By Derek Smith
Pictured here is a wonderful photo of the Tashmoo,(circa 1935) its decks are crowded with excited passengers, as it readies for departure from the Harsen’s Island pier, outward bound for the White Star dock in Port Huron. It appears everyone has on their Sunday finery, having spent a relaxing, sun-filled day with the family at Tashmoo Park.
During the summer months, approximately 250,000 people would travel to the island to enjoy the amenities offered by the island and its park. Of course, there was a baseball diamond, picnic tables, swings, and rides(merry-go-round) as well as a dance pavilion and casino. The park was operated between 1897 and 1951. There are still remnants of the Tashmoo Park on the island today. A part of the pavilion still stands and is employed as a boat storage facility.
The Tashmoo would make twice-daily stops traveling from Detroit and Port Huron. The steamer adopted its name from Tashmoo Park, the park supposedly named after Tashmoo Lake on Martha’s Vineyard. The 306-foot Tashmoo made its maiden voyage on June 6, 1900, her paddle was powered by a triple expansion steam engine, which provided plenty of speed when needed.
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On June 18th, 1936, she made her final voyage, she was carrying 1400 passengers to Detroit from Sugar Island when she struck a rock and began to drink water. Her crew managed to nurse the Tashmoo into the Brunner-Mood dock in Amherstburg, Ontario, where the passengers were able to disembark safely.
There she would find a resting place in 18 feet of water. It was thought she could be saved but her damages were too severe, She would eventually be towed by tugs to Boblo Island for removal of those powerful engines. Her final voyage was to a River Rouge dry dock where she was cut up for scrap, its steel more than likely finding its way into a motor car.