DETROIT – It’s been nearly 30 years since roller coaster fans last rode the Boblo Island theme park. Now, a new documentary about the historic boats that took people back and forth is about to be released in select Emagine theaters for a few nights only.

Boblo Boats: A Ferry Story from Detroit,” examines the history of the amusement park, which closed in 1993, and the two oldest surviving passenger steamships in the United States, the SS Columbia and the SS Ste Claire.

The film will be shown at Emagines in Birmingham, Rochester Hills and Royal Oak from Wednesday 15th September. Flowers can be purchased here. The last shows are scheduled for September 22.

The film is told from the perspective of the SS Columbia and tells the story of the efforts to save her sister ship, the SS Ste Claire. Motown legend Martha Reeves voices Columbia in the film.

The film was screened at film festivals across the country, including the 2021 Freep Film Fest.

“Bobble Island and the boats that got us there hold a special place in the hearts of many Detroiters, but it’s not just a nostalgic exercise,” said Kathy Kelishewski, artistic director of the Freep Film Festival. “This is a film about the present and people committed to preserving history and memories despite some extraordinary obstacles.”

MLive has been keeping you updated on the restoration efforts of both Columbia and Ste Claire for years.

Here’s the view aboard the Ste Claire before the fire destroyed most of the boat in 2018. Despite the devastation caused by the fire, the boat’s restoration continues at the Detroit Marina.

A restoration group says it has completed the restoration of the first three decks destroyed by the fire. The rest of the structure is expected to be completed by the end of this year

The SS Columbia is no longer in Michigan. It is owned by a New York nonprofit that is restoring the ferry into a mobile museum and event space in Buffalo. Read more about these recovery efforts here.

MLive also investigated Boblo Island to see what it looks like now and we discovered many creepy remnants of the old private island amusement park that is now filled with new houses and apartments on one side of it.

After its select theatrical run, Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale will continue at The Mariner Theater in Marine City, where it will be accompanied by a special Boblo museum exhibit throughout September.


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