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Published in Economic Development
The 410-foot S.S. Badger was among the assets acquired by Interlake Holding Co. The 410-foot S.S. Badger was among the assets acquired by Interlake Holding Co. SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

S.S. Badger — iconic cross-lake car ferry in Ludington — sold to Ohio firm

BY MIBIZ STAFF Wednesday, December 30, 2020 08:40pm

LUDINGTON — The historic S.S. Badger car ferry that crosses Lake Michigan between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. is under new ownership. 

On Wednesday, the Middleburg Heights, Ohio-based Interlake Holding Co. acquired the assets of Ludington-based Lake Michigan Car Ferry Co., the owner and operator of the S.S. Badger, according to a statement. The deal also included the assets of Ludington-based Pere Marquette Shipping Co., which included the “workhorse” articulated tug-barge Undaunted-Pere Marquette 41.

The buyer also created Interlake Maritime Services, a new entity that will manage the newly acquired businesses along with The Interlake Steamship Company, which operates a fleet of nine freighters on the Great Lakes. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“There are many synergies between our family-owned and operated companies and this deal was a good fit for all of us from the beginning,” Pere Marquette Shipping and Lake Michigan Car Ferry President Robert Manglitz said in a statement. “It was critical for us to find not only a highly committed and capable vessel operator but also a company that shared our culture of putting its employees and customers first.”

Interlake Holding President Mark Barker said the company is “fully committed” to continuing the S.S. Badger’s cross-lake passenger, car and truck service. The vessel serves as the connection along the U.S. 10 highway in Michigan and Wisconsin. 

“As a maritime company, we understand how important the Badger connection between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis. is to those communities,” Barker said in a statement. 

The S.S. Badger began serving as a passenger and car transporter in 1992, two years after its service as a train car ferry ended. The coal-fired, 410-foot vessel was built in 1952 and is a designated National Historic Landmark. It has a capacity of 600 people and 180 automobiles, according the company’s website.

Lake Michigan Car Ferry Vice President Don Clingan called the sale as “another milestone” in the ship’s history, describing Interlake Holdings as “a highly qualified new owner who will extend the legacy of the Badger into the future for both port cities of Ludington and Manitowoc.”

Undaunted-Pere Marquette 41, which is based out of Ludington on Pere Marquette Lake, carries a range of cargo such as large stone for breakwalls, pig iron and scrap. 

“We are adding capacity and assets in areas that our customers have identified a need for,” Interlake’s Barker said. “This is a market we have been looking at for some time and this strategic acquisition will allow us to participate in it with a proven asset and a respected customer base.”

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