On the south end of Stearns Park, nestled between the shuffleboard courts and the skate park, is a historical marker dedicated to the sinking of the S.S. Pere Marquette 18 car ferry. There are a few sites to visit to read about car ferries (and the sinking of the Pere Marquette 18 in particular), and Wisconsin shipwrecks. They can do the subject more justice than I can.
It's an easy marker to find, and as you can see from the image at the end of this post, it could use a makeover. Stearns Park is a thin stretch of land between the beach parking lot and North Lakeshore Drive. It seems like it's a buffer zone between the street and the sand, but there are some monuments and picnic tables to enjoy as well.
And after you've finished reading the interesting informational plaque about the sinking, you can enjoy beautiful Lake Michigan, and a fantastic beach. Ludington is one of the top five visited town in northern Michigan, and if you're a fan of the Great Lakes, it's a wonderful stop. I can personally recommend House of Flavors ice cream, breakfasts at Café 106 and Brenda Harbor Café, and dinner at Bortell's (my favorite place to eat in all of Michigan).
Where was I? Oh yes, the marker:
At least twenty-nine persons died when this vessel sank in Lake Michigan twenty miles off the Wisconsin coast on September 9, 1910. One of the Ludington carferry fleet, the 350 foot S.S. Pere Marquette 18 was traveling from this port to Wisconsin. About midlake a crewman discovered the ship was taking on vast amounts of water. The captain set a direct course for Wisconsin and sent a discreet signal by wireless. He and the crew battled for four hours to save the boat but she sank suddenly. All of the officers and many of the crew and passengers perished, among them the first wireless operator to die in active service on the Great Lakes. The S.S. Pere Marquette 17, aided by other ships who also heeded the wireless message for help, rescued more than thirty survivors but lost two of her own crew. the exact cause of this disaster remains a mystery.