned a cottage in the area and we thought it would be great but I guess residents didn't think the same thing. It would have killed the amusement places along US-12 which died anyways later.
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The Fuzz

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2015, 06:20:31 AM »

Thanks for that piece of history.......very interesting.
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BigRedDog

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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2018, 03:57:30 PM »

While we were at lunch I saw on my phone that the one Boblo steamboat still here in Michigan (I don't remember which one it is) was on fire in the Detroit River wherever it is moored now.  100+ year old wood burns fast.  The pictures at the time didn't look like they'll save anything above the water line.  I'll look for pictures later and post what I can find.
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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2018, 08:18:40 PM »

The Ste. Clair burned to what may turn out to be a total loss this afternoon. 

Here's the WXYZ news report on the fire:

Investigators say welding spark caused massive Boblo boat fire
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SidecarFlip

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2018, 10:09:04 PM »

Looks pretty well done in....
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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2018, 10:30:07 PM »

Looks pretty well done in....

When you think of everything that boat has been through it's really surprising it didn't burn decades ago. 
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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2018, 08:50:41 AM »

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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2018, 11:19:17 AM »

An interesting twist here...

this guy had started on the Ste. Clair as a deck hand and worked his way up to captain.  When they quit using the ship he joined the Detroit FD and ended up captaining a fire boat (do they have more than one?).

And he ended up on the call for the Ste. Claire burning!!!

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local-4-news-at-11/former-ss-ste-claire-captain-battles-historic-boat-s-flames-as-detroit-firefighter
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BigRedDog

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Re: Boblo Island and their historic steamboats
« Reply #28 on: July 10, 2018, 08:18:11 AM »

A drone's eve video of the boat after the fire.  Turn down the volume on your speakers before you start. 

Looks to me like all they really have is a hull to start from.  It will definitely be a labor of love but I don't see how they'll ever be able to rebuild it.  I see they have a 'GoFundMe' account.  When I looked they had $375 out of a goal of $600,000. 


https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/07/drone_shows_ruins_of_boblo_isl.html

video from above article:

Boblo Boat - Ste. Claire - Ruins 7.8.18
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