Labor and Economic Opportunity
The steamer Columbia represents the typical propeller-driven excursion steamer of the turn of the century, a type once found in many parts of the country. Excursion steamers are steamships built primarily for passengers for day trips. Columbia and her running mate Ste. Claire represent the "ocean-going" type of excursion vessel although they were used on lakes. The steamer Columbia is significant as one of the last pair of classic excursion steamers in the country; as one of the two last essentially unaltered ships designed by Frank E. Kirby; as one of the two last vessels of the Detroit and Windsor Ferry Co.; as one of the few surviving vessels built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company, and for its unaltered propulsion machinery, which is of a rare type. Columbia is the oldest passenger steamer in the United States, excepting vessels properly classed as ferries.