Jun 26-20

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2020: June: Jun 26-20
Houghton Waterfront    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Judy Byykkonen
Flowers on the Path    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Judy Byykkonen
Ripley Smelter    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Judy Byykkonen
Mt. Ripley Ski Hill in Green    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Judy Byykkonen
Keweenaw Crossing - Michigan's Elevator Bridge    ...click to play video
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Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 05:23 am:

The women’s group, WIND (Women in New Directions) is back at it again, but they’re meeting outdoors where it’s easy to practice social distancing. Their adventure last week was a kayaking session on the Portage Canal, where Judy Byykkonen snapped a few photos of the Houghton Waterfront path, complete with a small pavilion where folks can sit in the shade and have a picnic and pretty flowers to brighten your day.

Then Judy switched her attention to the Ripley side of the paddling and snapped a photo of the Ripley Smelter campus that holds plenty of Copper Country mining history. The bottom photo gives you a summer look at the Mt. Ripley Ski Hill, all decked out in green. Somehow it looks a bit more daunting to me, than when it’s covered in white.

Today’s video is a longer one, just under 30 minutes, but if you have the time to give it a watch, it’s a quite interesting documentary film that MDOT produced, detailing the history and engineering challenges of building the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, one of the world’s heaviest and widest double-deck vertical-lift spans.

By James W. Hird (Wvyooper) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 01:37 pm:

A bit long but after all it shows a 2 year construction to replace the old steel swing bridge. I can imagine the waits on small boats going under the old swinging bridge causing it to be swung for even small pleasure craft.

I especially was interested in the construction of the one island on what I believe is the Hancock side. I had no idea how much trouble they had to go through in the late 50s to put in the foundation for that support. Sandhogs no less in Da Copper Country. Who knew!

Also interested that the bridge was done by American Bridge of US Steel who I eventually ended up working for. It was one of their other divisions, US Steel Mining coal, after attending Tech's mining department and previously graduating earlier with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Found it fascinating from an engineering view that they first bolted the bridge together to pull the pieces together and later replaced the bolts with rivets. I never grew up with riveted construction so I never knew that was a procedure. Truly a lost art in construction.

I wonder if it was ever lost the distinction of being the heaviest bridge of its type in the world. I am sure someone or Google will know.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 04:52 pm:

James W. Hird (Wvyooper):
"…I wonder if it was ever lost the distinction of being the heaviest bridge of its type in the world. I am sure someone or Google will know."

It's a bit hard to identify the heaviest one, but here are a few candidates:

1 A Mechanical Engineer would probably find the Structurae web site quite interesting!

Check out (click →) Structurae's pictures of Vertical lift bridges — all six pages of'em!
FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 05:02 pm:

P.S.: Having been at da Tech while that bridge construction project was under way, I have always loved that bridge construction video.

I'm sure glad it has been preserved!

By D. A. (Midwested) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 05:36 pm:

Although the Arthur Kill bridge (Staten Island, NY to New Jersey) is only single deck, it's fairly easy to imagine it's lift section is heavier than the Portage Lake bridge since it is slightly more than twice as long. It's railroad only and interesting to note it is only used to carry garbage out of NY. Another interesting thing is the Arthur Kill bridge has the same year of completion (1959) as the Portage Lake bridge, so the PL bridge claim as heaviest may have been short lived.

It appears the bridge world's record club is a tightly knit and vain group. The vast majority of documentation qualify their claims with "when completed" with no updates as to the current place on the list or the current "winner".

One other interesting thing I discovered was that the Portage Lake crossing was originally (1876) an ALL WOODEN swing span, replaced in 1895 with the steel swing bridge, later destroyed in 1905 by a ship and a sleepy/distracted bridge operator (he said he never heard the whistle). It appears the Keweenaw was "isolated" for almost 1 year. In 1920 a near miss by a ship only destroyed the telephone cabling into Hancock via an emergency dropping of their anchor.

By D. A. (Midwested) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 05:53 pm:

I forgot the link to the website containing a picture of the original wooden bridge.

I was disappointed the Structurae website did not include the Portage Lake bridge.

By Uncle Chuck (Unclechuck) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 06:41 pm:

Nice Pic's!! When we U.P. not too long ago, my
better half and I sat at a picnic table right
between the bridge and the pavilion and enjoyed a
pizza from the Ambassador. They have made
beautiful improvements all along there!!

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 08:40 pm:

D. A. (Midwested):
"… I was disappointed the Structurae website did not include the Portage Lake bridge"

Oh, but lookie here:
(click →) Structurae|Structures & Large-Scale Projects. (Using the search feature.)

Click each link therein for more.
(I dunno why each one is shown twice.)

Some other relevant sites:
(click →) Bridgehunter.com: Portage Lake Bridge.
(click →) Michigan DOT: US-41 / Portage Lake.
(click →) The Copper Range Railroad: Three Spans over the Portage.

P.S.: The parent site of the latter reference is a priceless trove of local history, see: (click →) Copper Range railroad.

You could spend hours — no, days — perusing that gem!
Alex "UP-Goldwinger" (Alex) on Friday, June 26, 2020 - 11:05 pm:

Unfortunately, my only take on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge is; How many times did Wing leave tread marks on it while crossing? I left behind a lot of rubber on that gateway to the Keweenaw.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Saturday, July 11, 2020 - 07:07 pm:

Another great view while kayaking the Portage.
So much to see UP there

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