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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Mackinaw City in Cheboygan County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Michigan State Ferry System / Michigan State Car Ferries

 
 
Michigan State Ferry System<br>(<i>marker side 1 • faces east</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 19, 2011
1. Michigan State Ferry System
(marker side 1 • faces east)
Inscription.  
Michigan State Ferry System (side 1)
In 1923, in response to increasing automobile traffic, the Michigan Highway Department established the Michigan State Ferry System to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas by transporting travelers and their automobiles across the Straits of Mackinac. During the first year, the ferry Ariel, with a capacity of 15 to 20 vehicles per trip, carried 10,351 vehicles. By 1953 the highway department had invested $15 million in five ferries. The state built docks here and at St. Ignace. As the demand for service grew, passengers could wait more than ten hours, especially during deer hunting season. The ferries ran until 1957 when the Mackinac Bridge opened, and the dock was leased to public and private interests.

Michigan State Car Ferries (side 2)
The Michigan Highway Department operated car ferries between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace for thirty-four years beginning in 1923. The first vessel, Ariel, was a small wooden boat built in 1881 as a river ferry. Unsuited to the rough waters of the Great Lakes, Ariel was relocated
Michigan State Car Ferries<br>(<i>marker side 2 • faces west</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 19, 2011
2. Michigan State Car Ferries
(marker side 2 • faces west)
in 1926 to carry passengers between Port Huron and Sarnia, Canada. The State Ferry System operated five vessels during the summer season and contracted with the Mackinac Transportation Company to carry automobiles on Chief Wawatam and Sainte Marie during the winter. The “Era of the State Ferries” officially ended on November 1, 1957, when the first vehicles crossed the Mackinac Bridge.

Michigan Historical Center, Michigan Department of State
Registered State Site No. 670,
Property of the state of Michigan • 2001

 
Erected 2001 by Michigan Historical Center, Michigan Department of State. (Marker Number S670.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & ViaductsRoads & VehiclesWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Michigan Historical Commission series list.
 
Location. 45° 46.632′ N, 84° 43.535′ W. Marker is in Mackinaw City, Michigan, in Cheboygan County. Marker can be reached from South Huron Avenue north of Wendell Street, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located east of South Huron Avenue along the right (south) side of the driveway as you enter the Straits State Harbor
Michigan State Ferry System / Michigan State Car Ferries Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 16, 2019
3. Michigan State Ferry System / Michigan State Car Ferries Marker
View looking to the east down the driveway to the Straits State Harbor parking area.
parking area. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 409 South Huron Avenue, Mackinaw City MI 49701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Auto Ferries (within shouting distance of this marker); Mill Creek (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ice Harvesting (about 400 feet away); Edgar Conkling 1812-1881 (about 500 feet away); The Meneely Bell (about 600 feet away); Commercial Fishing (about 700 feet away); Breaking the ice (about 800 feet away); British Colonial Shipbuilding Yard, 1761 - 1781 (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mackinaw City.
 
Also see . . .
1. St. Ignace "Tidbits of History". Michigan was the first state to establish a state car ferry system. By late 1923, little Ariel was shuttling automobiles from St. Ignace’s State Dock (now Arnold Transit’s dock) across the Straits of Mackinac to the State Dock in Mackinaw City. Over the course of the 34-year (1923-1957) lifespan of the Michigan State Car Ferry System, there were eight ferries: Ariel, Sainte Ignace, Mackinaw City, The Straits of Mackinac, City of Cheboygan, City of Munising, City of Petoskey, and Vacationland. (Submitted on April 3, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. History of the Michigan State Ferries. In 34 years of service, the ferries
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operated by the Department of State Highways carried some 12 million vehicles and more than 30 million passengers across the Straits of Mackinac that separate Michigan's two peninsulas. Though service rarely was suspended because of bad weather, there were times when strong winds jammed ice into dock areas, trapping even the big Vacationland. When that happened, passengers were forced to wait for the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw to break loose the imprisoned ferry. (Submitted on April 3, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 28, 2019. It was originally submitted on April 1, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 120 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 3, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   3. submitted on August 23, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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Jan. 17, 2021