Ironworkers Walk of Fame Memorial Construction Moves Forward

Mackinac Bridge

Ironworkers Walk of Fame Memorial Construction Moves Forward

In 2007, at the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge, a statue of an iron worker was unveiled to honor the work of the men who built the bridge.

The idea of putting up our own monument started snowballing after the 50th anniversary celebration," says McFarland, who is coordinating the effort. Noting the annual Iron Workers festival held in town, she said, "Mackinaw City has always embraced iron workers. So we asked ourselves, "Why haven't we done this yet?"

Construction of the Ironworkers Walk of Fame, a memorial honoring the union ironworkers who built the Mackinac Bridge, and all those across the United States and Canada, is now well on its way in Mackinaw City. The Ironworkers Walk of Fame is designed to recognize the Union Ironworker, and Mackinac Bridge Bridgman of North America, by incorporating the brick paver concept currently used throughout the village of Mackinaw City, Michigan.

The first phase of the project consisted of the selling of brick pavers. Bricks are engraved with the names of the men who built the bridge - from any trade as well as any iron worker from North America. Marilyn McFarland, the former Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau director, says families of deceased trades workers are invited to submit the names of loved ones to be engraved as well.

To purchase a brick paver and become an inductee on the Ironworkers Walk of Fame, visit www.walkofiron.com.

The second phase consists of the placement of a 25ft globe crafted of I-beams and three 7ft Ironworker characters, two men and one woman, constructed of ironworker tools and components. Moran Iron Works of Onaway Michigan will complete the fabrication and construction of the monument phase. The monument will be built in stages beginning with a stand-alone character placed in front of the globe structure which will be unveiled during this year's Ironworkers Festival on August 13, 2010 in Mackinaw City. Impact-Net

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Local Union News

Pavers to Recognize Mighty Mac Workers

Statue of Ironworker by Mackinaw Bridge

MACKINAW CITY - In 2007, at the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge, a statue of an iron worker was unveiled to honor the work of the men who built the bridge.

Now, five miles south across the Straits of Mackinac, the Village of Mackinaw City is undertaking its own effort to honor iron workers and other tradesmen who built the "Mighty Mac." The village is selling engraved brick pavers that will create a "Walk of Fame" at a planned monument honoring Mackinac Bridge construction workers.

"The idea of putting up our own monument started snowballing after the 50th anniversary celebration," said Marilyn McFarland, formerly of the Mackinaw City Visitors Bureau, who is coordinating the effort. Noting the annual Iron Workers festival held in town, she said, "Mackinac City has always embraced iron workers. So we asked ourselves, 'Why haven't we done this yet?' "

It will be erected along North Huron Ave. between Colonial Michilimackinac and the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse historic parks, but it has not been determined what the monument will be. McFarland said a committee of iron workers will decide - perhaps a lighted 40-foot beam, or maybe an iron worker statue.

The first phase of the project is selling brick pavers. McFarland said a minimum of 300 pavers need to sold to help determine the project's size and scope. Bricks can be engraved with the names of the men who built the bridge - from any trade. Also invited to have their names engraved are any iron worker from North America. She said families of deceased trades workers are invited to submit the names of loved ones to be engraved.

As part of the effort, Mackinac Bridge workers are also asked to indicate five favorite jobs that they worked on, that will be incorporated into a related website, www.walkofiron.com, and possibly a living history display at the site.

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Fun Facts and Information

Mackinac Bridge

The Mackinac Bridge 

The Mighty Mac rising 552 feet (that's 55 stories!) above the Straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Michigan and Huron meet, is the world-famous Mackinac Bridge. Also known as the "Mighty Mac," this engineering marvel is 5 miles long anchor block to anchor block. It held the record as the longest suspension bridge in the world for half a century!

Before the Mackinac Bridge was constructed, travelers between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas had to cross the Straits via an hour-long ferry ride. On busy weekends, like the start of hunting season or the Fourth of July holiday, carloads of anxious travelers would wait in line as long as 24 hours to catch a ferry.

Mackinac Bridge Facts
Although the bridge was envisioned way back in the late 1800s, Sen. Prentiss M. Brown, Sr., the "Father of the Mackinac Bridge," was the key figure in the bridge construction project. Governor-elect G. Mennen (Soapie) Williams was another strong advocate for the bridge and helped to create the Mackinac Bridge Authority in 1950. The bridge designer was Dr. David B. Steinman and primary construction firms were Merrit-Chapman & Scott and the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel.

Today, the Mackinac Bridge is hailed as one of the most outstanding engineering achievements of the century and leaves people wondering how Michigan ever got along without it! The 100 millionth crossing of the bridge happened on June 25, 1998.

The construction period: 1954-1957
Because the bridge was in a remote area, financing the project was slow and difficult. The total cost of the project was upwards of $100 million (originally estimated at $70 million).

Construction began in 1954 and during the 42 months that followed hundreds of men worked on the various phases of the bridge construction. The first step was to sink the large, double-walled cylinders that form the bases of the two main tower piers. These cylinders are called caissons (cay-sans). The caissons had to be sunk down into the bedrock on the lake floor, a great challenge for the divers involved. When the foundation pillars were finished, the iron workers were brought in to string the massive cabling network! More than 500 workers were housed in St. Ignace, Mich., during this construction period.

A "catwalk" made of cyclone fence enabled the workers to navigate between the bridge towers, high above the lake below. When finished, the cables were close to 25 inches in diameter. Each cable consists of 340 wires banded into a single strand; 37 strands are then assembled into a single cable. To complete the job and add extra strength, a covering is spun around each finished cable. More than 42,000 miles of wire were used in the two main bridge cables!

The last step was to construct the road surface. The inner lane on the middle span of the bridge includes an open grid riding surface. This was installed to allow wind forces to move through the bridge.

http://www.mackinawcity.net/mackinawhistory.php

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