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Portage Lake Lift Bridge becomes National Landmark

The process started with the work of two students from Michigan Tech University
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 3:30 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - The Portage Lake Lift Bridge is now a National Historic Engineering Landmark, just in time for BridgeFest.

The bridge was designated as such during a ceremony Friday morning by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

This is not the only award that it has received from the organization.

“The bridge has actually received both a State Historic Civil Engineering Award and now the National Historic Award as well,” said ASCE-MI President Andrew Rossella.

The bridge was originally planned to receive this honor in 2020, but the presentation of the award was pushed back because of the pandemic.

The idea to present the bridge with this award began with two Michigan Tech students.

“We were the ones who approached our professor about her being an advisor for us for writing this nomination package,” said MTU Graduate Students of 2019 Emma Beachy and Michael Prast. “So we did all the research and we did the various interviews, compiled all the research, and then put together the actual paperwork to submit.”

To be eligible for the designation, a structure must meet a number of requirements.

“The ASCE requires that the landmark be older than 50 years old, and this bridge was built from 1957 to 1959,” continued Beachy and Prast. “It also has to have historical significance and also have contributed to both the civil engineering profession and contributed to the nation or larger region.”

The bridge has been the sole connection between the mainland and the Keweenaw Peninsula since its construction.

Also in attendance today was Tom Darcy, one of the last remaining members of the bridge construction team. Darcy was one of the bridge’s original designers and is happy to see the structure recognized in this way.

“Well, I would like to just thank MDOT for maintaining the bridge and for keeping in good performance,” said Darcy. “And as I said, I’m so happy to see the local community appreciate the bridge and appreciate my work.”

Free presentations on the bridge and its history will be held at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock this Saturday at 10 A.M.

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