The owners of the Saint Claire, one of the notorious Bob-Lo Island steamboats, asked Parahaunt to investigate due
to paranormal experiences told by the Ste. Claire renovation volunteers. The Ste. Claire and her sister, Columbia (1902),
were fabricated solely for the purpose of the Bob-Lo run. Bob-Lo Island was a recreation/amusement park that opened
in 1898 on the Detroit River, near Windsor in Canada. In 1991, the steamboats concluded their 81-year run to and from
Bob-Lo Island and the park closed in 1993. Today, Bob-Lo Island is a private residential community.
Both the Ste. Claire and the Columbia characterize the classic propeller-driven excursion steamers of the early 1900’s.
Though the sister ships were only used on lakes, they symbolize the standard ocean steamer boat. The ships are the last
two steamers of their type in the United States. The Columbia is docked at the Great Lakes Steel dock in Ecorse,
Michigan and the Ste. Claire can be visited at the Black River Landing dock in Lorain, Ohio. Currently, she is on her
third phase of restoration and her owners hope to return her to service in the future.
No one in Parahaunt knew any specifics about the haunting of the Ste. Claire other than there have been some disturbances
to volunteers. The main deck was mostly under construction. A few of the storage closets, bathrooms and cabins
we entered were packed to the ceiling with debris, boxes and equipment used by the volunteers to restore the boat. Standing
on the main deck, looking forward toward the front of the boat, the right side of the deck seemed to be a hot spot.
Within the first ten photographs snapped in this area, orbs were captured on film. We were able to track their motion
by snapping photos one immediately after the other. A night-vision camera was set up in one of the side rooms where
we were able to watch any activity via an attached portable television out on the main deck. Orbs in motion could be
seen moving around the room. They were very obviously orbs as they were dense, bright and had no distinct patterns of
“fluttering” to the ground, but a forceful flying routine going in every direction, including up toward the ceiling.
The dust particles could be seen slowly falling straight to the floor.
From the main deck we were taken down to the crew’s cabins which included a bunk bed set, a dresser/cabinet and
a small desk. Cabin numbers 35 and 36 provided an unnerving impression. On the second trip down without anything
being said about the cabins, the dousing rods led a Parahaunt member to cabin 36. Nothing was caught on film or tape
in this area. We then went back to the main deck and down another staircase to the engine room which conveyed an eerie
feeling because of the big, rusty engines and equipment. We found the year “1910” engraved in a lot of the
machinery. Again, nothing was caught on film or tape in this area. We then went back upstairs and down the last
set of stairs to the kitchen and the cook’s chambers. This area is where the Nautical Nightmare volunteers get
ready in make up and costume to give the thrill seekers the night of their lives. Some kitchen equipment was still in
tact, such as a huge old-fashioned mixer. In the cook’s cabin there was a big pile of life preservers and this
area did reveal more uncomfortable feelings, but again, nothing was caught on film or tape.
On the second deck of the Ste. Claire was the main ballroom. Walking up the stairs was like walking up a miniature
version of the Titanic’s grand staircase. The original woodwork, Victorian couches, bar and bandstand are still
in tact. Side rooms were built with ply wood and the ballroom was decorated in spider webs, Halloween decorations and
skeletons for their Nautical Nightmare walk. In fact, the Halloween decorations, specifically the “partying”
skeletons gave us all the more sense of being on a 100-year old haunted ship. The ballroom was marvelous, and it’s
assumed it was even more beautiful in its time, but the makeshift rooms on the left side of the ballroom is where quite a
few people sensed an energy. We found out from one of the volunteers that her daughter works this area during the Nautical
Nightmare season and she is very uncomfortable and always feels as if someone is watching her. The dousing rods and
pendulum proved that someone, or something, was there and willing to communicate with us. We kept this area in mind
and moved up to the third deck of the Ste. Claire.
