2023 Michigan Road Trip
Mackinac Bridge Tower Tour

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Monday - Day 5 (July 17, 2023)

This morning was the highlight of our trip. Most of my friends know that I grew up in Mackinaw City and the Mackinac Bridge was built a block from my house. We have photos from when I was three, on the bridge with my family before it even opened. It has always been "my bridge," which is the type of attachment that many people have to the Mighty Mac. I have a website and Facebook page devoted to it and the surrounding area.

For decades, I have dreamed of going to the top of the Mackinac Bridge and finally did today. There are only 3 ways to gain a Mackinac Bridge Tower Tour: Be a friend of a Mackinac Bridge Authority employee, be considered a VIP or win one of the 25 tours which are raffled or auctioned by charities each year.

I had purchased the tour through a charity auction in 2020 and Covid had postponed the tour until today. Linda did not wish to accompany me and Angie, who often sends photos to use on the Facebook page, joined me on the tour. Linda, Dennie and Lynn watched from our motel and Linda took photos of us on top of the bridge from our motel room. 

Angie, Bailey (our Mackinac Bridge Authority guide) and I crowded front to back into a tiny elevator, going up most of the way to the top of the south tower and then we climbed through tight, narrow hatches I had to sometimes hand my cameras through before I could squeeze through myself. (photos of this area inside the tower are not permitted) Then up narrow ladders and through a hamster like maze to go up through a hatch in the floor and suddenly get a breathtaking first view from 552 feet above the water. I was so blown away by the contrast that I took my first photos while still in the hatch. 

I had two cameras and, not being sure how much time we had, I started snapping away from various angles with first one camera and then the other. Angie was also busy taking photos and was kind enough to take pictures of me to preserve the moment. After a little while, I realized we were not being rushed and I slowed down and enjoyed the experience even more. We spent nearly an hour at the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City from the Bridge Tower
My first view as I came through the hatch in the floor at the top of the South Tower

Taking the previous picture before I even leave the hatch

North Mackinac Bridge Tower and St. Ignace
North Tower and the Upper Penninula

Mackinac Island from the top of the Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Island

Mackinac Bridge deck gratting
Looking straight down and through the grating of the Mackinac Bridge roadway

Mackinac Bridge
North tower and Michigan's Upper Peninsula
 Prints of this photo.

Star Line's Mackinac Express from the Mackinac Bridge
Star Line's Mackinac Express passing under the Mighty Mac

Mackinaw City shoreline and harbor
Mackinaw City

Icebreak Mackinac Maritime Museum - retired 290' Mackinaw WAGB-83)

Bailey and Angie

Mackinac Bridge South Tower Saddle
The cables which support the Mackinac Bridge are anchored at the ends, but are not attached to the towers.
They rest in a trough called a cable saddle. Prints of this photo.

Main Cable of the Mackinac Bridge
The Main Cables are 24 1/2 Inches in diameter and assebled in place from 12,580 individula wires/

Mackinac Bridge Anchorage
South Anchorage - the wires in the cables are anchored inside 


Keith and Angie on top of the Mackinac Bridge
Keith Stokes (Mighty Mac webmaster) and Angie (AM) local photographer

Returning to our motel, I was walking on air . Linda, Lynn and Dennie shared their impressions and I shared mine, as well as sharing photos from the top of the bridge and those of the top which Linda had taken. 

Three people on top the Mackinac Bridge Tower
Photo Linda took from our motel on shore

The rest of the day was spent nearby, with lunch at Audie's Restaurant in Mackinaw City which is less than a block from my childhood home. I had fried smelt and Linda had a perch sandwich.

Supper was at Keyhole Bar & Grill on Central Avenue in Mackinaw City. There were many people waiting for tables when we arrived, but the first two parties seated were 14 and 7 people, and the wait wasn't too bad. We had peal and eat shrimp and a whitefish Reuben, but of which were good. I also enjoyed a Triple Jam  Blake's Hard Cider which is made in Armada, Michigan.

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copyright 2023 by Keith Stokes.