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Great Memories of the SS Badger

My grandparents lived in Kewaunee, and when I was a small boy and we visited them, my younger brother and I spent most of our time at the canal, usually seeing the Badger or Spartan moored with train activity at the rear. 

One time when we arrived there, one of the ships was being loaded as the other one was outside the harbor, making circles as it waited to come in. We not only saw one leave but also saw the second one come in and back its way alongside the dock. It sure made the day for two small boys to see. 

When we were older and had bikes, we would go across the bridge for a better view of the train cars being moved in and out of the ships. 

My dad once told us about a car ferry that sank in a bad storm on Lake Michigan. According to him, the ship began to take on water, and the captain made a decision to raise the back protective shield and try to push off some rail cars to lighten the load. As the cars were moved to the back edge with the shield up, it made things worse. Water poured in so fast, the ship sank. 

I do not know whether he was talking about the Pere Marquette that sank in September 1910 – YouTube has a great video of this sunken ship that was recently found. It could also have been the train car–hauling ferry, the Milwaukee, which sank in a severe storm on Lake Michigan. 

Lastly, I was going through old home videos and found one from the early ’80s in which my wife and I were leaving Kewaunee on the Badger. This was our first cruise ever. 

The Badger sure has given me some great memories over the years and continues to do so with its arrival in Sturgeon Bay.

Bob Ouradnik

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin