Mackinac Bridge Walk Celebrates 60 Years

Each Labor Day, tens of thousands of pedestrians from Michigan and beyond gather in the Straits of Mackinac to take part in one of the state’s most significant annual events: The Mackinac Bridge Walk. This year’s event will take place on Monday, September 4.


The Mackinac Bridge Walk was started and took place in late June 1958 during the Bridge’s dedication ceremony, led by Governor G. Mennen Williams. That first year only 68 people walked across the bridge. The walk was changed to Labor Day in 1959, and for the first few years, participants in the walk alternated north and south in consecutive years. The St. Ignace to Mackinaw City (north-to-south) route became a constant in 1964.

In an average year, 40,000 to 65,000 people participate in the five-mile walk—nearly the combined population of the three counties connected by the bridge (Emmet, Cheboygan and Mackinac). The record number of walkers is estimated at 85,000 in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush participated. Over the past 60 years, it is estimated the collective number of walkers is over 2 million.

The “Mighty Mac” is currently the third largest suspension bridge in the world. Construction began in May 1954 (with official ceremonies taking place in both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City) and was completed in 1957. The first private car to cross the bridge—1951 Chevrolet Styleline De Luxe station wagon driven by Al Carter of Chicago—did so on November 1 that year. That vehicle is on permanent display inside the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

For information about the history of the Mackinac Bridge (including some interesting facts and figures about its size and construction, check out the official website of the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

Motorists who are delayed in their crossing of the Mackinac Bridge on Monday, September 4 are invited to explore some of Mackinaw City’s unique attractions, including (but not limited to):

For lodging reservations for the Labor Day weekend, or throughout the fall season, visit