Monday, May 2, 2011

Mackinac Island Trip

Late last week I drove down to Holt to pick up copies of the second printing of the agate book. After visiting with friends, I headed to Mackinac Island for the 23rd meeting of our All-Nighters Woman's group. To get back to the U.P., you of course have to drive across the Mackinac Bridge.

Here is some information about the history and facts regarding the bridge:

On July 1, 1888, the board of directors of the famous Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island held their first meeting and the minutes show that Cornelius Vanderbilt said: "We now have the largest, well-equipped hotel of its kind in the world for a short season business. Now what we need is a bridge across the Straits."

During the ensuing years there were a few far fetched ideas about the connection of Michigan's two peninsulas. In 1920 the state highway commissioner suggested a floating tunnel. He invited other engineers to suggest ideas for crossing the Straits. Mr. C. E. Fowler of New York City came forward with an ambitious project to solve the problem with a series of bridges and causeways that would start at Cheboygan, some 17 miles southeast of Mackinaw City, traverse Bois Blanc and Round Islands, touch the southern tip of Mackinac Island, and leap across the deep channel at St. Ignace.

In 1923 the Legislature ordered the State Highway Department to establish a ferry service at the Straits. A feasibility study was also initiated to determine if a bridge could be built. Early in 1934 the matter was again revived and proposed as a suitable public works project. In the extra session of 1934 the Legislature created the Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority of Michigan and empowered it to investigate the feasibility of such construction and to finance the work by issuance of revenue bonds. The Authority began its studies in May 1934 and has been continuously active since that date. Finally the designs were drawn up and financing was secured. The bridge was officially begun amid proper ceremonies on May 7 & 8, 1954, at St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. The bridge opened to traffic on November 1, 1957 according to schedule. The last of the Mackinac Bridge bonds were retired July 1, 1986. Fare revenues are now used to operate and maintain the Bridge and repay the State of Michigan for monies advanced to the Authority since the facility opened to traffic in 1957.

Total Length of Bridge (5 Miles) 26,372 Ft. 8,038 Meters
Total Length of Steel Superstructure 19,243 Ft. 5,865 Meters
Length of Suspension Bridge (including Anchorages) 8,614 Ft. 2,626 Meters
Height of Main Towers above Water 552 Ft 168.25 Meters
Maximum Depth of Water at Midspan 295 Ft. 90 Meters
Maximum Depth of Tower Piers below Water 210 Ft. 64 Meters
Height of Roadway above Water at Midspan 199 Ft. 61 Meters
Underclearance at Midspan for Ships 155 Ft. 47 Meters
Maximum Depth of Water at Piers 142 Ft. 43 Meters
Maximum Depth of Piers Sunk through Overburden 105 Ft. 32 Meters
Total Length of Wire in Main Cables 42,000 Miles 67,592 km

After the drive and not long after arriving, I just had to go for a walk. Friend Dianna Bell and I walked up the hill and back down toward the Grand Hotel. Although the hotel will not open officially until May 6th, there was a geocashing group staying at the hotel so the doors were open. We decided to walk through so I could take some photos. The hotel opened in 1887. It now has 385 rooms.  No two rooms in the hotel are decorated the same.

As we walked around, we noticed that the Audubon Wine Tasting Room was open.  Whaldy from Montego Bay, Jamaica was a great server and very helpful in helping us to explain a little about what it is like to work at The Grand and live on the island.  This was his fifth season.

More images from The Grand.

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