S.S. Badger is one of fourteen ships that served in the Ludington railroad car ferry fleet. Badger and its sister ship S.S. Spartan, were built in 1952 by the Christy Corporation of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C & 0). Named for the athletic teams of the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, the boats were a vital commercial link between the two states. The ferries joined the fleet begun in 1897 by the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad. Car ferry traffic peaked in the 1950s, then declined steadily. In 1983 the C & 0 sold off the last of its fleet, including Badger, and Spartan. Badger, newly renovated in 1992, resumed automobile, truck freight and passenger service between Ludington and Manitowac.