Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Badger
by Max Hanley
The S.S. Badger was the last coal fired, steam powered passenger ship built in the United States, and the last still operating on the Great Lakes. She was built by Christy Corporation of Sturgeon Bay, WI for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1952 at a cost of $5 million. She is powered by two Skinner Unaflow Steam engines, generating a combined 7,000 horsepower. By the mid 70s, the C&O was no longer interested in operating carferries because of the rising costs of maintenance, labor, and fuel. After years of abandonment hearings before the Interstate Commerce Commission, the C&O sold the Badger and it's 2 other carferries to the newly formed Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company. MWT struggled to keep the carferries running until finally on November 16th, 1990 the Badger made her final trip.
It seemed that the nearly 100 years of Lake Michigan carferry service had finally come to an end until retired businessman Charles Conrad purchased the three carferries and launched a new company, Lake Michigan Carferry, one that was aimed at the passenger business. After a lay-up of a year and a half, the newly renovated S.S. Badger set sail again on May 15th, 1992.
Today, the S.S. Badger makes daily sailings between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI, carrying passengers, automobiles, and semi-trailers during the summer months.
Overall dimensions Length 410'06" Beam 59'06" Depth 24'00" Capacity (Passengers/autos) 620/180 Engine Horsepower Combined 7000