Historic Boblo Island boat, S.S. Ste Claire, destroyed by fire along Detroit River

DETROIT – One of the old, historic boats from Boblo Island caught fire Friday afternoon at Detroit's Riverside Marina.

Detroit arson investigators believe a welding mishap started the fire.

The ship is grounded at the marina. Crews worked to extinguish the fire from all sides. The ship looks to be destroyed. 

Also see: Aerials: Boblo boat catches fire on Detroit River

The S.S. Ste Claire was moved to Riverside Marina last year. In 2016, a collector bought the old ship with restoration plans

Boblo Island closed in 1993.

The story of Boblo Island

In 1898, the Detroit, Windsor and Belle Isle Ferry Company opened up a recreation park on the Detroit River, about 18 miles southwest of Windsor.

The company was busy during the week, moving people and goods up and down the river. They created a destination to keep themselves busy on the weekend.

The 18-mile boat ride was carried out by the famous ships: the Columbia, built in 1902, and the Ste. Claire, built in 1910.

Boblo was originally named Bois Blanc by the French, but residents couldn't pronounce the name. The non-French residents called it Boblo, and the name was officially accepted in 1949.

The first amusement park rides were moving by 1910. The Whip was installed in 1920, which was a huge hit, essentially paying for itself.

In 1949, the island was threatened by bankruptcy. Windsor Mayor Arthur John Reaume wanted the island to be designated a National Park.

Instead, the island and steamships were purchased by the Browning family.

They transformed the island into an amusement park, including a coaster, Ferris wheel, fun house and more. 

Read more about Boblo Island here.

BOBLO BOAT TOUR: Take a video tour of the historic boat that traveled the Detroit River for 81 years. http://bit.ly/2cIo6Ny (Video by Alex Atwell)

Posted by WDIV Local 4 / ClickOnDetroit on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.