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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Lake Superior Car Ferries

Date: 01/29/05 06:01
Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: riff

The car ferry Incan Superior used to ply its trade between Thunder Bay, Ont and Superior, Wisc. That vessel has gone to Vancouver Island service. Why was there car ferry service on Lake Superior? (Seems to be pretty much encircled by rail) Does such service still exist and are there any other car ferries on the Great Lakes? Thanks in advance.....

Date: 01/29/05 06:32
Re: Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: PelletPete

The Incan Superior was owned by a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific and primarily handled paper products from the mills at the Lakehead to the Twin Ports. CN and trucks eventually undercut prices, so the ferry operation ceased and the ship was moved to Vancouver. CP did not have a good rail route from Thunder Bay to Duluth/Superior, so the ferry made sense for the lucrative paper business. The ferry was switched in Superior by the LST&T and later by BN. Today the "Incan Dock" is owned by Hallet Dock Company and has seen some tug/barge moves of lumber from Thunder Bay in recent years. See page 35 of the December CTC Board.

Date: 01/29/05 07:44
Re: Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: riff

Thanks Dave for your informative (and quick) response. This vessel is currently named Princess Superior and owned by Seaspan Coastal intermodal. She is one of two ferries they own which are equipped with rail, the other being a newer vessel named Carrier Princess. These vessels are both equipped for rail cars and trailers. Their website lists one all rail passage to Nanaimo a week. I thought rail on Vancouver Island had pretty much dried up. Are these vessels still carrying rail cars? The other question is about a sister ship of the Incan Suprior, the Incan St Laurent. Although built at the same time to the same specs for the same service, she seems to have fallen off the historical radar screen. I know when she was first built she was used for a short while in Alaska service. Anyone know her subsequent history? Thanks again.

Date: 01/29/05 13:01
Re: Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: pmchenryf1

The car ferry "Badger" has been running between Manitowoc, Wisc. and Ludington, Mi. for some time it's a 1950 coal burning recip steamer. It used to haul RR cars, but now cars, trucks and people. There's a new ferry service starting up out of Milwaukee. I don't have details yet. All this of course on Lake Michigan.

Date: 01/29/05 19:10
Re: Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: toledocentralrr

do a search on google for car ferries of the great lakes or Ann Arbor car ferries and you should get quite a few returns. I looked into this recently myself and found a website with the ferries the operated on the great Lakes and the ferries that are still active. It also had ferry disasters of the great Lakes.

Date: 01/30/05 07:58
Re: Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: kschmidt626


The "Lake Express" carferry service started running from Milwaukee, WI to Muskego, MI in May 2004. It was very successful in its first year. Most of the trips were sold out. The trip takes 2 1/2 hrs instead of having to drive through Chicago traffic to get to the other side. I rode it once, it was a windy day and rough on the lake. The Lake Express travels at about 40mph across the lake. It carries about 40 cars and couple hundred people.

Attached is a photo of the "Lake Express" carferry about to dock in Milwaukee.

See more photos at

Date: 01/30/05 18:18
Re: Lake Superior Car Ferries
Author: rdsexton

A very good site is www.boatnerd.com, a site for the foamers who specialize in tracking Great Lakes shipping. There is also a fascinating video clip showing a rotary caol unloading operation. Check it out.

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