As a child growing up in London I had a penpal from Detroit. Not long after the Mackinac Bridge was completed he sent me a photograph. It took a while but now I’ve seen it for myself. So Denis Cadaret, formerly of Hunt Club Drive, if you’re out there … Hi.
Along with the photo came instructions on pronunciation. It rhymes with awe which it generates as well. The first Europeans in the region wrote down the native name for the area. Since the Europeans in question were French they put a letter on the end that they had no intention of pronouncing.
The bridge is 26,372 feet long, almost precisely 5 miles (8 km). It is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. The span between the main towers is 26,372 feet (1,158 m). The total weight of the bridge is 1,024,500 tons (929,410,766 kg). Clearance for shipping in the centre is 155 feet (47 m). The bridge was opened in 1957, the 150 millionth vehicle crossed the bridge on September 6, 2009. These and many more fascinating facts can be found on the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s website and don’t forget the rivets all 4,851,700 of them.
The bridge crosses the Mackinac Straits, Lake Michigan is to the west, Lake Huron to the east. The City of St. Ignace is at the northern end, the Village of Mackinaw City at the southern end. Yes that’s right, it’s Mackinac everything except the city which is written as it’s spoken, and yes, the city is in fact a village as provided for by the General Law Village Act, Public Act No. 3, of 1895, as amended.
From Mackinaw City you can take a ferry to Mackinac Island, a very pleasant place to visit. There are no motor driven vehicles on the island (except for emergency vehicles that are kept out of sight except during emergencies). It is home to the greatest concentration of fudge outlets in the universe as well as a fair bit of history. And eminently photogenic.
This is the view that awaits as you pull into the dock …
Why not take a carriage?
The Grand opened in 1887. It provided the location for the 1980 film Somewhere in Time.
There is an arch on the island that makes it into everything written about the place so for the sake of completeness here it is …
As you leave you have the bridge out in front of you or you can look over your shoulder take a last look at the Grand Hotel.