A Sad Goodbye to Arnold Ferry Line 11/13/16

As most of you already know, the 5 p.m. departure of the Huron last Thursday marked the last time a boat operated by Arnold Ferry Line would travel to or from Mackinac Island.  The historic ferry line (the oldest and longest-running), which began serving the island 138 years ago, has been purchased by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, which began 38 years ago as competition to Arnold and to Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which was created in 1945.


Arnold’s mighty Huron, as she is known by everyone with ties to Mackinac, has been the only winter ferry to the island since 1955.  Star Line will continue to operate the Huron for passenger and freight service during the winter, abiding by Mackinac Island’s winter ferry passenger service agreement.

Star Line will also buy five other Arnold Line boats, the Arnold Boatyard and several docks.


Star Line’s Marquette II arrives on Friday morning – her first trip ever as the winter ferry to Mackinac.

For hundreds of islanders, for thousands of  visitors whose memories of a Mackinac vacation began with an Arnold Line ferry boat ride, and for the hundreds of Arnold employees whose lives were tied to the company over those 138 years, this is the sad end of an era.  Especially poignant is the end of the mighty Huron operating as an Arnold boat.  It’s hard to comprehend for those of us who do not live year-round on Mackinac, but Arnold’s mighty Huron provided everything to the island after the close of the season – passenger service and freight service – until the Straits of Mackinac would freeze over and the ferry would have to stop running.  She alone was responsible for islanders receiving food and other staples for the grocery store and restaurants that remain open, for residents reaching the mainland if there were health concerns or if they just needed to have a day off-island, and for winter visitors trying out “Mackinac in the winter”.  Even though the mighty Huron will continue to run, it is a bittersweet transition from one company to another.

We wish Star Line a hearty congratulations on your new venture!  With only two lines providing transportation to Mackinac next summer, Star Line and Shepler’s, it will be interesting to see what changes are in store.  We know both these fine companies will continue to provide excellent service to and from our favorite island, and we look forward to a great 2017 season!


A poignant farewell photo from Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry on its last departure from the island: “It was a pleasure serving you.  Thank you for 138 years of memories.  This is your ATCO crew – signing off.”


Clark Bloswick has been busy documenting November on the island.  These next six photos are his.

A relatively calm day earlier in the month . . .

A relatively calm day earlier in the month.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers that these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday, Nov. 10. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down during a Lake Superior storm, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.

Friday saw the island awake to the first "gale of November" , , ,

Wind, waves and whitecaps.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

An early evening shot of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

An early evening shot tonight of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

I. Love. This. Photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

I love this photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)


I will not lie.  Having a teenage Golden Retriever who weighs  58 lbs. at seven months is a little harder than I thought it would be.  It’s been 12 years since we had a puppy in the house (that would be Maddie), and she was an amazingly easy girl.  And she was small.  Having a big dog puppy is totally different because he does everything . . . bigger!  Plays bigger, eats bigger, poops and pees bigger, chews bigger, walks bigger.  He is a daily challenge, but I love trying to stay one step ahead of him.

One of my biggest challenges is teaching him to greet people gently on our walks.  He wants to wiggle himself right into their space and get all mouthy with their hands.  It was wearing me out trying to pull him back.  So – I sent out a “please help me train Bodie” message to our entire Sunset Inlet community, giving suggestions on how to help Bodie learn to greet nicely.  Our neighbors have responded like the wonderful folks they are.  So far we’ve had encounters with two neighbors who ignored Bodie while I asked him to sit, waited for him to calm down, then asked him to “shake”, which he did.  Then they petted him.  And Bodie got a treat from me.  It was amazing how well it worked!

We have a trainer coming once a week for five weeks to offer tips and help me find the best ways to train him.  Two of our neighbors, Mark and Shauna, text “going to the dog park” when they head out with their two big dogs, Rascal and Ryder, so Bodie and I can join in the fun.  We have a big open area in our community we call the “dog park”.  It’s great for playing fetch and just letting dogs be dogs.

And – I will tell you something else big dogs do.  They LOVE big.  All I need to do to get some Bodie love is climb in his big bed with him.  He snuggles right in and we have some mom/Bodie love time.

Yes, he’s a challenge.  But he is remarkably smart, learns commands quickly, retains most of them well, and is quickly creating his own great big spot in my heart.

Bodie: "I know if I sit here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it."

Bodie: “Maybe if I stand here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it.”

"Hmmm . . . or maybe not."

“Hmmm . . . or maybe not.”


24 thoughts on “A Sad Goodbye to Arnold Ferry Line 11/13/16

  1. I remember our first visit to the island was on the Arnold Ferry Lines. I took lots of pictures of those catamarans before we boarded. It is a little bittersweet.
    Clark just always seems to be at the right place at the right time….his pictures are just awesome. He could do a book of the island with just pictures only…I’d buy it! That last picture of the stairs going up to point lookout…we have almost the exact same picture that was taken in October 2008.
    The picture of Bodie and Maddie under the table….Bodie ALMOST looks like Bear there. I knew it wouldn’t take long for him to find his way into your heart. 🙂 Luv ya!

  2. It’s been 14 years since a puppy for us. Now at 11 months, her exuberance is somewhat more controlled but still there!!!! Always!!!

  3. Very interesting about the Arnold. We have always taken the Arnold over the years. We wish them the best in all they do! Great pictures as always. Keep up the good work, Bodie!

