Mackinac Straits Bridge

On November first it was the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Straits Bridge. The Straits of Mackinac (pronounce Mac-in-awe) are between the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula of Michigan. My grandparents had a summer home in the UP near the Straits. When I was young, my family would drive to the Straits and take the ferry across. I always remembered it as enjoyable although my mother said that the wait was sometime difficult with 5 children between 2 and 9.

The Mackinac Island Ferry operates out of the dock in Mackinaw City where the Straits ferries used to land. If you follow the link to the picture, you can see the size of the parking lot where the cars would wait to be loaded. For the most part, I think that they were roll-on-and-through. I know that that Vacationland was. If you were near the front of the line when the cars loaded, you would be the first ones off. I think as kids we wanted to be near the front so that we could see the hull lift up and the ramp go down. I know my parents would just as soon have been the last car on the previous load so that we would be on our way.

I do not remember distinctly the very first trip across the bridge the next summer. I think I was a bit disappointed that we did not get to ride the ferry. The bridge was exciting though. At mid-span, the bridge deck is about 200 feet off the water. The bridge is 4 lanes (and a bit more wide). The middle two lanes on the suspended part are open decking. This reduces the wind load and lets the snow fall through in the winter. As you a riding along in the travel lane, you can look left and right 200 feet down and see the waves. The bridge authority will provide a driver if this is too scary for you.

Each Labor Day, there is an opportunity for pedestrians to walk across the bridge. I should probably try it some day. On the other hand, walking from the southern approach to the southern tower of the Golden Gate Bridge provoked mild acrophobia. Maybe I will just think about it.

If you like bridges, this is the best. Goto his home page for a complete index.
Goto Part 2