It had tracks, and it carried FREIGHT CARS so how could moderators object?
FYI Blair Kooistra, renowned rail photographer (and BNSF dispatcher) and author,
rode the ship across the lake a couple of years ago and posted his album of photos...
Yesterday, I enjoyed for the first time in many years crossing Lake Michigan on the ex-C&O railroad car ferry SS BADGER, one of the last, or perhaps THE last steam powered large passenger ship still operating in this country- coal fired to boot. .It is a National Historic Landmark, It was exhilarating to come up to the ship in Ludington MI with coal smoke drifting from its funnel, the fires being stoked for departure an hour later. The Steeple Compound Skinner Unaflow engines were silent, and the ship was handled in quite traditional manner with engine room telegraphs (Chadburns) , and dock manouvers were done by dropping an anchors as pivot, rather than using side thrusters. The tracks for 30+ steam era freight car are still inset into the car deck. There was a fair sea, and the passage was characterized by mild but definite rolling and pitching. The ship was packed to the gills with happy people enjoying the cruise, and not missing at all the grueling 300 mile trip through the Chicago.
The era of vast amounts of rail freight moving across Lake Michigan c. 1895-1982 had to be exciting, with at least ten or more ships designed for this service. C&O and Ann Arbor were the biggest operators.
The steam horn (a Super Tyfon I believe) sent shivers up my back.
I am talking fast before our Moderators send me packing.
Denny S. Anspach MD