  4. Oh my, that is sad news about the Arnold ferry line. Arnold was the only ferry we ever took to the island, and our early trips were on the old ferries like the Huron, before they added the ‘cats’. Those older ferries were a slow ride but were still fun. The ‘cats’ were an exciting change and I loved riding them. I have several Arnold ticket stubs saved among my memorabilia of Mackinac Island visits. It’s the end of an era. Regarding Bodie, he is so adorable! Goldens, especially young ones, just want to love everybody – they can’t help themselves!

  5. “Ride the Cat” to Mackinac billboards were always our sign that we were close to the ferries. Sad that the long tradition is ending, but kudos to Star for taking over! The Arnold dock is the closest to our Mackinac home away from home, Park Place Suites, so I’ll be happy we will still be able to dock nearby — I have lots of great memories of the grandkids awestruck by the “rooster tail” on the Star boats!

    Thanks for keeping the Mackinac memories alive for all of us, Brenda!!!

  6. So many good photographers on the island, but right now, Clark has stolen my heart. He takes pictures of things I wish I’d seen and then makes me think I have been there. Wonderful!
    My first trip to the island was on Arnold, and many more followed. I remember buying one-way tickets, because I figured by the time I’d leave the island I would have lost the other part! And I remember riding with horses one time. Amazing experience! Thanks for giving Arnold Line a shout out. It will definitely be different not seeing their name on the side of that big terminal!
    Bodie sounds pretty smart! You’ve had boys – hang in there with him, he’ll be a gentleman one day before you know it!

  7. Fall is a time of change, right? Sad to see Arnold’s go, but I know Sheplers & Star will be up for the challenge! For some reason I always thought the Edmund Fitzgerald sank a long, long time ago; that we were much safer now. It shocked me when I realized it happened in the 1970s.
    Cupid will be two and still mouths my hand in greeting.

    • Bodie was doing a little more than mouthing. He’s beginning to understand that’s a no-no now. The big doofus is such a sweetie you can’t help but love him to pieces!

  8. In early June of 1954, when I was 15 years old. I took an Arnold Line ferry to Mackinac Island to find work for the summer. It was the firsrt time I went to the Island. After asking in every store etc on one side of the street and half way up the other side I found a job washing dishes for Phil Corby’s “Coffee Cup.” Wow, that was a long time ago wasn’t it!? As I recall, it took about 45 minutes to make the trip from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island. Later in that summer when I visited back home in Cheboygan, I sometimes rode a ferry of the only other ferry line that operated at that time. The boats were smaller and so noisy I could hardly hear myself think, but I liked them anyway. My memory has told me that was the Star Line, but according to the dates you’ve given, it must have been Shepler’s. The dock on the Island for that line at that time was east of the Arnold Line Dock somewhere beyond the Bayview Bed & Breakfast.

    QUESTION: Under the picture of the Huron, you stated that “Star Line will continue to operate the Huron for passenger and freight service during the winter,” and under the next picture you stated, “Star Line’s Marquette II arrives on Friday morning – her first trip ever as the winter ferry to Mackinac.” I’m confused (nothing new). Does that mean both will be winter ferries?

    I must say something about the pictures: They are all wonderful, but I think my favorite is the one of the geese flying in for a landing on the point. I don’t know why it is, but I love to see geese. I can’t say I like the mess they make, but I do like to see them.

    Be sure to tell Ted, Maddie and Bodie Hello for me. You can also tell Bodie that I said to just bide his time and he’ll be able to get that toy when Maddie isn’t looking. Of course, it won’t be near as much fun as stealing it from her.

    • Lowell, I’m assuming (and you know what happens when you do that) the Huron will be used for freight and later in the winter for passengers when ice begins to form in the Straits. Maybe they’re saving it for the really tough winter duties.

      • I also saw Tom C comment on another site that the Star Line captains are out getting a feel for the Huron, since it is new for them. Also most haven’t been out in the ice. 😳

      • I had assumed (and apparently you know how that goes) that all the Arnold Line employees would be kept on.

      • Oops. Clicked the Post button too soon. I meant to say, After all, the Arnold Line employees already know what to do and wouldn’t need any more training. I just don’t see any reason to put people out of a job, especially when winter is coming on. Maybe that’s the reason why I never ran a company.

  9. It was difficult to watch the last run of the Arnold Line leaving Mackinac Island. They were the first ferry line we always took to the Island and then later switched to Star line as they were closer to our hotel when we got to the Island. I wish Star Line much success.

    Great photos of the Island and glad your enjoying your Bodie time. Before long he’ll have all those commands down, but he sounds like he still loves his puppy shenanigans. Continue to enjoy this special time with him.

    You all have a great week!!

  10. The loss of the Arnold Ferry line is very sad. Like Kathy wrote above, seeing the Arnold Ferry signs when driving on Interstate 75 was thrilling to know you were getting closer to the island. I really feel bad for the employees. I hope they will fine new jobs.

    The pics of Bodie and Maddie are hilarious! I love the way Maddie picks on Bodie! LOL! The thought of all the “commotion” in your house makes me smile!

    Take care! Hugs from Iowa!

  11. My guess is that Clark spends hours of patience and waiting to be in the right place at the right time. Kudos and thanks to him for doing that for our pleasure.

  12. Arnold was our first transport to the Island so this is sad news indeed. I hope Star Line can employee some of the folks displaced. Thanks very much for the wonderful photos and news on Bodie. Looks like he is on his way to becoming a gentleman, er, gentledog??

  13. I think many of us share your fond memories of Arnold Ferry Line, and especially the mighty Huron through the winter months. We will certainly remember it as an integral part of the Island’s history, but we share your excitement for the future!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s