Lake Michigan Crossings on the S.S. Badger Will Return in 2024

Lake Michigan Crossings on the S.S. Badger Will Return in 2024

Ludington SS Badger Close up 2024

Last year was supposed to be a big year for Ludington’s S.S. Badger car and passenger ferry as it celebrated 70 years. The last coal-fired passenger steamship still operating in the United States, the Badger is 410 feet long and seven stories tall. Able to carry 600 passengers and almost 200 vehicles, this ship makes daily trips between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The 2023 sailing season was cut short for this historic vessel in July when a piece of docking equipment was damaged and repairs were needed. Work started on repairs in November and Lake Michigan Carferry remains optimistic things will be ready to go for summer trips as their website now reads: “Reservations can be made online for crossings starting on Friday, June 14. The hard work to repair the dock continues. Once we announce our official opening date for the 2024 season, earlier crossings in May and June may open up – so stay tuned for updates!”

Ludington Pierhead Light SS Badger Lake Michigan

A news update from LMC gave a little more background into what went wrong: “Work started days later to begin the process of constructing two new counterweight structures for the carferry’s ramp system. On July 21, the counterweight structure on the port side failed, which rendered the ramp non-operational and caused an abrupt end to the Badger’s 70th season. LMC has engaged key Great Lakes marine partners to lead the construction effort for the extensive project. Al Bufka Construction Inc. from Manistee is expected to be onsite this week to start site preparation and demolition of the port side counterweight. The King Construction Co., out of Holland, Mich., and Underwater Construction Corporation, from its regional office in Michigan, are striving to complete the extensive below-water work prior to the onset of winter ice formation. The full-scale project is expected to take several months to complete.”

SS Badger Ludington Under Construction

When we visited the area in February we saw a large crane parked next to the Badger and signs of lots of work taking place. The boat looks sharp and ready to go, and thousands of people likely can’t wait for these memorable trips to resume.

Ludington Maritime Heritage Trail Carferries

A Ludington Maritime Heritage Trail sign in the marina parking lot gives a lot of background into Lake Michigan carferries and includes some historic photographs. You can stay up to date with news regarding the 2024 sailing season for the Badger on the LMC website or Facebook page. In addition to the daily crossings (which cover 60 miles and take about four hours), the Badger also occasionally offers shoreline cruises while in Manitowoc.