I have enjoyed exploring the history of Lake Michigan and finding books in the independent bookstores that I've visited about all aspects of the lake. One fascinating book I found in Frankfort, Michigan, tells the story of the fleet of massive ferries that for 90 years took loaded train cars across the lake. Beginning in 1892, the Ann Arbor Car Ferries ran between Frankfort and Kewaunee, Wisconsin, a distance of 62 miles. These ferries even continued during the winter, breaking the ice as they crossed.
Grant Brown, Jr., is the author of this book, Ninety Years Crossing Lake Michigan, a fascinating account of these boats and their crews.
Many of these ships are at the bottom of the lake, victims of ice or storms on the unforgiving lake. One of the ships still survives, though, and is docked in Manistee, Michigan. The 'City of Milwaukee' is over 70 years old but is still in great shape and is open to tour.
Details at www.carferry.com
This summer, the crew quarters on the top of the ferry will be converted into a bed and breakfast. You can stay on board overnight in this piece of floating history and learn about the ship and the history of taking trains across the water.
I had a great time touring this living piece of history, and was pleased to meet the people who so lovingly continue to restore the ship and share it with all who visit.