The third deck was built up mostly as a maze for the Nautical Nightmare Halloween walks. Mostly the maze was plain
wood where the “ghosts and ghouls” would stand on the other side and bang on the walls. A few scenes were
set up to look like old bedrooms on the ship. In this area, a camcorder spotlight kept shutting off by itself and a
full-bodied figure can be seen in a photograph. When this photograph was taken by Becky, no one else was near her in
the maze. On the second and third decks were props used for the Halloween walk. Most of them are mechanical devices
using air pressure to jump up, scream or move at the people walking through. All of them have not been used for months,
yet some of them would make the noises or the motions they do when plugged in for the Nautical Nightmare. We are assuming
that air pressure is probably the answer as to why some of the props would jump out at us during the investigation.
We were taken up to the very top of the boat where the captain’s quarters are, but because of the old floor being
so unstable we could only take pictures from the staircases. We were told the doors were locked but did not try to venture
up there due to the instability of the floor.
After everyone completed their walk-throughs, experiences were had, pictures were taken and we all had an idea of where
the “hot spots” were, we decided upon conducting a circle. We decided to gather in one of the small make-shift
rooms to the left of the ballroom on the second deck where everyone, including Ste. Claire volunteers, sensed a form of energy.
Six members of Parahaunt including founder Scott Hattis participated in the event. Almost immediately Scott sensed a
young man, as did Becky. In conclusion of the circle, we found:
The energy of a young man, early 30’s
The man had dark hair and a thin, dark mustache
He was wearing a white
shirt, half apron tied behind his waist, black pants
He was a server/waiter on the boat during its prime early years
name was Richard
He died a lonely man
He is sad, agitated and didn’t seem too happy
The Ste. Claire is considered
During the session, near the end, Scott had allowed Richard to channel through his body. No one was aware that
this incident was going to take place, and it took a few minutes for everyone to realize that Scott wasn’t Scott anymore.
His whole demeanor changed as in the way he stood, the way he breathed and the way he talked. Scott’s voice dropped
a few octaves and his speech slowed down from his normal mode of conversation. Richard said, through Scott, “I
died a lonely man.” A few seconds of silence. “This is my home. What are you doing here?”
More silence. And then “Richard.” He said “Richard” after someone asked what his name
was. After a minute more of silence, Scott returned with an instant migraine, tears in his eyes and out of breath.
We are not sure why Richard chose Scott to channel his energy through, because earlier in the night the pendulum rotated counter-clockwise
rather fiercely in this side room until Scott entered, and then it would stop immediately. We were under
the impression that Richard was not very fond of Scott, but after opening his mind to the circle, Scott may have been the
easiest person to use as a form of communication for Richard.
When asked the name of the spirit we were dealing with during the circle, Becky envisioned a bold, capitol “E”.
Later we found that Frank E. Kirby designed the steamers and we believe the bold “E” that Becky kept envisioning
is the middle initial of Frank. After the conclusion of the circle we decided not to take any action and leave Richard
on the boat. A few people sensed what Richard said, that the Ste. Claire is his home away from home and he was most
happy on the boat. Both the pendulum and dousing rods worked strongly along the side rooms and more pictures were taken.
Around 11:00 PM everyone dispersed and began packing up their equipment.
Becky and Erica of Parahaunt, and three guests sat talking in the middle of the grand ballroom after the circle when
everyone else went down to the main deck. In the midst of personal conversation a loud noise and the sound of motion
came from one of the small rooms to the right of the ballroom, opposite of the room where the circle took place. When
the room where the noise was heard was inspected, we found that a skeleton that was supposed to be folded up in a box had
jumped up to full size, which was about seven feet high. After further exploration, we found that the machine was unplugged,
so how that skeleton jumped up on its own is anyone’s guess. Richard, maybe? “Someone” else?
A very strange coincidence?
During the two-and-a-half hour investigation, we found very strong energy in some areas of the boat, and the anomalies
found in our pictures, our experience with Richard during the circle and viewing orbs in motion with our own eyes through
a night-vision camera helped to build credence toward the ghost stories that are told on this boat. Now that Parahaunt
has an idea of who haunts the boat and what level the activity is, we intend on going back for a more in-depth investigation
with a much smaller group of people. An update for part two of the Bob-Lo Island Saint Claire investigation will be
posted in the near future. The historical information of the steamers and Bob-Lo Island, as well as Nautical Nightmare
and general information of the Saint Claire can be found via the following links: