Two Car ferries, an LST and one Lighthouse

The Badger gathering offers a number of opportunities for boatwatchers to explore some of Western Michigan's nautical treasures

Here are some images taken last weekend aboard the museum ships City of Milwaukee (Manistee, Mich.) and Milwaukee Clipper (Muskegon, Mich.).

Both vessels are open to the public for tours. The Milwaukee Clipper is currently being repainted, while the City of Milwaukee is scheduled for a paint job later this summer. Other restoration work is ongoing aboard both vessels and volunteers are always welcome. The City of Milwaukee is scheduled to be moved this fall to a new berth at the site of the current Moonlight Motel and Marina on U.S. 31 just north of downtown. Moving closer to busy U.S. 31 is expected to draw more visitors to the car ferry.

The City of Milwaukee was launched on Nov. 25, 1930, and was built to replace the S.S. Milwaukee, which foundered during a severe storm in 1929.

The vessel sailed under the Grand Trunk Railroad the majority of its career but was leased and operated by other railroads around Lake Michigan over the decades.

The ship was retired in operable condition in 1981 and was docked in Elberta, Mich., for many years until the village council ordered it removed to make way for new waterfront development. The vessel was invited across the bay to Frankfort, but draft restrictions required the boat's owners to move it to Manistee, where she now resides.

For more information, visit
Reported by Roger LeLievre and Dave Wobser

City of Milwaukee, Manistee

City of Milwaukee at her present location. She will be moving to a new dock nearer downtown sometime this fall. Crews are expected to start repainting her hull this summer.

City of Milwaukee at dock – Another view.

Original, 1931 builder’s plate, and plaque commemorating City of Milwaukee’s status as National Historic Landmark (1990)

Forward superstructure.

Pilothouse view.

Patrick Brandon, carferry veteran and City of Milwaukee board member, pauses in the pilothouse. He spends almost every weekend working on restoration of the vessel.

City of Milwaukee’s twin stacks and port lifeboat.

Roll-top desk in the Captain’s quarters.

Dining room, with skylight.

Galley, showing the old-fashioned cook stove.

Galley – Another view
Main galley.

Passenger dining.

Officer's mess.

Crews mess.

Crew hallway.

Passenger lounge.

Passenger hallway.

Engine dept. bunks.

Flicker (crews quarters). Bedrooms for crewmembers open off this central room below the car deck.
Another view

Engine room telegraph. The City of Milwaukee is powered by two side-by-side, triple expansion steam engines.

Car deck.

Another view.

Illustration shows how railcars were secured on the City of Milwaukee’s car deck.  

Close up

Wheel stand.

Another view

Chart room.

Captain's room.

Captain's bunk.

Passenger bunks.

View aft from chart room.

Forward deck.

Anchor windlass.

Aft looking forward.

Milwaukee Clipper, Muskegon

The Milwaukee Clipper was built in 1905 as the passenger steamer Juniata for the Anchor Line (predating Titanic by seven years). In 1937, when new safety features were instituted for passenger, the Juniata was retired from service because of her wooden cabins. In 1940, the superstructure was replaced by an all steel, streamlined, and fireproof superstructure, the first design of its type in the world. The new ship featured air conditioned staterooms, a children's playroom, a movie theater, and live entertainment, complete with dance floor. On June 2, 1941 her name was changed to  Milwaukee Clipper. She served the cross-lake trade carrying passengers and cars on Lake Michigan until 1970. A number of plans for the Clipper fell through in the 1980s and early 1990s, including a bid to convert her to a casino and Hammond, Ind.

In 1997 the Great Lakes Clipper Preservation Association was formed, dedicated to preserving the steamer.

For more information, visit
Reported by Roger LeLievre and Dave Wobser

Welcome sign, recently restored.

Milwaukee Clipper at her Muskegon dock undergoing repainting.

pilot house.

Upper deck.

Another view.

Triple-chime steam whistle.

The Clipper’s Chadburn and radar.

Antique radar set dates from the late1940s.

Inlaid tile offers a Clipper profile.

Milwaukee Clipper’s Art Deco-style bar was the ultimate in Great Lakes elegance.

The Clipper’s dance floor, complete with decorative seahorses!

Dance floor.

Chairs and table with inlaid design.

30-gallon coffee makers.

Soda Bowl.
Lounge chairs and other furniture on the ship were designed and built by Warren McArthur, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The green chairs were often referred to as "sleepy hollow" chairs... comfortable but difficult to get out of.

110-seat movie theater.

Children's play area.

Bunks in a state room.

Restored passenger seating.

LST 393 also serves as a marine museum in Muskegon. The WW2-era craft ­ which also saw service as the car carrier Highway 16 on Lake Michigan ­ is tied at the Mart Dock.

Big Sable Point Light, Ludington
N. Schultheiss

If you want to try your hand at lighthouse-keeping, Big Sable Point Light, eight miles north of Ludington, inside Ludington State Park, is made to order.

The lighthouse is manned by four couples who volunteer to spend two weeks as light keepers and tour guides.
To reach the light, visitors walk 1.5 miles north along the beach or on a gravel road to the scenic location. The keepers quarters have been beautifully restored and the light is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., May 1 to Oct. 31.

The lower level of the keepers quarters houses a gift shop and many displays show the history of the light. For a small donation visitors may climb the tower and take in an amazing view of the area.

Big Sable Point is the first landfall for vessels heading north out of Chicago. Completed in 1867, the 112-foot tower is painted in black and white horizontal stripes, with a black, 10-sided lantern room. It was automated in 1968. Its original Third-Order Fresnel lens is on display in the Rose Hawley Museum in downtown Ludington.

1.5 mile walk to the light.

Interrupting breakfast.

On the beach.

Over the dunes.

Through the sand.

View looking west.

Tower was incased in steel as the bricks deteriorated.
Hall way to tower from keepers quarters.

Stair way up.

130 steps later,  the lantern room.

Modern lens has replaced the original 3rd order
Fresnel lens.

Close up

View  is worth the climb.

View down to the keepers quarters.

Looking south.

Capt. Ralph Tucker and Algorail pass off shore.

Fednav ship.

Scenic walk back to the car.



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