Arnold Transit Company

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The Mackinac Express catamaran - these were run until 2013, but no longer run

Arnold Transit Company is the longest running ferry boat company serving Mackinac Island in Michigan. Also known as "Arnold Line," the company has docks in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, in addition to the docks on the island.


Arnold Transit Company was started in 1878 by George Arnold (1846-1921). Coal-fire steam boats transported passengers and goods for almost 70 years to various Michigan ports and islands.[1] Mrs. Arnold brought in Otto Lang and Prentiss Brown to manage the business.

After World War II, Arnold Transit Company, now owned by Lang and Brown, started to add modern diesel boats to its fleet. In June 1946, Arnold, which ran from Mackinaw City to Mackinac, merged with Island Transportation Company which ran a St. Ignace to Mackinac Island route.

In 1987, the first of three catamaran ferries was added to the Arnold Line fleet.

In 2010, after decades of ownership, the Brown family announced the sale of Arnold Transit parent company Union Terminal Piers to James Wynn.[2]

In 2014, the company suffered financially, and the investment group backing Wynn foreclosed. The foreclosure resulted in the public auction of two catamarans. The Arnold Transit Co. continues to own the largest catamaran, Straits Express, which is currently being repaired in hopes to return to service in 2016.[3] In March 2014, the company announced that Wynn had been removed as president and from his position on the board of directors, and would no longer be involved in the company's operations.[4] The company is now owned and operated by the original investment group out of Cincinnati, Ohio, with Brent C. Rippe acting as president.[5]

In September 2015, an agreement was reached to ensure the company's continued access between its Mackinac Island dock and Main Street, which had been lost in a land deal engineered by Wynn.[6]


  • Traditional Ferries: Chippewa, Algomah, Huron, Ottawa, Straits of Mackinac II.
  • Non-Passenger Freight: Corsair and Mackinac Islander.
  • Catamaran: Straits Express


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