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Rising 552 feet (that's 55 stories!) above the Straits of Mackinac, where lakes Michigan and Huron meet, is the world-famous Mackinac Bridge. Also known as the "Mighty Mac," this engineering marvel is 5 miles long and, anchor block to anchor block, holds the record as the longest suspension bridge in the world!
Before the Mackinac Bridge was constructed, travelers between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas had to cross the Straits via an an hour-long ferry ride. On busy weekends, like the start of hunting season or the Fourth of July holiday, carloads of anxious travelers would wait in line as long as 24 hours to catch a ferry.
Although the bridge was envisioned way back in the late 1800s, Sen. Prentiss M. Brown, Sr., the "Father of the Mackinac Bridge," was the key figure in the bridge construction project. Governor-elect G. Mennen (Soapie) Williams was another strong advocate for the bridge and helped to create the Mackinac Bridge Authority in 1950. The bridge designer was Dr. David B. Steinman and primary contruction firms were Merrit-Chapman & Scott and the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel.
Today, the Mackinac Bridge is hailed as one of the most outstanding engineering achievements of the century and leaves people wondering how Michigan ever got along without it! The 100 millionth crossing of the bridge happened on June 25, 1998.
Images: The Mackinac Bridge looking south, and view from the Mackinaw City shore (May 2000), both courtesy Christine Manninen.