The propeller featured in this sculpture “Driving Force”, once powered the City of Midland 41 by converting the energy of the ship’s powerful steam engines to the driving force that moved the ship. It was likely damaged while operating in heavy ice. The propeller is 14 feet in diameter and weighs more than 14,000 lbs. The City of Midland was converted to a tug barge in 1998 and now transports a variety of bulk materials to several ports on the Great Lakes.
In the 1950’s, seven car ferries were operating out of the port of Ludington. It was said that back then one could always see a car ferry arriving or departing. The City of Midland 41 was part of this fleet and was perhaps the most beloved car ferry by the crew members who sailed on these great ships..
This sculpture was designed and fabricated by employees of the SS Badger and pays tribute to the thousands of employees who have been the human driving force of Ludington car ferries for more than one hundred years. The individual stories of these people are an important part of the heritage of this maritime community.
The Clingan family and Lake Michigan Carferry donated the sculpture. Don Clingan, Bob Manglitz, and Jim Anderson owned and operated the SS Badger from 1994 until the business was sold to Interlake Steamship Company on December 30, 2020.
The SS Badger was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016. The history of the car ferries of Ludington can be found in the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum located in the retired Coast Guard Station adjacent to this property.