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Railroad Car Ferry Menu

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Michigan Railroad car ferries served the Great Lakes for over 100 years, acting as a moveable bridge between Michigan railroad terminals and their counterpart in other states and Canada.  The only railroad car ferry boat still in operation is the Badger from Ludington but it no longer carries railroad cars, must passengers and their motor vehicles.

Cross Lake Michigan.  The majority of railroad car ferry operations criss-crossed Lake Michigan between the ports of Elberta, Ludington, Muskegon and Grand Haven, and were operated by the Pere Marquette, Grand Trunk Western and the Ann Arbor Railroad.

To The Upper Penninsula.  Two main routes were used to move railroad cars back and forth between Michigan's penninsula's.  The most prominent route was the short distance between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, delivering cars between the NYC and PRR to the DSS&A to the north.  The other UP route was between Elberta (and Northport) to Manistique for delivery to the Manistique and Lake Superior Railroad.

Detroit to Canada.  The third area of railroad car ferry traffic was the crossings between Michigan and Canada.  These crossings started in Grosse Isle, Detroit, Marine City or Port Huron.  Much of the international traffic was diverted with the building of both the St. Clair River Tunnel and the Detroit-Windsor railroad tunnel, but high loads and dangerous chemicals continued to travel by car ferry or barge well into the 1990's.  

Michigan Railroad Ports...


Port of Alabaster

  • Detroit & Mackinac

  • Erie Navagation

Port of Alpena

  • Alpena & Northern

  • Detroit & Mackinac

Port of Ashland, Wisconsin

  • C&NW Ore Dock

  • DSS&A Ore Dock

Port of Bay City

  • Detroit & Mackinac

  • Grand Trunk Western

  • Michigan Central

  • Pere Marquette

Port Calcite

Port of Detroit:

  • Grand Trunk Western (rail car ferry)

  • Michigan Central (rail car ferry)

  • Pere Marquette (rail car ferry)

  • Wabash (rail car ferry)

Port Dolmite

Port of Escanaba

  • Chicago & Northwestern

  • Escanaba & Lake Superior

  • Soo Line

Port of Elberta (Frankfort):

  • Ann Arbor (rail car ferry)

Port of Gladstone

Port of Grand Haven:

  • Grand Trunk Western (rail car ferry)

Port of Grosse Isle:

  • Michigan Central/Canada Southern (rail car ferry)

Port of Hancock

Port of Houghton

Port of Ludington:

  • Pere Marquette (rail car ferry)

Port of Mackinaw City:

  • Mackinac Transportation Company (rail car ferry)

Port of Manistique:

  • Manistique and Lake Superior (rail car ferry)

Port of Marine City:

  • Michigan Central/Canada Southern (rail car ferry)

Port of Marquette

Port of Monroe

Port of Muskegon:

  • Grand Trunk Western (rail car ferry)

  • Pere Marquette (rail car ferry)

Port of Northport:

  • Manistique and Lake Superior (rail car ferry)

Port of Port Huron:

  • CSX/C&O (rail car ferry)

  • Grand Trunk (rail car ferry)

  • Pere Marquette (rail car ferry)

Port of Presque Isle

Port Rockport

Port of Saginaw

Port of St. Ignace:

  • Mackinac Transportation Company (rail car ferry)

Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.