Manitowoc and the Car Ferries. In the first five decades of the 20th century, Lake Michigan railroad car ferry service aided national defense and the regional economy by providing a key transportation alternative to the railroad bottle neck in Chicago. At the Port of Manitowoc, where car ferries were the major cargo carriers, Manitowoc shipbuilders constructed eleven car ferries and maintained, repaired, and remodeled many more. Five of these ships were built for the Pere Marquette Line which later evolved into the Lake Michigan Carferry Service.
S.S. Badger. Built by the Christy Corporation of Sturgeon Bay in 1952, the S.S. Badger is the last of fourteen Ludington, Michigan-based car ferries still crossing Lake Michigan. Commissioned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, the S.S. Badger, named for the University of Wisconsin athletic teams, provided passenger and freight service between Manitowoc and Ludington. After railroad car ferry service declined, the Lake Michigan Carferry Service purchased and renovated the S.S. Badger in 1992. Today, the ferry transports truck freight, automobiles and passengers.