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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Twin Queens of the Lakes

I was in Ludington a couple of days ago, and visited the Twin Queens of the Lakes, the S.S. Badger, and S.S. Spartan.

S.S. Spartan car ferry

Here's the S.S. Spartan, one of the queens. She's not a very happy queen, but because she's not operational, it's possible to get a nice clear picture.

S.S. Badger car ferry

This one is the S.S.Badger. From May to October, she is one of the two ferries on which you can cross Lake Michigan. There's a high-speed ferry that goes from Muskegon to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Badger crosses from Ludington to Manitowac.

The Badger and the Spartan were built in 1952, and at 410 feet are the largest ferries ever built on the Great Lakes. They were part of the fleet of rail car ferries in the C&O Line, but also carried autos and passengers. When the railroad shut down in 1990, everyone thought it was the end of the ferry era.

S.S. Badger car ferry

But the ferries are a much-loved part of Ludington history, and offer a valuable service. A series of local businessmen have invested huge sums of money to keep them operational. The Badger still survives and runs twice daily from May through October. That makes it harder to get a good picture, she's snuggled up to a loading ramp.

welcome to Michigan

And since that puts us on a state border, Ludington gets a "Welcome to Michigan" sign. I've included a link below to more car ferry history.

Oh, you want to know about yesterday's pictures? I'll tell you tomorrow.

See Lake Michigan Carferry History


vanilla said...

This is a great report. I was in Ludington in the early sixties and wanted to cross on the ferry. No can do. Needed a reservation. Couldn't wait. Still wish I could have done it.

Lin said...

She's a beauty!

jeanlivingsimple said...

You are showing me a world I have never seen. Thanks!

RNSANE said...

Other than New Orleans, I think the only car ferries I've been on are in Canada, to go over to Victoria, British Columbia. That one I've done about 25 times!

rainfield61 said...

I told my son I have a few friends from Michigan, and the lake is so beautiful.

Clara said...

I've taken the Badger across. It's quite an experience.

Ann said...

That's some ferry. Nice to know that some things are kept alive.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

vanilla- so come visit and do it this summer!

Lin- it's really an experience

Jean- life on the lakes!

Carmen- very similar

rainfield- the lake is a real treat for us, in any season

Clara- glad to hear it! Of course it's been made much more passenger-friendly and nice in the past few years.

Ann- it's a real part of the local heritage

wiseacre said...

I should go to the river and take photos of the ocean freighters that pass through the area. the Atlantic is over 400 miles away :)

Connie Myres said...

Brrr, looks cold...I live in Michigan and love it; it's a great state.