Lake Michigan Car Ferry

Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan (September 2000)

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Lake Michigan Car Ferry

S.S. Badger
Lake Michigan Ferry

Between Manitowoc and Ludington

The S.S. Badger crossed Lake Michigan between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan. The total trip took about four hours and saved significant time versus driving around the lake, although we actually took the ferry more to enjoy the ride. The huge boat held perhaps a hundred cars as it plowed steadily across the lake. In the middle of the lake I looked around and I could not see land in any direction. With that realization the immensity of Lake Michigan began to sink in.


Upper Deck with Lifeboat

The upper decks of the ferryboat provided plenty of opportunities to poke around and explore remote alcoves. This hidden nook contained a few shaded deck chairs for gazing upon unobstructed lake scenery unfolding along the far side of the railing. If you look up towards the top of this image you'll notice that shade is being provided by the bottom of a lifeboat. In the event of an emergency those metal arms protruding from the edge of the deck would swing out and allow the lifeboats to be lowered safely to the water below. None of that was necessary of course but it was a comforting feeling. A competent crew and a beautiful day made passengers feel safe and secure.

Top Deck

Lounging on the Top Deck

Passengers lounged on the top deck enjoying sunshine from a warm September day. The S. S. Badger had plenty of below-deck space in case of inclement weather, but nobody wanted to be stuck inside on this picture-perfect afternoon. Good seats went fast in maritime musical chairs. The crew navigated across Lake Michigan from the bridge immediately above this upper deck.


Manitowoc Breakwater Lighthouse

The Manitowoc Breakwater Lighthouse guarded the northern entrance of the protected harbor as we departed Wisconsin on our journey to Michigan. This 50 foot tall lighthouse has protected Manitowoc since 1918, although earlier versions stood here beginning in 1839. Keepers once personally tended the light, but today as with nearly every other lighthouse it is fully automated. At the time of this photograph the lighthouse still housed its original fifth-order Fresnel lens, which has since been removed to the nearby Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

Readers who have an interest in lighthouses might also want to check my Lighthouse Index.


Sailboat at Manitowoc

Small sailboats along the Wisconsin coast took advantage of clear skies and gentle breezes. We soon left these tiny craft behind and wouldn't see their kind again until we approached the opposite shore in Michigan. The remains of the S. S. Badger's wake can be seen in the right side of the photograph leading back to the harbor. Follow it all the way to shore and you can spot the Manitowoc Breakwater Lighthouse again; the small white dot right above the top of the sailboat.


Stateroom on the S. S. Badger

We reserved a stateroom on the S. S. Badger ferryboat. It's a few bucks extra and admittedly somewhat of an unnecessary extravagance. However it's a four-hour crossing and that's a long time to try to keep oneself busy. The the boat is only so big. This little stateroom provided a quiet place to get away from the crowded common areas and take a short nap.

Readers who have an interest in ferries might also want to check my Ferry Index page.