Abandoned Boblo Island Amusement Park History
Abandoned Boblo Island Amusement Park is a former 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.
The funny thing about Boblo Island was how easy it was to get there, the guy on the ferry boat didn’t ask us where we were going and he didn’t even charge us for the ferry ride.
Once over and on the island, I was surprised at the lack of No Trespassing signs, literally NONE! There was one sign at a road that said “Road Closed”, which to me means I can’t drive down that road.
Also, we spotted several people walking their dogs all over the abandoned side of the island, so what the hell I guess it’s fine then??
We had no intentions of forcing our way into any buildings, in fact the dance hall was very well sealed off so we simply took exterior photos.
As we approached the tower ride and the theatre and some other building, we found that the doors were open, or someone had previously yanked boards off of doors, so we proceeded to explore and film and take photos.
Once we finished in the theatre we were on our way back to the car when a truck rolled up on us and told us we were trespassing. Puzzled, RiddimRyder Photography and I stated we were just taking photos and that there were in-fact no signs and we asked about all the other people walking around.
Anyway, we were met at the parking lot by a kind woman who inquired about what we were doing, asked us to delete our photos and sent us on our way. She told us that they are aware of the videos and the photos on the internet that make the island look rundown and abandoned and that is not the way they want their precious island to be perceived.
So, what did I do?
I made a very nice video that highlights the past of the island with the amusement park and footage of people having fun, mixed in with footage of the run down park now and I capped it off with real estate footage of the OTHER side of the island with it’s million dollar homes, manicured yards and luxury cars.
You see I’m not a bad guy and I think I did a good thing by compromising with this woman and showing both sides of Boblo Island.
That lady ended up leaving a very nasty review and comment on my page last year, but I don’t have reviews posted anymore so I can’t show you the nasty things she said.
I hope for her sake they have bought some No Trespassing signs, they have boarded up the open buildings and they have told the ferry driver to do a better job at screening people coming over!
I will end this off by saying, if you plan to visit Boblo Island to explore the abandoned amusement park – don’t bother, it’s not THAT interesting and if you are caught they will ask you to delete your photos, and if they ask you to delete your photos….there are many photo recovery sites and programs online where you can get your photos back!
Abandoned Boblo Island Amusement Park Photo Gallery