2008-07-26 / Top News

Local Author Mike Fornes Will Recount Bridge Stories

By Caitlyn Kienitz

Mackinaw City author Mike Fornes will discuss the history of the Mackinac Bridge at 4 p.m. Friday, July 25, at the Mackinac Island Public Library. The lecture is the second of three in the library's summer author series.

Mr. Fornes has covered the Mackinac Bridge and the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw for 20 years for several local media outlets, including the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, WCBY, and television channels 7 and 4.

Covering the Mackinac Bridge has always been an enjoyable beat, said Mr. Fornes.

"There are always things happening around the bridge," he said. "Living in Mackinaw City, it was always an area of interest for me."

Mr. Fornes's most recent book "Mackinac Bridge: A 50-Year Chronicle," discusses the bridge's 50 year history. The book was named one of 25 Michigan notable books of 2008.

"A lot of things have happened on the bridge," he said, "funny things, ironic things, tragic things. I'll take people through the 50 year history of the bridge, including things I'm sure everybody will remember, and then things I'm sure people never knew."

One of the incidents Mr. Fornes will discuss is the September 22, 1989, accident in which a car drove off the bridge, a story that he broke after noticing police lights flashing from his dining room window. The accident was named the top Michigan news story of 1989.

"Everybody remembers that the car went off the bridge, but not everybody will know some of the behind the scenes things that happened that day," he said.

Although the bridge has seen its share of tragic events, Mr. Fornes said there are happier stories to tell, too, such as the three babies born on the bridge, and plenty to laugh about.

"There's a lot of humor in the program, and there are certainly some things that happened on the bridge that were funny," he said. "Not everyone will remember that there were once four elephants on the bridge." The elephants were part of a circus visiting St. Ignace.

In addition to writing about the Mackinac Bridge, Mr. Fornes estimates that he has given more than 1,500 tours of the bridge from motorcoaches, cruise boats, and shore-based presentations, and has frequently been an invited speaker and presenter to historical societies and tour groups.

The book, which includes photographs, charts, and images relating to the bridge, took Mr. Fornes about three years to research and write. In addition to this book, Mr. Fornes has written "Images of America: Mackinac Bridge," and "USCGC Mackinaw WAGB 83 - An Illustrated History of a Great Lakes Queen."

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