On Top of The Mackinac Bridge

1884 was when the first known talk about building a bridge across the

Straights of Mackinac took place. The idea died a quick death because the nearly five mile distance between the two Michigan Peninsulas was thought to be an impossible distance to cover. For the next 70 plus years ferry service remained the sole method of transportation across the water. The bridge idea was re-introduced in 1934 and design work for a bridge continued until the start of World War II. The final and successful push to build the bridge was made in 1950.

Once financing was in place construction began on May 7, 1954. After nearly three and a half years of construction, the Mackinac Bridge, the then longest suspension bridge in the world, was opened to traffic on November 1, 1957.

The total length of the bridge is 26,372 feet of which 8,614 feet are suspended. The 762 foot tall towers, 210 feet below the water line and 552 feet above, are 3,800 feet apart.

Over a 150 million vehicles carrying millions and millions of people have used the bridge to travel between Michigan's two peninsulas in the 50 plus years since. But not many people have been to the very top of the bridge. Let alone twice!!

Mike's first trip to the top of the Big Mac was in 2004 when he experienced the climb with his daughter and her husband, Kim and Jeff Mitchell, and his good friend Mark Kraus and his son Scott.

The next year, 2005, Sandy joined Mike on the climb to the top of the Big Mac Bridge.

Mackinac Bridge in the bridge office

The journey to the top of the Big Mac starts in the bridge superintendent's office where Bob Sweeney gave us the do's and don'ts of being on the bridge. Instructions of how to go through the small openings inside the superstructure of the bridge came in real handy once the adventure began.

With the waivers signed, safety vests put on and all instructions understood we were transported out to the South Tower by police car. Normally when people are going up the tower a lane of traffic has to be closed, but today maintenance was being done on the bridge, so we were not to blame for slowing down the flow of traffic.

On the deck of the Mackinac Bridge

Once on the bridge deck we had to cross the 54 foot wide roadway to the entrance hatch on the East side of the tower.

Mackinac Bridge Sandy through entrance hatch
Mackinac Bridge in elevator

The way to the top of the bridge is through the interior of the tower. The trip began's by climbing over the guard rail then squeezing through the exterior hatch. Transportation most of the way up is by way of an elevator about half the size of an airplane lavatory.

Mackinac Bridge up the inner ladder

The elevator stops well short of the top of the tower leaving a series of ladders to be climbed along with squeezing through some very small openings.

Mackinac Bridge through cross room

The towers are made up of a bunch of steel boxes help together with over 4 million rivets. Following our climb up the first series of ladders we had to cross through a few of the boxes in order to get to the next set of ladders.

Mackinac Bridge directions

On the wall just above the opening of the final box are written instructions. While the words may seem silly, it is very easy to get twisted around and turn the wrong way inside the tower. Just ask Mike.

Mackinac Bridge final inside ladder

The left turn leads to the last set of ladders. When the outside hatch is closed this section of the travel way is in total darkness so a guide rope is in place for the first person to follow.

Mackinac Bridge coming thru the top

Coming out on the very top of the bridge tower is the result of all the climbing and squeezing. The total time traversing inside the tower to get from the roadway to the top is about 20 minutes.

Mike and Sandy on top of the Mackinac Bridge

552 feet above the Straights of Mackinac stands the Mighty Dual of Sandy and Mike

Mackinac Bridge view from the top

Looking north, towards the Upper Peninsular, is a view very few people have had the pleasure of experiencing. The North Tower is 3,800 feet away.

Looking down from top of the Mackinac Bridge

The roadway more than 400 feet below. Even the semi's look very small.

looking towards Mackinaw City

Mackinaw City is at the South end of the bridge. The 24-1/2 inch diameter main support cables hold most of the 42,000 miles of cable needed to construct the bridge.

Sandy on top of the Mackinac Bridge

From below the tower appears to be very wide, but on top it is very narrow.

On top of the Mackinac Bridge

While Sandy has been to the top once, Mike has been up twice. On his first trip he was joined by his friend Mark Kraus, Mike and Sandy's Son-In-Law Jeff Mitchell, Mark's son Scott and Mike and Sandy's daughter Kim Mitchell.

If given the chance, we are all looking forward to our next trip to the top.

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