The "Belle Isle Park ferry dock, Detroit, Michigan. The steamer "Garland" at the dock, Detroit River, 1905.
The Garland Steamship was a well-known vessel that operated in the Great Lakes region in the early 1900s, particularly around the city of Detroit. It was built in 1888 and was originally named the Samuel F. Hood. It was later renamed the Garland in honor of Augustus H. Garland, who was a United States Attorney General and Secretary of the Interior during the late 1800s.
The Garland was a steam-powered ship that was primarily used for transporting bulk cargoes such as coal, grain, and iron ore. It was owned and operated by the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, which was a major player in the iron and steel industry at the time.
During its years of operation, the Garland was involved in several noteworthy incidents. In 1905, it collided with another vessel on Lake Huron, but managed to escape serious damage. In 1906, it ran aground on a reef in Lake Erie and had to be freed by tugboats. In 1914, it collided with a bridge near Detroit, causing significant damage to both the ship and the bridge.
Despite these incidents, the Garland continued to operate for many years, and was eventually sold for scrap in the 1930s. Today, it is remembered as a significant part of the history of the Great Lakes shipping industry.
Belle island was settled by French colonists in the 18th century, who named it Île aux Cochons (Hog Island), after the livestock that were allowed free range. The Island was once the estate of American General Alexander Macomb, Jr., whose monument stands in the Washington Boulevard Historic District in downtown Detroit. On July 4, 1845, a historic picnic party was held on the island to change the name to "Belle Isle" in honor of Miss Isabelle Cass, the daughter of then Governor (General) Lewis Cass. The name Belle Isle (an archaic spelling of Belle Île) means "beautiful island" in French.
The prominent American urban park designer Frederick Law Olmsted created a design for the island in the 1880s. He was known for his design of Central Park in New York. But only some elements of his design were completed. The 1908 Belle Isle Casino building is not a gambling facility; rather, it is used for occasional public events. Highlights of Belle Isle include a botanical garden and the Belle Isle Conservatory(1904). Both the conservatory and the adjacent aquarium were designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, who designed city landmarks such as Cadillac Place and the Ford Rouge Factory.