October 9, 2014
The page on the Cut River Bridge at Historic Bridges begins:
Among Michigan’s largest and most well-known historic bridges is the iconic Cut River Bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is large enough that MDOT actually has maintained this bridge as an area attraction. Surrounding the bridge is a roadside park and a series of trails around the bridge. The intent to make this bridge something more than just a crossing goes back before this bridge’s status as a historic bridge to its initial construction. The bridge was designed as an attraction even when it was built, since sidewalks above the bridge in this rural area are present. Also, a set of stairways, part of the original design, take pedestrians under the bridge where they can view the supporting trusses. The abutments and piers were also given unusually exceptional detail, in particular the use of decorative stone facing. The two main piers give the appearance are attractive cut stone arches.
The bridge includes a total of 888 tons of steel and its height over the Cut River is 147 feet. It offers views of Lake Michigan from its deck. The bridge was originally painted a silver color, but is today painted green. This bridge is a steel deck cantilever truss bridge. This structure type is much more common in more hilly states like Pennsylvania, but is extremely rare in Michigan. The structure has visual complexity as a result of the extensive lattice and v-lacing on its riveted, built-up members, which are all very massive, typical for both a bridge of its size and its age. The bridge retains original standard-plan metal guardrails (Michigan’s “signature” type R4 railings) on the sidewalks that flank the roadway on each side. It also retains standard Michigan State Highway Department plaques.
Read on for lots more about this bridge that was constructed in the early 1940s. If you do make it to Cut River, do yourself a favor and hike down – it’s very cool!
More bridges on Michigan in Pictures!
September 1, 2014
Yikes! I accidentally re-blogged a photo by Dave so I switched it out for the one below…
The annual Mackinac Bridge Walk has been held every year on Labor Day since the Bridge opened in 1957, which means the Bridge Walk is celebrating its 57th anniversary. Just 68 people took that first 5 mile walk across the Mighty Mac, but since the Governor began leading the walk, it averages 40,000 to 65,000 attendees.
Lots more about the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!
August 28, 2014
OK, we’re not throwing back too far for this Thursday, but I wanted to share a really cool view that Mark took this February of the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac locked in the grip of the Polar Vortex.
July 30, 2014
Sunset, or at least twilight has arrived for the privately owned Ambassador Bridge. The AP is reporting that there’s now a deal for the long-discussed bridge between Detroit & Windsor:
Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have called a news conference Wednesday about the planned new $2 billion bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
Snyder’s office said Tuesday that Raitt and the governor “will make an announcement regarding the New International Trade Crossing” at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Canadian Club Heritage Center in Windsor.
The governor’s and transport minister’s offices declined immediate comment Tuesday on the nature of the announcement.
Michigan and Canadian leaders have agreed to build the bridge over the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit’s southwest side.
Officials say Canada would finance construction of the bridge, which would open in 2020.
July 24, 2014
A calm night on the Straits of Mackinac, and Michigan’s signature bridge was looking fine!
I’ve posted a ton about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge here on Michigan in Pictures, but had never seen this excellent summary of how it came to be courtesy the Michigan Dept. of Transportation’s page on I-75 and the Straits of Mackinac:
The five-mile stretch of water separating Michigan’s two peninsulas, the result of glacial action some twelve thousand years ago, has long served as a major barrier to the movement of people and goods. The three railroads that reached the Straits of Mackinac in the early 1880s, the Michigan Central and the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway from the south, and the Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette from the north, jointly established the Mackinac Transportation Company in 1881 to operate a railroad car ferry service across the straits. The railroads and their shipping lines developed Mackinac Island into a major vacation destination in the 1880s.
Improved highways along the eastern shores of Michigan’s lower peninsula brought increased automobile traffic to the straits region starting in the 1910s. The state of Michigan initiated an automobile ferry service between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City in 1923 and eventually operated eight ferry boats. In peak travel periods, particularly during deer season, five mile backups and delays of four hours or longer became common at the state docks at Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.
With increased public pressure to break this bottleneck, the Michigan legislature established a Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority in 1934, with the power to issue bonds for bridge construction. The bridge authority supported a proposal first developed in 1921 by Charles Evan Fowler, the bridge engineer who had previously promoted a Detroit-Windsor bridge. Fowler’s plans called for an island-hopping route from the city of Cheboygan to Bois Blanc, Round, and Mackinac islands, thence to St. Ignace, along a twenty-four-mile route. The Public Works Administration flatly rejected a request for loans and grants to implement this project.
A plan was then drawn up for a direct crossing from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace, but they were again denied funds. In 1940, a plan was submitted for a suspension bridge with a main span of 4600 feet. This design was a larger version of the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State, a structure destroyed by high winds on November 7, 1940. Although the disaster delayed any further action, the activities of 1938-1940 nevertheless produced some important results. The bridge authority conducted a series of soundings and borings across the straits and built a causeway extending out 4200 feet from the St. Ignace shore. The Second World War ended any additional work, and the Legislature abolished the bridge authority in 1947.
William Stewart Woodfill, president of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, almost singlehandedly resuscitated the dream of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac. Woodfill formed the statewide Mackinac Bridge Citizens Committee in 1949 to lobby for a new bridge authority, which the legislature created in 1950. A panel of three prominent engineers conducted a feasibility study and made recommendations to the bridge authority on the location, structure, and design of the bridge.
The State Highway Department, which had just placed a $4.5 million ferryboat, Vacationland, into service at the straits in January 1952, remained hostile to the bridge plan. In April 1952, the Michigan legislature authorized the bridge authority to issue bonds for the project, choose an engineer, and proceed with construction. The authority selected David B. Steinman as the chief engineer in January 1953 and tried unsuccessfully to sell the bridge bonds in April 1953, but by the end of the year, the authority had sold the $99.8 million in revenue bonds needed to begin construction.
June 3, 2014
If you’ve been following Michigan in Pictures for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the work of John McCormick aka Michigan Nut.
John has just released his 2015 Michigan Wild & Scenic Wall Calendar, and you can get it for just $15. As an added bonus, if you head over to like his post about it on Facebook, you have a chance to win a free one!
The photo above of the Mackinac Bridge is not only the cover of the calendar, it’s also the photo for June. View (and purchase) John’s photo bigger at MichiganNutPhotography.com, see more in his Michigan Bridges Gallery and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook for a regular dose of photographic awesome from the Great Lakes State!
There’s lots more from John on Michigan in Pictures too!!