The Badger steams on

S.S. Badger - Ludington Mi.

S.S. Badger – Ludington Mi., photo by RJE

NPR has a feature on the upgrades to the SS Badger that allow the car ferry to continue to operate between Michigan and Wisconsin on Lake Michigan:

A slice of history sails across Lake Michigan, carrying cars between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis. It’s the SS Badger: the largest coal-fired passenger ship still operating in the United States.

For years, the ship was the focus of environmental scrutiny because of its practice of dumping waste coal ash directly into the lake. The pollution nearly stopped the Badger from steaming again — but now, the ash-dumping has ended.

…After decades of letting the Badger pollute the lake, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an ultimatum: Stop dumping or be grounded.

Finally, this off-season, the boat’s owner installed a $2 million solution: a set of blue pipes that collect ash each trip, about 500 tons per year. Once a week, that ash gets trucked to Charlevoix, Mich., for use in making cement products.

You can get all the info on the Badger right here. For an added dose of awesome in your day, check out The Steamer 43 Song by Pete Host, featuring photos of the SS Badger on Absolute Michigan. It’s from a 45 Pete recorded in the early 70s about a sailors life on the C&O carferries out of Ludington, Michigan. With his spare time aboard the Badger, he learned how to play the guitar, and in just a few months, went to Milwaukee Wis. and recorded this song.

View the photo bigger and see a couple more of R.J.E.’s photos of Ludington, Michigan.

More Michigan ships and boats on Michigan in Pictures.