SS Badger out for season; ramp system damaged

The coal-powered SS Badger (Denise Stocker/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A historic ferry that carries traffic across Lake Michigan between Michigan and Wisconsin is out of service for the rest of the season after its ramp system was damaged in July, the vessel's operators said.

The S.S. Badger's daily crossings between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, were suspended indefinitely by operator Lake Michigan Carferry after the ramp system failed July 21.

On Tuesday, parent company Interlake Maritime Services announced that the ferry would not resume operation this sailing season because damage to the ramp's counterweight system requires months of repairs.

"This is a very complicated process and one that will not be complete in time to resume service this season," Sara Spore, general manager of Lake Michigan Carferry, said in a news release.

The release said a counterweight structure on the port side of the ferry’s ramp system failed on July 21. Divers, marine construction contractors and an engineering firm later determined it will take months to clear the collapsed structure and erect a new one.

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The S.S. Badger, which can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles, including RVs, motorcycles, motor coaches and commercial trucks, began its sailing season on May 18 and was scheduled to run daily crossings until Oct. 9.

The vessel, designated a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1953 by Christy Corp. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for C&O Railway Co.