Virtually every visitor to the area marvels at one of the most treasured accomplishments: the spanning of the Straits by the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.
Before the building of the Mackinac Bridge, vehicles would take ferries from one peninsula to the other. The day before the opening of deer season in 1954, vehicles waiting to cross the Straits of Mackinac by ferry lined up from Mackinaw City and stretched seven miles south on US-31. On US-23 the line reached even farther, all the way to the city of Cheboygan. It became evident that something had to be done about the huge traffic backups. Through the efforts of a committee called the Inter-Peninsula Communications Council, the Bridge Authority was revived. Prentice Brown, a former U.S. Senator spearheaded the drive to convince the legislature that a suspension bridge was possible. Plans were drawn, financing was approved and construction of the "Mighty Mac" began.
Connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, the bridge was completed in November, 1957 and cost $96 million. ($78 million paid to the contractors and the remaining $18 million used to service the debt during construction.) The Mackinac Bridge employed 350 engineers and 11,000 workers (3,500 on site and 7,500 at quarries, shops and mills).
The bridge bows or swings out to the east or west as much as 20 feet on windy days. The towers move north and south towards (and away) from each other as much as 18 feet depending on the weight of the vehicles at different points across the bridge. The total length of the bridge is 26,372 feet with 3,800 of that between the main towers. There are over 42,000 miles of wires in the main cable.
Over four million vehicles cross the Mackinac Bridge every year. The bridge also has inspired many events scheduled by local communities. The biggest of these is the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. For over 45 years, thousands of visitors, locals and dignitaries have come to the bridge to cross the "Mighty Mac" on foot.
Over the years, many unusual things have occurred on the bridge. Dogs, deer and even a skunk have been found roaming the span. Mothers have even given birth in crossing vehicles.
The Mackinac Bridge will be featured on a new stamp. Read about it here at the St. Ignace News.
Check out our bridge photos in the photo gallery here...
"Mackinac Bridge Connects Michigan's Peninsulas": Check out the History.com video here!
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