- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) - A passenger ship that once hauled rail cars across Lake Michigan has been designated as a national historic landmark.

The U.S. Department of the Interior on Thursday announced the designation for the Ludington-based SS Badger, the last Great Lakes car ferry still in operation.

Rail car ferries operated on the lakes for nearly a century. It was a particularly important method of getting cars to the congested railroad yards at Chicago.

The 410-foot-long Badger handled that task from 1953 to 1990. It was later converted to a car and passenger ferry and now makes daily trips between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, from mid-May through mid-October.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvin says the Badger is “a unique example of American ingenuity in transportation” that helped fuel 20th century economic growth.

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