THE DETROIT RIVER
AMUSEMENT PARK

A maiden once said to her Pa, "Oh Pa, can I go to Bah Blah?"
Her father said "No!  You can't go to Bob-Lo, the place is too terribly far!"

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In 1898 the Detroit, Windsor, and Belle Isle Ferry Company opened up a recreation park eighteen miles southwest of Windsor on the lower Detroit river.  The ferry company was busy during the week shuttling people and goods across the river, and created this destination park to keep the ferries busy on the weekends.  This was a place to go and relax for it included and 18 mile boat ride on the company's famous passenger vessels  COLUMBIA built in 1902 and STE. CLAIRE, built in 1910.  The first steamer to carry picnickers to the island was the steamer  PROMISE.  Bob-Lo was originally named Bois Blanc by the French, due to the birch and beech trees that once covered the approximately half-mile wide by three-mile long island. The area’s non-French residents called the island Bob-Lo, since they couldn’t pronounce Bois Blanc properly. This name stuck for years and was officially accepted by the owners and area residents in 1949. 

By 1910 the first amusement park rides, the carousel, ponies and a dancing pavilion were available.  By 1920 the famous amusement ride, the Whip was installed on the island and the first season alone paid for the maintenance and the purchase of the ride.  In 1949, bankruptcy threatened the island park. The initial attractions of the island were mostly simple: a day on the river and a picnic in the park-like setting of the island. There was a carousel, and Henry Ford had a dance hall designed and built by Albert Kahn, which in 1903 was billed as the world's second largest.  Windsor Mayor Arthur John Reaume wanted the island to be designated a National Park. The Browning family, however, stepped in and bought the property and the steamships. The Browning's transformed the island into an amusement park. They built roller coasters, rides, a Ferris wheel, a fun house and an antique car exhibit. The miniature railroad that went around the island was built in the 1960's.  In 1961 the dock area was upgraded, the freighter Queenston was stripped and sunk in place as a dock.  It was a unique nautical amusement park because it could only be reached by boat.  The swan paddle boat ride (photo second row left) was added to the attraction in 1970 and became a favorite excursion in the enclosed Detroit River pond.  In 1973 the Thunder Bolt roller coaster was constructed.  Built of steel, it thrilled the crowds that lined up to ride it.  The next addition was a log flume. In 1978 the 100-year-old carousel was restored and returned to active service.  The Browning's sold the island in 1979. Several owners followed, including IBC (owners of the Harlem Globetrotters and Ice Capades) and AAA of Michigan.  In 1990 the old carousel, whose figures were made by famous carousel maker Marcus Illions, was auctioned off.  In 1991 the boats ceased their 81 year run to and from the island and the park closed in 1993.  The rides were sold to amusement parks in Colorado, Texas  and Maryland.  The Island is now a private residential community.

 Now all that remains of Bob-Lo Island "The Isle of Rest and Relaxation"  are snapshots, souvenirs and memories.