Building the Mackinac Bridge
May 7, 1954 - November 1, 1957
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Mackinac Bridge 1958 Dedication
The Mackinac Bridge Home

Mackinac Bridge Consturction 1956
The Mackinac Bridge designed by Dr. David B. Steinman
Construction of the Mackinac Bridge begins in 1954 at what was the parking lot for Michilimackinac State Park. The metal structure
is one of eight land based survey towers, which were used along with six water based towers.
After more than 70 years of dreams, with many different plans for bridging the Straits of Mackinac, ground breaking to build the Mackinac Bridge took place in St. Ignace on May 7, 1954 and Mackinaw City on May 8. The photos on this page are from slides taken by my father, Lester Stokes, who lived less than a block from the foot of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City, and worked on the State Dock which served the automobile ferries until November 1, 1957, when the Mackinac Bridge opened and ferry service was discontinued. Most of his photos were accidentally lost a few years ago, but these few weren't stored with the others.

Construction of the Mackinac Bridge began with the construction of the pillars. Caissons were constructed, floated into position and sunk to provide the footings for the two immense towers which would suspend the center span of the bridge. Once the caissons were in place, creeper derricks were added, which raised materials to erect the towers and continued to climb higher.

The Mackinac Bridge roadway truss sections were assembled in sections and floated into position to be raised into place.

Constructing the Mackinac Bridge actually went on into 1958 and took 48 months, 3,500 workers, 895,000 blueprints & structural drawings, 71,300 tons of structural steel, 931,000 tons of concrete, 42,000 miles of cable wire, 4,851,700 steel rivets, 1,016,600 steel bolts and 99,800,000 dollars. There were 350 engineers and another 7,500 men & women worked at quarries, shops, mills and other locations.

When completed, the Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world and it is currently the longest suspension bridge in North & South America and the third longest suspension bridge in the world.

Mackinac Bridge home

  Mackinac Bridge groundbreaking 50th Anniversary

Mackinac Bridge 50th Anniversay parade and fireworks 50th Anniversary of opening the Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge construction barges and crane equipment
Construction of the piers for the south end of the Mackinac Bridge, with Mackinac Island and Bois Blanc Island in the distance.

Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation Mohawk crane
Crane and barrage used in the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation's $25,735,600
contract to build all of the bridge's foundations resulted in the assembly of the largest bridge construction fleet ever assembled
up to that time.

Sunset and base of Mackinac Bridge tower
The base of one of the Mackinac Bridge Towers being constructed within a 116' diameter caisson.

Mackinac Bridge anchorage and sunset
Dredging barge with the south anchorage of the Mackinac Bridge at left.

Early Mackinac Bridge construction and Great Lakes freighter
This is in mid summer 1955 and steel workers are assembling the two prefabricated main Mackinac Bridge towers.

Mackinac Bridge construction with auto ferries
Notice the automobile ferries in the background with the black smoke coming from the coal fired engines

freighter and Mackinac Bridge construction
The Mackinac Bridge towers are complete and the first two truss sections are in place at the two anchorages. This is very late in the
1955 work season or early in 1956.

BUilding the Mackinac Bridge 0 winter
Mackinac Bridge construction goes on hold during the winter of 1955-56.

Mackinac Bridge construction in winter
This small park at the end of Sinclair Street is still a popular Mackinac Bridge viewing place today.

Mackinac Bridge construction in Mackinaw City, Michigan
Work has not yet begun on the Mackinac Bridge approach and Michilimackinac State Park is still largely unaffected.

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Copyright 1954 - 2013 by  Keith Stokes. These photos may not be reproduced without written permission. .