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Tobogganists: 1903

Tobogganists: 1903

Bois Blanc Island, Michigan, circa 1903. "Water toboggan, Bois Blanc Park." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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See the rollers?

If you squint closely (in the high resolution version) at the slats on the slide, you will see rollers embedded between them. These would have enhanced the speed of the toboggan, and smoothed the ride. (Another water toboggan like this was at Whitmore Lake, Michigan -- near Ann Arbor.)

A Tale of Two Boblos

This particular Bois Blanc Island is next to Bois Blanc Township in Mackinac County, Michigan. The Canadian island of the same name is part of Ontario.

Boblo Island

I worked on what was called, by then, BobLo Island Amusement Park in Ontario (opposite Amherstburg, in the Detroit River) from 1951 to '56. This is the first I learned of the toboggan. The park is no more. The "Columbia" and the "St. Clair" were the steamers from Detroit and Wyandotte.

Have your passport ready.

For the sake of accuracy, Bois Blanc Island, in the Detroit River, is on the Canadian side of the boundary.

[As noted above, there's more than one Bois Blanc Island. This one is in Mackinac County, Michigan. - Dave]


The locals here call it Boblo Island. It has had quite a past as amusement park, abandoned island and housing development.


If you wanted to dive, the sign says, you must swim or pull yourself out to the diving platform via the handy rope where the water is deep enough.

That slide looks like lots of fun. Even has a slight roller coaster element in the wave form of the slide.

Are those gals renting their clothesline to dry your clothes?

Looks Like Fun

Looks like the world was a lot of fun before the lawyers took over.

Shakin' ride

I'm sure the slats help to get the sled down the track but what a rough ride that must be, especially if the weight on the sled is toward the front!

Talk about the Good Old Days

That looks like a LOT of fun, and I'm sure they didn't need to sign a release in case of injury.

Hey Sis

I have a dream -- bathing suits.

Frozen Fun!

After seeing all the "ghosts" on the street-scene shots, I'm always amazed that these early large-plate cameras could stop action when they wanted to. The shutter speed looks to be at least 1/125 second if not faster. A notable variety of bathing costumes from regular clothing to (gasp) a shirtless lad by the pier. What is the little "doghouse" on the pier for, what does the sign say, and who hands out the toboggans?

[The sign says Do Not Dive Off the Dock. And Shirtless Lad is wearing a shirt. - Dave]

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