Photo by Todd & Brad Reed Photography

Maritime Heritage Trail

These are the Maritime Heritage Trail stops approved by the Cultural Economic Development Task Force. Dial (231) 480-3084 and use the following extensions for an audio narrative:

  • (500) The Salt Industry 
  • (501) The Commercial Port
  • (502) The Carferries
  • (503) The Lumbering Era
  • (504) Commerical Fishing
  • (505) The Ship Building Industry 
  • (506) Ghost Towns
  • (507) Station Fleet
  • (508) Station Boat Launch 
  • (509) 1934 Coast Guard Station
  • (510) Developing the Harbor
  • (511) Life-Saving Station
  • (512) North Breakwater Light 
  • (513) S.S. Badger 
  • (514) Big Sable Lighthouse
  • (516) Little Sable Lighthouse 
  • (517) White River Light Station

The Salt Industry

The Salt Industry began here when sawmill owners discovered massive underground brine wells. Ludington soon became one of America’s top salt-producing cities. 

The Commercial Port

Built for the lumber industry, it later served the salt, sand, and chemical industries and established Ludington as a major Great Lakes port. 

The Carferries

The Carferries were initiated in 1896 at Ludington by the F&PM Railroad. Today, Lake Michigan Carferry Service carries on that tradition with the Badger. 

The Lumbering Era

The Lumbering Era flourished in Ludington with nine sawmills using the river to move cut trees from vast inland pine forests and Lake Michigan to ship out milled lumber. 

Commercial Fishing

Commercial Fishing began here in the late 19th century, and the area later became one of the Lake Michigan’s most popular sport fishing destinations. 

The Ship Building Industry

The Shipbuilding Industry began here with the first schooner built in 1869. Local shipbuilders produced over 50 commercial vessels and dozens of pleasure boats. 

Ghost Towns

Ghost Towns were all that remained on the Buttersville Peninsula after the pine forests were depleted and lumber industry workers and fishermen relocated. 

Station Fleet

The Station Fleet, consisting of eight different life saving vessels, including the beloved 44-foot motor lifeboat, operated for 70 years at the 1934 Coast Guard Station. 

Station Boat Launch

The Station Boat Launch originally allowed rescue vessels, including the beloved 44-foot motor lifeboat, operated for 70 years at the 1934 Coast Guard Station. 

1934 Coast Guard Station

The 1934 Coast Guard Station, built during the Great Depression, was critical to serve and protect the year-round carferry operation at Ludington. 

Developing the Harbor

Developing the Harbor began in 1860 to give vessels access into Pere Marquette Lake for efficient shipment of lumber. By 1914 improvements made it a harbor of refuge. 

The Life-Saving Station

Built in 1879 on the channel’s south side, was later relocated to the north side, then transferred to the Coast Guard in 1915 and used until 1934. 

Nova Motel
The Jam Farm

For more information on the Maritime Heritage Trail, please visit:

More Trails & Tours in Ludington

Music Heritage Trail

The Music Heritage Trail will take you from Idlewild to Baldwin and from Scottville to Ludington as it explores the historic music scene!

Mason County Barn Quilt Trail

The Barn Quilt Trail, highlighting the lost art of barn decor, is one of four trails that comprise the Mason County Cultural Trails.

Bicycle Trails

Both beginners and experienced cyclists will enjoy the variety of trails available to explore in Ludington!

Trails and Tours

Discover all of the different trails and tours that Ludington has to offer! Discover a water path, hiking trail, or an art work stop!


The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant and Lakewinds Energy Park are the two main sources of energy that power Ludington! Check them out!

Mason County Cultural Trails

Mason County is home to several trails that tell stories with fascinating histories. Explore these self-guided tours to learn about each one!

Murals of Ludington

Within the downtown Ludington region, several murals grace the façades of local area businesses, telling stories of the area’s rich history.