Labor Day bridges summer to fall

Karen Wils photo Family at the Mackinac Bridge in August of 1959.

ESCANABA — What would Labor Day weekend be to us Michiganders without thinking about bridges?

The famous Mackinac Bridge walk event is nearly 60 years old!

Over 25,000 people take part in this high-water hike every year. Similar bridge walks on a smaller scale have taken place on the Cornell Bridge and the Cedar River Bridge.

The bridges of Delta County have certainly been in the news a lot lately.

All of us are eagerly waiting the reopening of the “finished” Escanaba River Bridge on Highway US-2 & 41 and M-35, between Gladstone and Escanaba.

Karen Wils photo The Mackinac Bridge.

Road construction and bridge reconstruction have ticked away more than a few minutes of our summertime this year.

Farther upstream on the Escanaba River, the bridge that crosses the river at St. Nicholas (Robin Road) is closed for repairs too.

Being one that frequents the Perkins/Cornell area and the Escanaba/Gladstone area, I’ve asked the question more than once: do I need wading shoes or a swimsuit to visit friends on the other side?

From cussing about the Cut River Bridge detour in the eastern U.P to waiting in line at the Escanaba River, summer projects can be time consuming.

But, oh how wonderful it will be when the road is smooth and new!

Labor Day is for all the hard workers like those who are out in the heat and humidity working on our roads and bridges. It is for the working man and woman in the fields, forests, factories and offices all over the country.

The three-day weekend in the waning days of summer is greatly appreciated by all kinds of workers. It is known as the last hurrah of summer.

Camps and campgrounds are full. Parks are filled with picnickers. Families jump in the car and go for a ride. Some of the popular destinations when I was a kid were Big Springs, Fayette, Indian Lake and the Mackinac Bridge.

I’m always reminded of the story of the first time my family went to visit the bridge. The Mighty Mac was newly opened and I had to stay home with a babysitter. I was only a few months old. Mom got out her old Brownie instamatic camera and took photos of family members with feet in the water near the bridge in St. Ignace.

So, now I tell my kids that yes, I’m nearly as old as the Mackinac Bridge. It’s hard for them to even imagine a time when it wasn’t there and ferry boats carried cars across the straits.

Well, I’ve gotten even for being left out of the first bridge visit by visiting several times with my children.

On a recent visit to the bridge, my daughter sat on the same spot as my older brothers fifty-some years ago!

Bridges are more than landmarks, they are time markers too. How much we have changed in fifty years.

Labor Day brings us to the end of another summer, but also bridges us to another awesome autumn!