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Excursionists: 1901

Excursionists: 1901

Circa 1901. "Sidewheeler Tashmoo." Our fourth look at the popular excursion steamer, which plied the Detroit River between Detroit and Port Huron. 8x10 inch glass negative by Lycurgus S. Glover, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Boat House

The upper structure today is a well known summer home on the Detroit River in Amherstburg, Ontario.

Tashmoo Park

The main stop the boat made along the run from Detroit to Port Huron was at Tashmoo Park, an amusement area on Harsen's Island in the St. Clair Flats at the northern end of the lake. In fact, the park was really the reason for the existence of the excursion boat run. My grandparents took this boat to the park several times while they were courting, and later took my very young father there with them. Eventually, they bought a summer cottage on the island not far from where the amusement park once stood.

Hats Off

I wonder if I showed up without a hat on I'd have been ostracized, or worse thrown off the boat. Even 100 years later, the no hat thing is kind of creepy. I guess it creeped out JFK enough for him to almost singlehandedly put the monolithic practice into the dustbin of history (without even realizing it).


Great picture! Don't think that it's a sidewheeler though, appears to have either an enclosed sternwheel, or propeller(s).

[If you look closely at the photo, you'll see that the Tashmoo was indeed a sidewheeler. - Dave]

Up close and personal

Approximately two thirds of the 55 mile trip from Detroit to Port Huron takes place on the narrow Detroit and St. Clair rivers, giving the passengers a close-up view of the goings-on on both the U.S. and Canadian shores and the passing ships. The 20 mile crossing of Lake St. Clair (deepest parts only 20 feet except for the shipping channel) gave the passengers the thrill of seeing the shore recede into a thin dark line for a reasonable period of time. This probably gave many a swain the opportunity to calm the fears of his fretful companion during this part of the trip.

There's a reason for the clarity

The reason it's so clear is the glass negative was a full 8 x 10 inches, whereas our consumer level cameras use 35 mm film or digital sensors smaller than that. More negative area = much better resolution. That being said I am consistently blown away at the detail one can see in these old photos!

Depends on the season

I wouldn't want to be on the bow of that boat in January.

Re: Clarity

Well, the photographers of 100+ years ago were working with vastly different equipment. Instead of a fast f/2.8 lens and a half-inch sensor, they had smaller apertures, perhaps f/22 or higher, on a nearly 13-inch diagonal plate!
At 3600 dpi (not unreasonable for silver emulsion), that's nearly a gigapixel image.

Back to the Future

This is where Shorpy excels. The clarity of the HD version is phenomenal. I wish I could get my pictures this sharp and it's 109 years later.

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