The excursion steamer Tashoo was once considered the fastest vessel on the lakes.
It surprises many local residents unfamiliar with Great Lakes history
to find out there were once thriving excursion and travel routes all along the Lakes.
The Tashmoo frequented the cities around eastern and southeastern Michigan, northern
Ohio, and neighboring areas of Canada.
Her most famous stop was Tashmoo Park on Harson's Island, an amusement park opened
in 1897 that gave
the boat that her name. She began operations in 1900. The vessel was designed to offer luxury
travel at an affordable price. What are now considered the glory days of excursion
sailing slowly came to an end around the time of the Great Depression. Tashmoo still
plies the lakes until 1936, while returning to Detroit on June 18 she struck rocks with 1,400 people on
board. Minor injuries were recorded and every one was evacuated. Attempts were made to raise her, but
the salvage process broke her keel. Damaged beyond repair, she was scrapped. Tashmoo park
itself closed 1951. Efforts have been made in recent years to celebrate the best of a
bygone era with a Tashmoo Days festival on Harson's Island recently every summer.
The name of the excursion steamer was originally pronounced with a single
long "o" sound at the end, like final "o" in the word "Apollo". Legend says it came
from a local Native American word. According to a side article in Ladies of the Lakes by
James Clary, 1981, a researcher had tracked down an a word likely related to "Tashmoo"
with the help of the Ojibway language center on Walpole Island, a neighbor of Harson's
Island, "Aunwashemo", pronounced "New Weshemo", meaning a place to rest. According to the
researcher/writer, when said quickly it sounded very much like the traditional pronunciation of
Modern pronunciation of Tashmoo sadly
is heading toward an awkward double "oo" as in "mood".
More information can be found at
historicdetroit.org, accessed December 2, 2015.
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