The first all-steel railroad carferry, Pere Marquette 15, made its first crossing between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin on this day in 1897. The ferry, built by F.W. Wheeler & Company of Bay City, departed on the evening of the 16th, and arrived in Manitowoc at 7 a.m. the following day. She carried twenty-two freight cars, the private car of the Flint & Pere Marquette’s General Manager, other railroad dignitaries, and a brass band. The Pere Marquette went on to have a successful thirty-eight year career with only a few minor accidents.
For a time rail car ferries were all the rage on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, as well as some rivers. Transporting up to 30 fully loaded railroad cars, ferries could trim time off the commute by avoiding the busy Chicago railroad terminal.
Historical Society of Michigan and Wikipedia Commons.
Source : Michigan Historical Calendar, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.
Zlati Meyer, “World’s first all-steel car ferry debuted in Michigan”, Detroit Free Press, February 14, 2015.
Brandon Champion, “First-of-its-kind Pere Marquette car ferry made maiden voyage on this day in 1897”, MLive, February 16, 2016.