Abandoned Boblo Island Amusement Park
Boblo Island Amusement Park is an abandoned amusement park which ran from 1898 until its closure on September 30, 1993. Its amusement rides were sold in 1994. It is now an expensive, gated housing community with a private clubhouse.
The park was located on Bois Blanc Island, Ontario. It lies just above the mouth of the Detroit River. The people of Detroit, Michigan characterized it as that city’s Coney Island.
The island is a five-minute ferry ride from Amherstburg, Ontario, and 18 miles from Detroit. For more than 85 years, the park was served by the SS Ste. Clair and the SS Columbia excursion boats. The Boblo Island Amusement Park was famous for those two steamers, the “Bob-Lo boats”, which went between Detroit and the island. They could hold about 2,500 passengers each. The excursion boats were sold in November 1991. Other smaller ferries served the park from Amherstburg and Gibraltar, Michigan, which were located closer to the park on the Detroit River
The Nightmare, Falling Star, Wild Mouse, Sky Streak, and Screamer rides, a Ferris wheel, a zoo, and a carousel were the signature attractions.
To move visitors around the island, the park constructed a small railroad. Henry Ford financed a dance hall that was rumored to have been designed and built by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn. The dance hall was the second largest in the world, holding 5,000 dancers at full capacity and featured one of the world’s largest orchestrations from the Welte company: a 16 foot tall, 14 foot wide, self-playing orchestra with 419 pipes and percussion section.
I explored the abandoned Boblo Island Amusement Park in 2018 and found the contrast between the east side and the west side of the island to be very interesting. We were told by a local resident that they have been given the authorization and approvals to move forward with developing homes on the abandoned side of the island. Time will only tell what will come of the dance hall, the theater and the other remaining structures.