Coal-Fired Ship Designated Historic Landmark
The U.S. Department of the Interior has designated the coal-fired car ferry SS Badger as a National Historic Landmark. The designation recognizes the Badger’s exceptional value and quality in illustrating an aspect of American transportation technology in the mid-twentieth century.
The SS Badger is the last remaining example of the Great Lakes rail/car ferry design that influenced the design of such ferries around the world and is the last Great Lakes car ferry to remain in operation.
The 410-foot-long car ferry was built and launched in 1952. Owned and operated by Lake Michigan Carferry, it runs between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc.
The first open-water crossing on which rail cars were carried onboard occurred on Lake Michigan. For nearly a century, railroad car ferries extended rail lines across three of the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan. During that period, the difficulty of arranging trackage rights on roads, the distance around the southern end of the lake and congestion in the rail yards at Chicago all made the transport of railcars across the lake a more efficient and economical alternative.
“The SS Badger is a unique example of American ingenuity in transportation that has been crucial to our country’s economic development over the last century,” says National Park Service Director, Jonathan B. Jarvis. “As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial anniversary, we look forward to a second century of helping preserve the more than 2,500 historic places and objects like the Badger that bear the distinction of being National Historic Landmarks.”
The National Historic Landmarks program, established in 1935, is administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.
Length: 410 feet, 6 inches
Width: 59 feet, 6 inches
Height: 106 feet, 9 inches (7 stories)
Weight: 6650 tons displaced
Amenities: Outside deck areas, deli-style snack bar, buffet-style dining area, private staterooms, upper deck lounge, aft end lounge, video arcade, children's playroom, gift shop/ship's store, free quiet room/museum, two free TV lounges, free movie lounge!
Propellers: Two cast steel, 4-blade propellers, 13' 10'' in diameter and weighing 13,800 pounds each
Anchors: Two Stockless anchors weighing 7,000 pounds each
Engines: Two Skinner Unaflow four-cylinder steam engines rated 3,500 horsepower at 125 RPM (total 7,000 horsepower). The Badger's propulsion system burns domestic fuel, and is designated as a mechanical engineering landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Boilers: Four Foster-Wheeler "D - type" coal-burning
Average speed: 18 miles per hour (15.6 knots)
Number of crew members on each trip: 50-60
Capacity: 600 passengers, 180 automobiles, tour buses, RVs, motorcycles, and commercial trucks
Number of crossings per season: Approx. 450
Years in service: Built and launched in 1952; began daily service on March 21, 1953