A 50-Year Chronicle, 1957 – 2007
The stories of what has taken place on and around the Mackinac Bridge during the past 50 years are told through words and pictures in a new book named a Michigan Notable Book for 2008.
“Mackinac Bridge - A 50-Year Chronicle, 1957-2007” is a more than 200-page tribute to the Mackinac Bridge and its colorful 50-year history, according to the book's author, Mike Fornes.
“The Mackinac Bridge means Michigan to so many people,” he said. “Over the past 50 years there have been some pretty incredible stories that have taken place on the bridge, over it and underneath it. I wanted to tell the stories in one history that would encompass the time frame of 1957 to 2007.”
He was inspired to write the book for those who care for the bridge and have been involved in its history.
“This book is about the Mackinac Bridge,” Fornes said. “At the same time, it is a book about people. There are people who crossed the bridge, crossed under it and over it. Nearly all completed their journeys safely, but some did not. However, the theme that continually rang true while writing this work was that remarkable people have cared for this bridge since it opened in 1957. Without them, the Mackinac Bridge would be like so many other public or government-run facilities - sort of anonymous in the sense that they are not cared for in the same way as the Mighty Mac.”
Nearly 400 photographs, charts, graphs and images are included in the book. Fornes said the book took him about three years to write, during which he researched many accounts of significant happenings relating to the Mackinac Bridge.
“The bridge has seen some pretty comical episodes over the years, some very interesting events and without question some serious tragedies,” Fornes said. “There have been three births up there, you know. The deaths that have occurred have given the bridge perhaps its most public moments. All have stories behind them that took quite a bit of research to tell.
“I received tremendous cooperation from bridge workers, past and present, and administrators too,” he added. “Many members of police agencies stepped up to help me get the facts from their reports.”
The book includes 21 chapters ranging from milestone crossings to accidents that have occurred on the bridge to stories from tollbooth collectors.
“The toll collectors are a special group of people,” Fornes noted. “They have a window on the world that is unique in the human contact they see each day. Boy, did they have some stories to tell, and they are all in one chapter titled ‘Tollbooth Tales.' I thought they were hilarious and I think people will really enjoy reading about the things that have happened at the tollbooths.”
The book's foreword was written by Lawrence A. Rubin, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority from 1950 to 1984, who also wrote two books himself on the construction and the political process of getting the bridge built.
“Mike Fornes has completed a monumental task in writing the history of the Mackinac Bridge since it opened 50 years ago,” Rubin noted. “I said in 1985 when writing my own book about the bridge's construction years that it was my intent to report in detail the events from 1950 to 1957 that led to the opening of the Mackinac Bridge. Mike has picked up the task of reporting 50 years of happenings on the bridge from there and has documented a great story about a magnificent structure.”