Port of Ludington Maritime Museum
Residents and visitors alike are invited to step back in the past and learn about Ludington's rich maritime history at the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. Located in the former US Coast Guard Station, a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum entertains, enlightens, and instructs.
Visitors can pilot the famed carferry Pere Marquette 22 into Ludington’s harbor, meet holograms of both Captains Nels Palmer and Wallace Van Dyke, and enjoy several interactive exhibits.
Admission to the museum is $12 for Seniors (60 & Up), $13 for Adults, $11 for Children 4-13 years of age and free for children under 3.
Within the Maritime Museum
The museum tells the story of Ludington’s rich maritime history and heritage with three floors of exhibits that cover lighthouses, shipwrecks, the Coast Guard, the Ludington carferries, the lumber industry, and much more. The museum features the two original Fresnel lighthouse lenses from the Big Sable Point Lighthouse and the Ludington North Breakwater Light. Visitors can look into the recreation of the captain’s cabin of Captain Wallace Van Dyke, who was the captain of the historic Ludington carferry, the Pere Marquette 22, and see a hologram of an actor portraying Captain Van Dyke talking about his life growing up on the Lakes and becoming a captain. One of the museum’s premier exhibits is the fully interactive pilothouse simulator, where you can experience driving the carferry Pere Marquette 22 into the Ludington harbor as it would have looked in the late 1920s.
S.S. Badger Carferry Exhibit
The third floor of the museum features an exhibit dedicated specifically to the S.S. Badger carferry. Though several exhibits in the museum tell the full story of Ludington’s carferry industry, the Badger itself continues to be an important historical and cultural icon of Ludington’s maritime heritage. The exhibit explores the history of the Badger from its time as one of the railroad carferries, through the present day.
The Armistice Day Exhibit
The museum’s newest exhibit, which just opened in 2021, is on the historic Armistice Day Storm of 1940.
On Armistice Day- November 11, 1940, three storm fronts collided over the Midwest, creating a massive storm that wreaked havoc throughout the upper Midwest area, and then struck Lake Michigan. The storm sped north along Lake Michigan, damaging dozens of vessels, and causing its worst destruction between Big and Little Sable Points; grounding the carferry City of Flint 32 on the beach at Ludington, and sinking three large freighters. The Armistice Day Storm, as it became known, took the lives of 154 people, including 64 sailors on Lake Michigan.
This highly immersive exhibit will take you back in time to experience the dramatic events of the storm. When you enter the exhibit, 1940s parade music plays as you learn about the many Armistice Day celebrations that were taking place that morning, and visitors are introduced to the various vessels and topics that the exhibit follows throughout the storm. As you progress through the exhibit, the lighting changes to reflect the sudden and drastic change in weather as you learn the dramatic story of the storm and its many impacts. The end of the exhibit explores the shipwrecks of the vessels that sank in the storm and includes a mockup of a small submarine where visitors can sit and see underwater video of the shipwrecks.
Maritime Museums Around the Great LakesInterested in discovering more maritime museums around Lake Michigan? See our story about the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.
More History in the Ludington Area...
For more activities & attractions, check out these additional links for Things to Do in West Michigan:
Ludington Activities & Things to Do -- Play on a beautiful beach, take a tour at Historic White Pine Village, or explore the barn quilt trail, murals or sculptures in the county--Ludington offers many fun things to do for the entire family!
Have Fun in Manistee, Michigan -- Explore Manistee's historic downtown district and riverwalk, hike the Manistee National Forest, canoe on the Manistee River, and more.
Hamlin Lake -- Just 4 miles north of Ludington, Hamlin Lake is a great destination for boating, fishing and climbing dunes! The Hamlin Lake shoreline is also part of the Ludington State Park.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes -- Visiting the Silver Lake Sand Dunes makes for a terrific vacation because you can take your off-road vehicle for a spin on the scenic sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan and Silver Lake.
Things to Do in Pentwater, Michigan -- Nothing is quite like the quaint, artsy, harbortown village of Pentwater. Don't miss the popular Charles Mears State Park beach on Pentwater's Lake Michigan shoreline.
Lots of Activities in Scottville, Michigan -- Explore the Riverside Park along the National Scenic Pere Marquette River.
Canoeing or Fishing on the Pere Marquette River -- Many boat liveries offer canoe rentals.
Also, check out West Michigan Guides and our locally produced WestMichigan.MichBiz.com directory for our largest lists of Things to Do in West Michigan.