Denny Anspach <danspachmd@...>

Tim O’C pointed the way to Blair Koostra’s absolutely excellent photo memoire of travels on the SS BADGER, and he captures its life and culture just as we experienced it two days ago.  His photo of the Captain with his hands on the engine room telegraphs had to be taken when he was conning the ship in reverse into its berth, probably in Manitowoc. He did this from a station on the stern.  With the Unaflow engines, he could manouver by ordering one engine FORWARD and the other REVERSE .  Absolute wonder for a steamship..  I read where the Chief Engineer commented that he could have no better privilege than working with such fine machinery. He also has photos of its twin SPARTAN, which serves as a parts donor, and is berthed adjacent  in Ludington..  I often wonder whether at some point, the SPARTAN will gain a new life to give the BADGER a rest. 

The amount of freight car tonnage across Lake Michigan was huge (but dwarfed by tonnage through Chicago).  The principal rail Wisconsin ports included  Kewanee (GB&W), Manitowoc (C&NW)  and Milwaukee (GTW).   Michigan’s ports included St. Ignace (DSS&A), Mackinaw City (PRR & NYC), Frankfort (Ann Arbor),  Ludington (Pere Marquette), Grand Haven (Pere Marquette/C&O, GTW?), and Muskegon (GTW, Pere Marquette, PRR?).  There may have been others at times (Escanaba?), but my defining source, George Hilton’s tome on the Great Lakes Car Ferries is far away.  
 furtherThese ferries were built for year-round service, and many were designed for routine ice breaking.  One ferry loaded to the gills SS MILWAUKEE lies on the bottom about three miles off Milwaukee after sinking in a storm in c. 1930 or 31.  Here lies a real time warp collection of Steam Era Freight Cars, preserved quietly in the fresh water depths for almost 90 years!

One of the earliest successful ice breaking railroad car ferries, SS SAINTE MARIE, served  as the model for the famed Lake Baikal (Siberia) ice breaking car ferry SS BAIKAL, built in England, but assembled on the shores of the lake  to fill the last gap in the Trans Siberian Railroad (the latter was not as successful because Lake Baikal’s ice -different water chemistry- did not break up in the same manner as that on Lake Michigan.  A few years ago, I found still at Port Baikal (Siberia)  BAIKAL’s original slip with gantries, etc. , although in ruins). 

What great modeling opportunities!


Denny S. Anspach MD
Okoboji, IA

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