Sunday morning we left early navigating 28 miles to Ludington, Michigan. Kent likes these short days and I like arriving at port early enough to enjoy the town. Our original plans were to stay several days as the kids were planning on coming across on the S.S. Badger. Their plans have changed and they are coming to Muskegon on the Lake Express, so we will only be staying one night in Ludington.
Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any state in America, of its 129 lighthouse 44 are on Lake Michigan. Big Sable Point Light is on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan near Ludington originally built-in 1867 and the first lighthouse congress approved. It’s a 112 foot tower and the second tallest on its eastern shore being one of the oldest continuously working in the state. Big Sable Point Light was originally made of so-called Cream City Bricks that deteriorated and in 1900 the lighthouse was covered with steel boiler plates. The Lighthouse was painted red and white at one time and later to become black and white. It’s the last Great Lakes Lighthouse to get electricity and plumbing in the late 1940s which eliminated the lighthouse keepers job. The original third order Fresnel lens was removed in 1985 and is now on display at the Rose Hawley Museum. Lighthouses on this trip have fascinated me with their different colors, designed, and history.
We arrived at the port entrance of Ludington with a generous protected basin, short channel, and several beautiful marinas. We passed by the Ludington 57 foot lighthouse at the end of the break water on the Perl Marquette harbor. The station was established in 1871 and this light was first lit in 1924 and automated in 1972. The original Fourth Order Fresnel lens was removed in 1995 and on display at Historic White Pine Village.
Ludington was originally named Perl Marquette and later renamed after james Ludington the industrialist whose logging operations developed the village. The area boom in the late 19th century due to the saw mills and the discovery of salt deposits. Ludington became a major Great Lake shipping port. In 1897 the F&PM railroad constructed the first steel car ferry the Perl Marquette which was the beginning of the rail cargo ferries crossing Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. By the mid 1950s Ludington became the largest car ferry port in the world. Unfortunately due to disuse and declining industry this fleet eventual dwindled. Currently the SS Badger is the few car ferry making regular trips across the lake. During the 1910’s and early 1920s Ludington was the home of the Ludington Mariners minor league baseball team.
Once we were docked in our assigned slip I took the bus to the local grocery store to pick up the last needed items for when our kids come. You have to take advantage of every close grocery store, when you can.
Kent and I walked down town to Sportsman Irish Pub recommend by Johnny from “Anchor Down” for their great chicken wings. Now Kent can’t pass up good chicken wings. “Thanks Johnny, they were good.”
On our walk back to the marina we stopped at “Biercamp Market” a specialty grocery and meat shops with fresh produce, coffee bar, pastries, plus a full service bar serving wine, beer, and cocktails. Now this is Kent kinds of grocery shopping. They even have carts with a place to put your drink as you grocery shop.
When we returned to the boat we found this nice welcome bag from Becky Magee (True North) a gold looper. There boat is in Florida and their home is in Ludington. I was sorry we missed her, it would have been nice to personally Thank her and learn about their great adventure on the loop. Thanks you so much Becky for your great hospitality.
On our way to watch the S.S. Badger we walked through the waterfront park with its abundance of park area, which is home to nice bronze statues illustrating the life culture and history of Ludington and Mason county.
It was amazing to see the S.S. Badger come into the harbor getting bigger the closer she got with her stack belching black smoke and then to hear the monster anchor chain as the anchor is lowered into the water. The channel is so narrow that by dropping the anchor they can spin the boat around. We watched as she turned around and backed up so gracefully to the dock. Kent and I have now added taking a ride on the S.S. Badger to our bucket list in the future.
TheS.S. Badger is the largest car ferry ever to sail Lake Michigan, she is 410′ long and was put into service in 1953. The Badger was designed specifically to handle the rough conditions and reliable shortcut across the huge inland sea. She was the only coal-fired steamship in operation in the United States and now operates on domestic fuel. The S.S. Badger was built primarily to transport railroad freight cars, but with superior passenger accommodations and reigned as Queen of the Lakes during the car ferries Golden Era in the late fifties. In 1990 the Badger tied up for the last time in Ludington due to the lack of railroad freight business and not into serving the needs of vacation travelers. This was devastating to the community it served. The Badger was back in business in 1991 when Charles Conrad committed his own financial resources and reinvented the S.S.Badger to carry leisure passengers and their vehicles.
Kent and I had nice walk back to the boat and were invited on Katy and Bills boat (Almost Heaven) loopers. We had a nice visit with them they are from TX and will finish the loop this year.