This Rare 3D View of the Top of Mackinac Bridge Using Google Maps Street View is Mind-Blowing!

Have you ever imagined what it’s like to stand atop one of Michigan’s most recognizable structures, the Mackinac Bridge? Now, using Google Maps Street View, you can. And you can do it from the comfort of your own living room!

Google Trekker at the top of Mackinac Bridge

We’ve partnered with Google to make many of Michigan’s most iconic destinations accessible to the more than one billion people all around the world who use Google Maps each month.  Using Google Trekker technology, attractions such as the Mackinac Bridge – not previously accessible on Google Street View – now have 360 degree, fully navigable imagery that will allow potential travelers to explore these destinations.

We’re giving our readers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how we captured this truly remarkable footage. Get ready – you’re in for the climb of your life!

What did you think? As you search for the words to describe this breathtaking virtual experience, here’s a behind-the-scenes look into how it all came together.

The Street View Trekker is a backpack system with a camera on top that is worn by an operator who walks through pedestrian walkways or trails on foot. The imagery is captured automatically and stitched together to create the 360 degree panorama seen on Google Maps. More than 44,000 panoramic photos were taken by members and volunteers on the Pure Michigan team and the Department of Natural Resources who borrowed the Trekker and traveled for four weeks, capturing some of the most breathtaking scenes around Michigan.

Google Trekker at Mackinac Island looking at Mackinac Bridge

There are 15 lenses at the top of the mast, each pointed in a different direction that enabled us to create a 360-degree panoramic view. As the operator walks, photos are taken every 2.5 seconds. The Trekker weighs approximately 40 lbs, and is the size of a large hiking backpack. It’s about 4 feet in height when set on the ground, and when worn, the camera system extends 2 feet above the operator’s shoulders.  The Trekker battery can last around 6-8 hours on a full charge.

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So, we strapped on the Trekker and made our way to one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. According to Robert Sweeney, executive director of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, the trek to the top of the bridge can be characterized by feelings of anticipation and exhilaration. The climb starts by navigating a series of small openings, similar to what you would expect on a submarine.

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There are 2,500 cells in each tower that range in size from 6 cubic feet to 60 cubic feet. Needless to say, we ran into a bit of trouble getting the Trekker to the top…

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…But we made it. And the view was 100 percent worth it!

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Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps Street View.

Top of the Mackinac Bridge on Google Maps Street View

Top of the Mackinac Briddge

Are you adventurous enough to make the climb? Each year, the Mackinac Bridge Authority donates 25 certificates to charitable organizations. Each certificate enables two people to take a tour of the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

The public can bid on the certificates or buy raffle tickets (depending on how each organization chooses to handle their fundraising campaign). For more information and a list of participating organizations, send an e-mail to powellm1@michigan.gov or call 906 -643-1336.

Other Michigan destinations available on Google Street View are:  Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Island Loop Route National Water Trail in St. Clair County, the State Capitol building in Lansing, Ford Field, the Detroit Riverwalk, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Wagner Falls, Bond Falls, Silver Lake State Park and Sand Dunes, Palms Brook State Park, Brighton State Recreation Area, Pinckney State Recreation Area, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Ocqueoc Falls in Millersburg, Agate Falls in Trout Creek and the Presque Isle River.

These sites join other natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, the Galapagos Islands and many more available in the Street View feature of Google Maps.

For more information and to view other Michigan destinations on Google Maps Street view, visit michigan.org/GoogleTrekker.

From Our Fans: 15 Telltale Signs of Spring in Michigan

Hello Spring! Today marks the official start of the new season. We asked our fans on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram to tell us how they know that springtime in Michigan has arrived, and per usual, they didn’t disappoint!

8722672937_e1b4010c8c_oYou know it’s springtime in Pure Michigan when…

Michigan Begins to Bloom

When the tulips are blooming in Holland! – Facebook user Mike Riedmiller

The golf courses open! – Facebook user Kyle Ransom

When the farmers plow and plant their crops on acres of Michigan land! – Facebook user Deborah Ann Sutton

It’s Road Tripping Weather

When you can take the ferry to Mackinac Island– Facebook user Laura Hupy Copeland

You “just know” it’s time to head up to the bridge! Can’t wait! – Facebook user Susan Westfall Holloway

MackinacHouseI can hike Michigan trails again! –Instagrammer @nicolesiderius

You Enjoy The Outdoors

When the Tigers game is on the radio – Facebook user Mark Puddy

When the water is crystal clear – Facebook user Megan Holly Dowler

You can swim in Lake Michigan – Facebook user Connie Miller Calabrese

You Indulge in Pure Michigan Delights

When I can go to the wineries and enjoy a bottle outside – Facebook user Chrystal Davis

VineyardFallBell’s Oberon goes on sale! Pass the orange slice. – Facebook user Karl Bloss

You know it’s springtime when it’s warm enough to hang out on the patio at your favorite brewery! –Twitter user @hannahkesh

Winter Slowly Melts Away

You can put your long underwear away – Twitter user @beekaytulsa

Robins, Starlings and Canadian geese!  – Instagrammer @aubreyhall

The snow is finally melting and we can see grass again! – Instagrammer @revv_

What other signs of spring in Michigan would you add? Let us know below!

