It’s been over fifty-five years since the Mackinac Bridge’s completion. It took years of planning and construction to reach that moment.
The photo above reflects some of the effort involved. Richard L. Tyler took it in October, 1955. He labeled it “Erecting Pier 20.” At the time, Tyler was a Geological Inspector for the David B. Steinman Company.
David B. Steinman
David B. Steinman was the engineer who designed the bridge. Many considered him “the world’s foremost bridge designer and engineer.” He had a hand in designing over four hundred bridges worldwide, but considered the Mighty Mac his “crowning achievement.” (Click David B. Steinman to read the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor description of Steinman.) An American Society of Civil Engineers biography notes that Steinman designed the Mackinac Bridge with stiffened trusses and open-grid airways, allowing it to withstand higher wind velocities. (Click American Society of Civil Engineers to read this biography.)
Construction officially began at St. Ignace and Mackinaw City on May 7 and 8, 1954. The Mackinac Bridge Authority’s web site notes that the operation involved “the largest bridge construction fleet ever assembled.” 3,500 men toiled in the Straits and an additional 7,500 worked off site – at quarries, shops, mills and other venues. Their labor produced a structure five miles in total length. The actual suspension length (i.e., the length of the bridge between anchorages) is a remarkable 8,614 feet! The Mackinac Bridge weighs a total of 1,024,500 tons, and the main towers jut 552 feet above the water (These facts – and more – can be found at the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s official web site.).
The Mighty Mac officially opened for traffic on November 1, 1957.