News for the Nervous: Mackinac Bridge Driver’s Assistance Program

Mackinac Bridge Snow Winter

Mackinac Bridge, photo by Blondieyooper

Fun fact of the day: I have a mild fear of heights! While it’s not crippling enough to stop me from being able to drive over the Mighty Mac, I can definitely see where some people aren’t able to do that. For all of you, here’s a story (with a good video) about a little known service: The Mackinac Bridge Authority will drive you across!

The Mackinac Bridge Authority explains further:

The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a “Driver’s Assistance Program” that provides drivers for those uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. If you are traveling northbound, there is a phone at the south end of the bridge. Instructions for using the phone are posted in the phone box. If you are southbound, just ask a fare collector for assistance. There is no additional fee for this service.

The phone is located on the shoulder of I-75 just north of the Jamet Street exit to Mackinaw City (near Audies Restaurant). You do not need to exit the freeway. Just past the exit, you can pull over to the right and park on the shoulder. The phone box is located on the right-of-way fencing. The box is green and easily spotted. If this is still unclear, please call us at 906-643-7600.

View Blondieyooper’s photo background big and see more in her Gotta Love Winter slideshow.

Lots more about the Mighty Mac on Michigan in Pictures.

February at the Eben Ice Caves

Eben Ice Cave Entry

Ice Cave Entry, photo by Eric Hackney

On the Pure Michigan blog, guest blogger Jesse Land of Things To Do in the U.P. details how to get to the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, writing in part:

Just outside of Marquette County, the Eben Ice Caves are one of Michigan’s prime winter attractions. Each winter, once the ice caves start to freeze up (usually sometime in December), visitor’s flock to the tiny town of Eben Junction to see the ice caves and, while they’re out there, support local businesses like the Eben Ice Caves concession stand, the Rock River Cafe and the New Moon Tavern.

The “Rock River Canyon Ice Caves” better known as the Eben Ice Caves, form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves” Much like the large ice formations along Munising’s Grand Island and parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, if you were to visit here in the summer you would see little to no water running over the edge.

Sometimes I feel like Eric spends his time at all the cool Michigan places I never seem to make it to. View his photo bigger and see more in his 2-5-16: Eben Ice Caves II slideshow. Readers who are on the ball will wonder about #1 in the series – here’s 1-31-15: Eben Ice Caves that also includes pics of Munising Falls, MNA Memorial Falls and Tannery Falls!

Read more about the Eben Ice Caves in this Michigan in Pictures post featuring Nina of Black Coffee at Sunrise.

Happy Birthday Holland: Looking back on the Holland Channel

Looking Back on the Holland Channel

Looking Back at the Holland Channel, photo by Sandy Hansen Photography

February 9th is the 169th anniversary of the founding of Holland, Michigan. The History of Holland has some background about one of the prime factors for the city’s success, the Holland Channel:

From its very beginnings, Holland provided a refuge for those seeking freedom of expression and a more vibrant economy. Persuaded by religious oppression and economic depression, a group of 60 men, women, and children, led by Albertus C. VanRaalte, prepared for their 47-day trip from Rotterdam to New York. VanRaalte intended to purchase land in Wisconsin, but travel delays and an early winter caused the group to layover in Detroit. After hearing about available lands in west Michigan, VanRaalte decided to scout the territory. They reached their destination on February 9, 1847 on the banks of Black Lake—today’s Lake Macatawa.

The hundreds of Dutch immigrants that followed expected to find their promised land, but instead found a swamp and insect-infested forest. Although food was scarce, and the log sheds they built were unable to hold everyone, the settlers persevered. VanRaalte realized the practical and economic potential of the dense forest: trees could be felled to build homes and businesses, while the excess lumber could be sold to purchase farming supplies.

In the early years of Holland history, the settlers set out to conquer several projects. They knew that if Lake Michigan was to provide growth and development, it had to be made accessible by an adequate channel. After trying in vain to receive government aid, the determined Hollanders took up picks and shovels and went about digging the channel themselves. The immigrants also cleared a one-block square of land in the center of the colony—today’s Centennial Park—to serve as a market square.

Read on for more and click for a live webcam of the Holland Channel.

View Sandy’s photo bigger, see more in her Aerial slideshow, and follow her on Facebook too!

More aerial photos and more from Holland on Michigan in Pictures.

Back into the freezer, Michigan

Ice Palace Grand Haven Lighthouse

Winter Wonderland, photo by David Behrens

mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa says that severe & sustained cold temps plus heavy lake effect snow are coming to Michigan this week:

Most of the heavy lake effect this winter has come on a northwest wind. The lake effect this week will be brought by a more northerly wind. So the lake effect will fall closer to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The heaviest snow will likely fall in the far southwest corner of Lower Michigan from St. Joseph to Michigan City, IN and South Bend, IN. Also heavy lake effect should fall from Traverse City, Leelanau County and southward to just west of Cadillac.

The heaviest areas of lake effect snow should easily have 6″ of snow, with spots getting up to a foot of snow.

…No area will escape the deep cold. This cold snap won’t be like the other cold snaps this winter that only lasted a few days. This cold snap will start Tuesday and gradually get colder each day into next weekend. By the time temperatures bottom out this weekend, we’ll freeze with highs in the teens and low temperatures in the single digits above or below zero.

The wind will push wind chill temperatures down to -10° to -20° at times in the second half of the week.

David took this last winter at Grand Haven. Check it out bigger and see more in his Home Sweet Home slideshow.

More about the Grand Haven Pier Light along with a crazy photo of the waves that make these ice formations on Michigan in Pictures!

Blue Hour at the St Joseph Pier

Blue Hour at the St Joseph Pier

Untitled, photo by Spencer D Hughes

If you want to take a look at the Pier from the beach, check out the St Joseph webcam. Have a great weekend everyone!!

View Spencer’s photo bigger and see more of his awesome St Joseph photos. Some seriously cool ice shots in there.

PS: Here’s a link to more information and a photo of the St. Joseph North Pier Outer & Inner Lights from almost exactly a year ago – lots more ice.

PPS: I’d love it if you’d become a patron of Michigan in Pictures. Thanks to all who have so far – I really appreciate it!

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.

#TBT: Winter Comes to Michigan

1930s Michigan Snowplow

1930s Snowplow, via Michigan Highway Department (now MDOT)

The Michigan Department of Transportation shared this awesome newsreel from the 1930s featuring all kinds of winter fun including ski jumping. Their predecessor, the Michigan Highway Department also used the video to talk up Michigan’s road system and winter road maintenance.

It was discovered by Nancy and Barbara Sleeper of Newberry, daughters of former Luce County Road Commission superintendent Sanborn Sleeper, and it’s super awesome!