SS Badger

SS Badger

Riding the Ferries Across Lake Michigan

June/July 2007

In June, GLMRI Associate Researcher Stacey Carlson travelled across Lake Michigan (both ways!) from Manitowoc, Wis., to Ludington, Mich., aboard the SS Badger and from Muskegon, Mich., to Milwaukee, Wis., aboard the Lake Express high speed ferry.

Lake Express

Lake Express

The SS Badger entered service in 1953 and was used primarily for transporting railroad freight cars for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railways, while also providing some passenger accommodations. The Badger made calls on the ports of Manitowoc, Milwaukee, and Kewaunee, Wis. As a decline in railroad freight brought about many changes in the car ferry service, the Badger tied up in Ludington, Mich., in 1990 and was thought to be out of the car ferry service for good. In 1991, however, the Badger was revitalized with financial backing from entrepreneur Charles Conrad and put back into service to carry passengers and their vehicles, and a handful of commercial and large recreational vehicles.

The Lake Express was brought into service in May 2004 and currently offers daily trips between Muskegon, Mich. and Milwaukee, Wis. The ship, built in Mobile, Ala., is the first U.S. built and flagged high speed ferry currently operating in the U.S.

  SS Badger Lake Express
Transit Time 4.5 hours 2.5 hours
Vehicle Capacity 180 vehicles 46 vehicles/12 motorcycles
Passenger Capacity 620 passengers 248 passengers

Both the SS Badger and the Lake Express car ferries provide travelers with alternatives when travelling between Michigan and Wisconsin, without having to contend with traffic in and around the greater Chicago area. More information regarding cost, and ship departure and arrival times can be found on their websites: SS; and Lake

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