Monday, July 18, 2011

The Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City

Mackinaw City is located about 30 minutes north of Petoskey on the famous Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The straits are about 5 miles wide and until fairly recently, the only way across was by car ferry or boat. However, in 1957, the Mackinac Bridge, or Big Mac was finished and what a bridge it is!

We had traveled over it on the way to Petoskey from Sault Ste. Marie, but really could not get an idea of the side view until we came back to Mackinaw City, at the southern end of the bridge. Over 26,000' long, the bridge soars over 200' high in the center. The longest span is over 3,800' long and some 12,000 vehicles pass over it daily! Needless to say,Rick was impressed!

Mackinaw City is also a main terminal for ferry boats running to Mackinac Island, a few miles away. Mackinac is famous for the fact that they allow no motorized vehicles of any kind on the island and rely on horses and bicycles only.

There seems to be quite a bit of competition on the ferry runs with at least three firms making the run. Here, two competing ferries zoom by each other.

Each ferry has a different operation -- this one, the Star lines, features a streaming rooster tail on all its ferry boats. Arnold Ferry offered catamarans and each touted its superiority. We enjoyed watching the boats buzz back and forth and perhaps will take a ride later on.

We found a great pier to walk out on and enjoy another beautiful day. If fact, while most of the country is suffering from 100+ degree weather, we have had low 80's as a high most days. I can see why this has been a very popular summer destination for many years.

Orinda seems pretty happy with the day and is standing in front of the old dock area. If you look closely behind her, you can see a huge dent in the end of the pier -- I will bet there is an interesting boat docking story there sometime in the past!

Not surprisingly, the Straits have been a strategic shipping passage for many years. Unfortunately, these are shoal waters and many ships were lost in the dangerous area. To increase shipping safety, the Mackinac Point Lighthouse was built and opened in 1892. It was operated until 1957, which was the same year that the bridge was completed -- I guess that provided plenty of light by itself. Today, the lighthouse is a museum and allows you to travel back to a much earlier time.

No comments: