HISTORIC FEATS: The Mackinac Bridge

The modern world didn’t just happen. It was built. Built by men and women who understood the value of hard work and overcoming the impossible to accomplish Historic Feats. Those are our kind of people. To celebrate them and their accomplishments, OXX is taking a closer look at some of the greatest feats of human ingenuity that America has ever seen. 

Being from Michigan, many of us here at OXX can honestly say that we take the Mackinac Bridge for granted. But after digging into the bridge’s history, it’s definitely something we should be thankful it even happened. Before we get into the story of the men and women who built the bridge and what it’s done for Michigan, here’s some Michigander lingo that might be good to know:

 

Mackinac—pronounced “MACK-i-naw.”

Mitten—how Michiganders refer to the State of Michigan.

Trolls—people who live in the Lower Peninsula who they live “under” the Mackinac Bridge (that would include all of the OXX Team).

Yooper—pronounced “you-per,” refering to people who live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

With that out of the way, let’s dig into why the Mackinac Bridge is one of America’s greatest engineering feats and how it changed the Great Lakes State.

 

Photo Courtesy of Mackinac Bridge
Photo Courtesy of Mackinac Bridge

It took 70 years just to approve the project. 

Back in the late 1800s, there was already a group of bridge backers who wanted to see Michigan’s peninsulas connected. Increased tourism from Detroit, Chicago, and Montreal was making Mackinac Island and the beautiful Upper Peninsula a sought after vacation destination. In 1883 when the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, there was hope that the Strait of Mackinac would be the next body of water tackled. But it wasn’t until 1954—71 years later—that local, state, and federal groups finally came together and made the Mackinac Bridge project a reality.

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Mackinac Bridge
Photo Courtesy of Mackinac Bridge

3 years + over 11,000 men = “Mighty Mac”

The Mackinac Bridge, or “Mighty Mac,” project started on May 7, 1954. Working on the bridge site were some 3,500 men, with another 350 engineers. Another 8,500 men working in quarries, mills and shops contributed to the project by providing raw materials. When the bridge opened to the public on November 1, 1957 with its 42,000 miles of wire in cables and 931,000 tons of concrete, it was the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere at 5 miles long.

 

 

 

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Changing travel

Before the bridge, crossing the 120-foot deep Strait of Mackinac required an hour-long ferry ride. During the busy weekends of hunting season and summer holidays like the Fourth of July, cars would start lining up 24 hours in advance. Now, like over 100 million others, you can cross the Mighty Mac in as little as 10 minutes.

 

For us Michiganders, maybe we’ll take another look at the Mighty Mac and give credit where credit is due. The Mackinac Bridge is one of the greatest engineering feats in the country, and it has changed our home state forever.