A Tale of Two Bridges: History of Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge

Freighter Saginaw Under the Blue Water Bridge

Untitled, photo by Diane

The website Michigan History was produced by someone at MSU. While I have no idea who or why they gave up on what was shaping up to be a cool website, the history checks out. The page on Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge says:

Perhaps Port Huron’s greatest claim to fame is the Blue Water Bridge, a historic arcing bridge that serves as a means of transportation between Canada and the United States. The bridge is located over the St. Clair River, and connects Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario. In 2013 the Blue Water Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary, and a closer look at its history show why Port Huron residents take pride in the structure.

The original Blue Water Bridge was constructed in 1938, and was built by the American Bridge Company of New York, and the Hamilton Bridge Company of Ontario. The original bridge is an arch cantilever bridge, which was designed to not only support large amounts of traffic, but also to have an aesthetic arching look. In the late 1980s the border crossing became so popular that plans for a new bridge were brought up. However, instead of demolishing the old bridge, a new one was built in 1997 beside the old bridge, to support eastbound traffic.

The Michigan cost for building the new bridge, and renovating the old one was $62.6 million dollars. (Michigan Department of Transportation) The project was considered an enormous success and won awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Ontario Institution of Steel Construction, and the Federal Highway Administration. For Port Huron residents the bridge signifies the close connection with Canada, and the willingness of the two sides to work closely together.

Click for more about the history of Port Huron. If you want to get really in depth, The Construction History of the Blue Water Bridge (pdf) is an excellent account that details the political maneuverings and construction challenges of both bridges.

View Diane’s photo of the freighter Saginaw passing under the Blue Water Bridge background bigtacular and see more in her Freighters and the St. Clair River slideshow.

There’s more Michigan bridges on Michigan in Pictures, and since you’ve read this far, Boatnerd’s page on the Saginaw has everything you’ll want to know about the self-unloading bulk carrier that was launched May 9th, 1953 as the John J. Boland. It’s one of three near sister vessels built by this shipyard: The John G. Munson which is still plying the lakes and the Detroit Edison that suffered a career-ending grounding in Lake Michigan in December of 1980.

Mackinac Wake

Mackinac Bridge from ferry

Mackinac Wake, photo by Bill Johnson

Bill took this photo in May of 1987 and writes:

We had been out to the island and were returning via ferry when the captain announced a slight detour in our route. There was some kind of a special group aboard and as a treat, our boat went under the Mighty Mac, something they hardly ever do. It was pretty neat. The five mile long bridge is no longer the longest suspension bridge in the world, but to me it’s still the prettiest. I’ve personally seen several other suspension bridges, including the Golden Gate, and I’ll pick the Mac every time.

View his photo background big and see more in his Michigan slideshow.

Lots more of the Mighty Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan Wild & Scenic Rivers: Over the (Pine) River

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Pine River Bridge Wellston, Michigan, photo by John Mickevich

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
~Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968

Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers, and one of these is the Pine River. The Pine River Management Plan says (in part):

Visitors to the Pine River Corridor continue to enjoy a variety of recreation experiences in natural appearing settings. Visitors may encounter both non-motorized and motorized recreation on land within the Pine River corridor (such as hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and auto touring) while only non-motorized recreation is encountered in the river channel. High quality commercial services are available for recreation activities, particularly for boating and fishing.

Watercraft use, particularly canoeing, is an important recreation activity on the Pine River. The river character provides watercraft users with a moderate challenge in practicing boating and water safety skills and a high degree of interaction with the natural environment.

…Fishing on the Pine River is another popular recreation activity. The Pine River is considered a “blue ribbon” trout fishery and many anglers take advantage of the early morning and evening hours and weekdays to fish with some degree of solitude.

Click to view it on a map!

View John’s photo background big and see more in his Manistee County slideshow.

More Michigan Wild & Scenic Rivers on Michigan in Pictures – safe travels everyone!

PS: Marilyn Wilkie shared that this is the Mortimer E Cooley Bridge on M-55. It’s a Metal Cantilever 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Deck Truss bridge built in 1935.

Fall reflections at Black River Harbor

Fall Reflections at Black River

Fall reflections at Black River Harbor, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

The Ottawa National Forest page on Black River Harbor Recreation Area explains:

Known for its spectacular waterfalls, idyllic beaches, scenic hiking trails and tranquil campground, the Black River Harbor Recreation Area is a popular destination throughout the year. Originating in Wisconsin, the Black River flows through forested areas of large pine, hemlock and hardwood trees. The River has a series of scenic waterfalls as it drops in elevation to meet Lake Superior. Tannin (tannic acids) from hemlock trees is what gives it its unique color.

The Harbor offers one of the area’s few access points to Lake Superior, with boating being a major summer time activity. The boat ramp can accommodate almost any craft trailered in. There is no launching fee. Boat fuel and snacks are available through the concessionaire. Parking for trucks and boat trailers is ample.

Read on more more information including a map.

John took this photo a few days ago. Check it out bigger and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook for more great fall color and lots more of Michigan at its best!

Way above the Mighty Mac

Mackinac Bridge from Above

The Mackinac Bridge, photo by FotoLense

Well while we’re up in the air (see yesterday) why not stay there?

View this photo background bigtacular and see more including some more aerials from the area in FotoLense’s Mackinac Island July 2013 slideshow.

There’s some great facts about the Mackinac Bridge if you click the photo and a ton more on the Mighty Mac from Michigan in Pictures!

Above the Fog at the Mackinac Bridge

Mighty Mac in Fog

Mighty Mac in the Fog, photo by Lake Superior Photo

Shawn writes that she crossed a very mysterious looking Mackinac Bridge on Sunday – no shortage of fog lately!

View the photo bigger on Facebook and see more & purchase prints in Lake Superior Photo’s Mackinac Bridge Gallery.

More fog & mist on Michigan in Pictures.

#TBT “Shift Change” – Mackinac Bridge construction, 1956

Shift Change at Mackinac Bridge

“Shift Change” – Mackinac Bridge construction, 1956, photo by otisourcat

What’s your commute looking like today? Mightymac.org has a great account of building the Mackinac Bridge, a process that began on May 7, 1954 and was completed November 1, 1957. It begins:

Construction of the Mackinac Bridge began with the construction of the pillars. Caissons were constructed, floated into position and sunk to provide the footings for the two immense towers which would suspend the center span of the bridge. Once the caissons were in place, creeper derricks were added, which raised materials to erect the towers and continued to climb higher.

The Mackinac Bridge roadway truss sections were assembled in sections and floated into position to be raised into place.

Constructing the Mackinac Bridge actually went on into 1958 and took 48 months, 3,500 workers, 895,000 blueprints & structural drawings, 71,300 tons of structural steel, 931,000 tons of concrete, 42,000 miles of cable wire, 4,851,700 steel rivets, 1,016,600 steel bolts and 99,800,000 dollars. There were 350 engineers and another 7,500 men & women worked at quarries, shops, mills and other locations.

When completed, the Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world and it is currently the longest suspension bridge in North & South America and the third longest suspension bridge in the world.

Read on for lots more including excellent photos of the process and also see these photos of construction of the Mackinac Bridge from the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

otisourcat writes: This is a color slide, but the aged Ektachrome color is so wonky, that the image is much clearer in B&W. View the photo bigger and see more Mackinac shots right here.

There’s lots more Mackinac Bridge photos & info and lots more Throw Back Thursdays on Michigan in Pictures.