Michigan's Mackinac Bridge
The Mighty Mac
The Mackinac Bridge is a five mile long suspension bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. It is the only way that vehicles can travel from one peninsula to the other. Michiganders affectionately call the bridge The Mighty Mac or The Big Mac. It is five miles in length and at the time it was built, it was the longest single suspension bridge. Although there have been others that have taken its place over the years, it remains a beautiful addition to the landscape and provides an important function for both Michigan residents and travelers to the Great Lakes State.
Map of The Mackinac Bridge
What is a suspension bridge?
A suspension bridge has one major significant difference in comparison to other types of bridges. That is that they are designed to be flexible in order to move with severe weather conditions or natural disasters such as earthquakes. A suspension bridge has towers that are anchored with master cables running over the top of these towers. Then additional support cables are attached from the the master cables at the top to the deck of the bridge. Other examples of suspension bridges are The Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. Suspension bridges are simple and beautiful in their design.
Fares to Cross the Mackinac Bridge
If you decide that you would like to cross the Mackinac Bridge, be prepared with your fare. For passenger cars, it is $4.00. For all others, it is $5.00 per axle.
Building the Mackinac Bridge
Prior to the Mackinac Bridge, travelers would use a ferry service to cross between Michigan's two peninsulas. When traffic began to increase greatly, the exploration of building a bridge took place. Building the Mackinac Bridge was an amazing engineering feat in its day. Prior to the decision and final plan to build the bridge, there had been many proposals on how to connect Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. One suggestion even included a tunnel that would float between the two cities. Although serious conversation began in 1888 about building a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac, there wasn't any real action taken until 1934. Unfortunately the wars that took place during the next twenty years delayed any further serious discussion on the building of a bridge.
Finally on May 7,1954, the construction of the bridge began. Under the design of Dr. David B. Steinman and a contract to build by Merritt-Chapman, and Scott along with the American Bridge Division of the United Steel Corporation, the building had begun. It took over three years to complete and was finally open to traffic on November 1,1957. Today over a half a million cars travel across the bridge annually.
Mackinac Bridge Camera
Mackinac Bridge on Dirty Jobs
Interesting Mackinac Bridge Facts
- Five men lost their lives during the construction of the bridge. Since the bridge has opened, one additional worker lost his life on the job.
- Fireworks are displayed at the shoreline of the bridge on Saturday evenings throughout the summer months.
- The only car to ever flip over the edge of the bridge was a Yugo during very bad weather in November of 1989. I actually know this to be true because the student teacher that I had in high school at the time was actually just a few cars back from the incident.
- The last bond to pay for the construction of the bridge was finished in 1986. Now the fares go to bridge maintenance.
- The Mackinac Bridge maintenance jobs were featured on an episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.
Mackinac Bridge Walk Video
Mackinac Bridge Walk
The Mackinac Bridge Walk is an annual event that is held each Labor Day weekend. The walk begins with the current Governor leading the walk around 7am. There are runners, walkers, and families who participate in this annual event. Some make it every year and others decide that the five mile walk is fine to do just once! Participants walk from one side of the bridge to the other and then are shuttled by bus back to the starting point.
Books About the Mackinac Bridge
Interesting Places to Visit Near Mackinac Bridge
Since the Mackinac Bridge connects Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula and St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula there are many interesting places to stop and visit on either side of the bridge.
- Museum of Ojibwa Culture
- Fort Michilimackinac
- Old Mission Light House
- Mackinac Island (This is a wonderful tourist attraction that is only reached by ferry. You can take a ferry to the island in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace.
- Beaches and Shopping (There are beautiful beaches, shopping areas and hotels along the coastline if you want to stay for a night or two.)