The Portage Lake Lift Bridge & Houghton Bridgefest

The Portage Lift Bridge I

The Portage Lift Bridge I, photo by We Are CS.

There are those who believe that the Portage Lift Bridge in Houghton, Michigan looks like two grasshoppers eating spaghetti. There are also those who believe this structure is worthy of celebration. That annual event happens this weekend (June 19-21) and it’s called Bridgefest. It looks like they pack a lot of fun into this weekend long celebration.

Wikipedia’s Portage Lake Lift Bridge entry says:

The Portage Lake Lift Bridge connects the cities of Hancock and Houghton, Michigan, USA, across Portage Lake, a portion of the waterway which cuts across the Keweenaw Peninsula with a canal linking the final several miles to Lake Superior to the northwest. US 41 and M-26 are both routed across the bridge.

The original bridge on this site was a wooden swing-bridge built in 1875. This was replaced by a steel swing-bridge built by the King Bridge Company in 1901. This bridge was damaged when a ship collided with it in 1905. The center swinging section of the bridge was replaced and a similar incident almost occurred again in 1920, but the ship was able to stop by dropping its anchor, which snagged on the bottom of the lake. In 1959, this bridge was replaced, at a cost of about 11-13 million US dollars (sources vary), by the current bridge which was built by the American Bridge Company.

As its name states, the bridge is a lift bridge with the middle section capable of being lifted from its low point of four feet clearance over the water to a clearance of 100 feet (30 m) to allow boats to pass underneath. The Bridge is the world’s heaviest and widest double-decked vertical lift bridge.Its center span “lifts” to provide 100 feet (30 m) of clearance for ships. The bridge is a crucial lifeline, since it is the only land based link between the north (so-called Copper Island) and south sections of the Keweenaw peninsula.

Be sure to check this out bigger and also have a look at Kyle’s Portage Lift Bridge set (slideshow). More photos of the Portage Lift Bridge on Flickr.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s