After nearly 100 years, Boblo Island Amusement Park has closed.
Amusement parks, by definition, are places of fun, relaxation, excitement, and recreation. One such example is Boblo Island Amusement Park, which first opened in 1898 on Bois Blanc Island in Ontario.
It was about 30 kilometers away and could be reached by ferry for visitors from Detroit.
Ferry services to Boblo Island were provided by the SS Ste. Claire and the SS Columbia.
These steamers are the oldest passenger steamers in the United States of America, and they are currently anchored at the Great Lakes Steel Dock in Ecorse, Michigan.
These steamers could transport over 2,000 passengers from Detroit to the island. The ferries were sold many years later, but the service was carried on by a variety of smaller boats. Surprisingly, the island’s history predates the amusement park.
During the War of 1812, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, a Native American warrior, chose Bois Blanc Island as the location for his headquarters.
During the Upper Canadian Rebellion in 1838, 50 attackers were imprisoned in one of the island’s three blockhouses.
Only one blockhouse remains today. The island was also an important stop on the Underground Railroad to Canada, which worked to help escaped slaves leave the country.
An estimated 30,000 people passed through the island on their way to freedom.
Then came the Boblo Island Amusement Park, with its famous Screamer, Nightmare, and Wild Mouse rides, as well as its zoo and carousel. A miniature railroad allowed visitors to travel between rides and attractions.
The amusement park was so well-known at the time that Henry Ford personally funded the construction of a Dance Hall designed by architect John Scott.
The dance hall was once the world’s second largest, with a capacity of 5,000 dancers. It also housed the 400-pipe, 4-meter-high self-playing orchestra.
Boblo Island Amusement Park had its own version of bumper cars known as Boblo’s Scootaboats.
The park’s popularity began to wane over time. After nearly 100 years in the entertainment business, the park was closed in 1993.
The reasons for its closure were numerous, ranging from rising maintenance costs and poor management to increased competition from the nearby, more appealing Cedar Point Park.
But all is not lost. The Sky Streak Ride, for example, was relocated to Selva Magica, a Mexican theme park, and the Nightmare was relocated to Six Flags Houston, where it was known as the Mayan Mindbender, only to be relocated once more to a theme park in Amarillo, Texas.
Today, 24 years after the park’s closure and 118 years after its grand opening, little remains as a reminder of the island’s history. On the island, a private community is currently being constructed.
The plan is to restructure the entire island and populate it with luxurious homes. The park’s ruins are either overgrown with vegetation or have been demolished.
Today, this island’s community is known as the Marina Resort Community.
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