Holding company buys Lake Michigan car ferry SS Badger

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LUDINGTON — A coal-fired ferry that carries people and cars across Lake Michigan between Michigan and Wisconsin has been sold.

Interlake Holding Co. announced last week that it bought the SS Badger, The Ludington Daily News reported.

The Middleburg Heights, Ohio-based company also purchased a mothballed ferry called the SS Spartan and the Lake Michigan Carferry and Pere Marquette Shipping companies.

“I think we’ve always been interested in the Pere Marquette and the Badger,” said Mark Barker, Interlake president. “We’re just excited to acquire this vessel and this operation. It is really iconic and historic.”

The 410-foot (125-meter) SS Badger launched in 1952 and hauled railcars across Lake Michigan from 1953-90. It was converted into a car and passenger ferry and can carry 600 people and 180 vehicles.

It now operates between Ludington in western Michigan and Manitowoc in Wisconsin and was designated a national historic landmark in 2016.

“We’re keeping most of the employees,” Barker said. “It’s a great operation, and it’s our goal to continue that operation in Ludington.”

The SS Badger, the other ships and the car ferry and shipping companies had been owned by Bob Manglitz, Don Clingan and Jim Anderson.

“The communities of Manitowoc and Ludington and the people have a sense of ownership in the Badger,” Manglitz said after the sale. “It was like nothing I have ever been involved with.”

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