Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Slow boat to Manitowoc (Ludington, MI - Part 2)

I have been a Great Lakes ferry geek since my Grandfather booked passage for us on the SS Norisle from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island when I was maybe 11 years old.  So I had to see the Badger pull out of Ludington headed toward Manitowoc on one of its summer evening runs, loaded down with cars, hopeful star-gazers, and Bingo players (I'm told).  It's 60 miles and four hours across the lake.

But the piper on the aft deck blows a mournful Retreat...the Badger's crossings are numbered.  As it plies the water it stirs controversy.  Its 1950's technology burns dirty, dumping 4 tons of coal ash in the lake every time it sails, and is in the EPA's crosshairs.

(Big 10 conference fans note:  Sister ship SS Spartan has been tied down at an adjacent dock for more than 30 years, supplying spare parts.)

Here's recent coverage...  New York Times  (last Novemeber)Chicago Tribune  (this March)

If it's clear, you can see the Badger all the way to the horizon, where it becomes a smear of coal soot; on this night, probably adding a bit of color to the sunset.

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