The iconic Lake Michigan car ferry Badger has been providing reliable service between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, since its maiden voyage on March 21, 1953. Originally built as an ice-breaking ferry hauling railroad freight cars, the Badger now transports passengers, automobiles, recreational vehicles, motor coaches, and commercial vehicles including standard-size tractor/trailers and specialized oversized load trailers. The Badger is the last surviving operational example of a large network of railroad ferries crossing Lake Michigan that had once provided a time-saving shortcut for freight shippers, bypassing the long, circuitous route around the bottom of the lake through Chicago's railyards. Today, the Badger performs a different role, saving time, fuel, and mileage for regional tourists and cross-country travelers, and has been designated the continuance route of US Highway 10. Currently under the ownership of Interlake Maritime Services, the historic 410-foot-long ferry begins its seventh decade of service, continuing to bring joy and adventure to new generations of riders as it contributes to the economic vitality of the cities of Ludington and Manitowoc and surrounding regions.
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