By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 13, 2022 at 11:03 AM

According to Wisconsin Marine Historical Society’s Door County correspondent, the SS Badger car ferry has left the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding yard, bound for its home port of Ludington, Michigan.

The ferry, which connects Manitowoc with Ludington, left the yard in Sturgeon Bay on Wednesday, Jan. 12. It departed at 2:20 p.m., “under tow by the Sarter tug William C. Gaynor,” the WMHS reported in an email Thursday.

“It passed under all three Sturgeon Bay bridges, through the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and out into Lake Michigan on course for its home port of Ludington, Michigan.”

According to social media posts, the Badger reached Ludington by early Thursday morning.

The Badger was at Fincantieri since mid-November for a complete hull sandblasting and repainting – that’s 800 gallons of paint applied by more than a dozen painters over 12 days – and its five-year U.S. Coast Guard dry dock inspection.

The 410-foot Badger ended its 2021 sailing season in mid-October.

The WMHS shares this history of the vessel:

“SS Badger was built in Sturgeon Bay by Christy Corporation in 1953 for the C&O Railroad. The vessel’s name came from the University of Wisconsin Badgers Football Team. She originally carried up to 34 railroad cars, 150 passenger cars as well as 400 passengers.

“Due to sagging railroad traffic, the Badger did not run during the 1991 season. At that time, she was remodeled by her new owner Charles Conrad to better serve the tourist trade. The vessel has run between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin ever since. She has carried her name thoughout her 68 years.”

Read more history of the Badger, which was launched in 1952, here, and read about its sister ship The Spartan here.

The Badger – whose route is part of US Highway 10 – is now taking reservations for the 2022 sailing season, slated to begin May 12.

The vessel was docked for about a week in August after a crew member contracted COVID-19, boosting demand for the Lake Express ferry, which travels between Milwaukee and Muskegon.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.