Bridge, balloon & a prison break


Story by Larry Chabot

Illustrations by Mike McKinney

Finally, a bridge over the Mackinac Straits, that five-mile-wide waterway separating Michigan’s two peninsulas! Pre-bridge frustrations abounded, like 15-mile-long lines of hunters waiting to cross, line jumpers paying the penalty as angry drivers picked up offenders’ cars and turned them around, local residents car-sitting (for a fee) for hunters who left their vehicles for whatever. Locals also worked the lines selling food and drink. At one time long ago, gas tanks were emptied for safety reasons before drivers paid $40 to ride the ferry (they never got their gas back). LeRoy Barnett’s story in Michigan History Magazine in 2007 is full of such tales.

On November 1, 1957, Mighty Mac formally opened. A cavalcade of dignitaries was led by Gov. G. Mennen Williams, whose wife was at the wheel and paid the $3.25 toll because the governor forgot his license. Negaunee’s Frank Matthews and his wife slipped in behind the dignitaries in their station wagon festooned with…

To read the full story, please pick up a copy of this months Marquette Monthly at one of our distribution outlets.


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