Sister Ships: Filmmakers Tell the Tale of the Boblo Boats

The SS Columbia and SS Saint Claire star in a new Detroit-based documentary.

Filmmakers from New York are working on a Detroit-based documentary titled “Boblo Boats: A Tale of Two Sisters.”

Combining old footage and oral histories with paid actors and 3-D models, the film sets out to tell the story of the two vessels that ferried passengers to-and-from Boblo Island for more than 85 years.

Kevin Mayer is a featured character. He organizes volunteers working to restore the SS Saint Claire, and runs the unofficial “Boblo Museum” out of his house. Aaron Schillinger is the film’s director.

When they spoke with WDET’s Travis Wright, Mayer said he’d been a Boblo boat baby.

SS Columbia, America’s Oldest Remaining Excursion Steamboat, Will Depart Toledo on September 1 and Arrive in Buffalo on September 2

For nearly a century and a half, lakes, rivers, bays and sounds all across the United States had a grand tradition of excursion steamboats offering the chance to get out on the water for the day. The SS Columbia, the oldest remaining steamboat from that tradition, is being renovated and will one day restore the tradition on the Hudson River.  Designed by Frank Kirby, the most acclaimed architect of these boats, the SS Columbia is currently in Toledo where it has undergone a $1.6 million hull stabilization. It will next travel to Buffalo, where it will stay for a year in preparation for its journey to the Hudson River and New York City.

Tuesday, September 1 (weather permitting), the SS Columbia will be towed from Ironhead Marine Shipyard in Toledo’s Maumee River, departing at 8:00AM. The towing tug will be the Michigan and the assist tug will be the Nebraska.

Wednesday, September 2 (weather permitting), the SS Columbia will arrive at the North Entrance of Buffalo Harbor at 4:00PM. It will greeted by a flotilla of vessels led by the fireboat Cotter and the schooner Spirit of Buffalo on its way to docking at Marine ‘A’ at Silo City in the Buffalo River. Dates for public access to the dock and the steamboat will be announced in the future.