If you’re looking for more springtime fun, check out our April Events Roundup  and visit michigan.org/events.

Twenty Things You Might Not Have Known About Michigan Agriculture

Today is National Agriculture Day! Guest blogger Barbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, shares 20 little known facts about freshly grown Michigan food and agriculture. 

Barbara and her family on their beet field

Barbara and her family on their sugar beet field

I’ve always been in love with Michigan. I believe it is unparalleled in its diversity of seasons, activities, and food! We are a very active family; we enjoy many things Michigan has to offer including camping, water sports, snowmobiling, and of course, food and farming! On our farm, we produce dairy, beef, corn, wheat, and sugar beets, but I’m always interested in learning more about other commodities.

Did you know Michigan farmers produce 300 different types of food and agricultural products? Michigan is also home to many national brands that you know, love, and trust. Recently, Governor Snyder proclaimed March “Food and Agriculture Month” due to Ag’s positive impact on Michigan’s economy. Check out this list which highlight some of Michigan’s lesser known areas of agriculture.

1. Sugar: Michigan Sugar Company is the only sugar processor in the state. It processes sugar for Pioneer, Big Chief, and more than 20 other private labels. Sugar is important in the production of soda pop, such as Vernor’s and Faygo, which are proud Michigan brands. Our farm grows sugar beets, which are harvested in autumn.

2. Cherries: Michigan ranks 1st in the nation for tart cherry production, and 4th for sweet cherries. Check out this website for more info on Michigan cherry wines. I like to drink a little tart cherry juice right before bedtime.

3. Milk: Michigan ranks 1st in the nation for the production of low fat ice cream mix, but Michigan dairy farmers also contribute to other products such as Hudsonville ice cream, Kraft cheese, Yoplait yogurt, Michigan Made cottage cheese, and Country Fresh sour cream.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.56.34 AM4. Beans: Michigan is 1st in the nation for production of dry black beans, cranberry beans, and small red beans and 2nd for production of all dry beans. Bush’s Beans, based in Tennessee, buys beans from Michigan!

5. Potatoes: Michigan is the nation’s leading producer of potatoes in potato chip processing. Better Made Chips, which just turned 85, are a favorite Michigan brand. We like taking a bag of chips with us on the boat, or in the camper in the summer.

6. Grapes: Michigan has over 100 commercial wineries, and ranks 1st in the nation for production of Niagara grapes and 8th for wine grape production.

7. Nursery: Nursery and perennial plants are the 2nd largest agricultural commodity group in Michigan.

8. Eggs: Michigan egg farmers supply all the eggs to McDonald’s restaurants east of the Mississippi River. Check out this video from McDonald’s. My kids take care of a small flock of laying hens, and they produce enough for us, and a few neighbors, family members, and friends.

9. Blueberries: Michigan is number 1 for production of blueberries for the entire nation and only 600 Michigan family farms do it all! That’s amazing! I like to use blueberries in this breakfast bake. Yum!

5019864379_a35c8468f5_b10. Cucumbers: Michigan ranks number 1 in the nation for production of cucumbers for pickling, and 4th for fresh market cucumbers.

11. Maple syrup: Maple syrup production is the oldest agricultural enterprise in the United States. Right now, in spring, is the time to tap trees! Battel’s Sugar Bush, which is near me, is hosting a tour and pancake breakfast as part of Michigan Maple Weekend.

12. Christmas trees: Michigan supplies 3 million Christmas trees annually to the national market. Real Christmas trees are so beautiful! I love driving past Christmas tree farms in the winter months.

13. Apples: Michigan slices more apples than any other state for use in pies. Michigan also processes apples into applesauce, fresh and shelf-stable apple cider, and apple juice, such as Indian Summer juice which is made in Michigan too! My family loves a cup of fresh cider with a doughnut in autumn.

14. Wheat: Michigan wheat farmers contribute to the national market in a big way, too.  In fact, one of the top 5 counties for producing wheat is Huron, which is where I live! Wheat is used in products from Michigan brands such as Kellogg’s cereals, Aunt Millie’s breads, and Jiffy mixes.

15. Squash: Michigan is 2nd for squash and carrot production, which is good for Michigan companies such as Gerber baby foods. Squash and carrots were favorites with my kids when they were babies!

16. Tomatoes: Michigan is 9th in the nation for production of fresh market tomatoes. This is good news for me, because I love using fresh tomatoes for pico de gallo, which is an easy bbq party dish.

17. Cranberries: Cranberries are grown in Michigan too! I never knew that! Michigan has 280 acres of cranberries and they are harvested every year from September through November.

3307466046_a91c527ea6_b18. Peaches: Michigan is 6th in the nation for production of fresh market peaches. Look out, Georgia! Michigan is in the ranks.

19. Honey: Michigan honey bees are busy little bees! Check out this resource, to find local honey.

20. Farmer’s Markets: Michigan is 4th in the nation for farmer’s markets, supplying fresh farmer products to Michiganders every week. Port Austin is a huge farmer’s market in the Thumb, where I live. The market is very busy in the summer months!

As you can see, there’s so much to love about Michigan! Whether it is the seasons, a multitude of outdoor activities, or the vast array of agricultural products, I believe Pure Michigan is the finest in the nation! I could go on and on about Michigan and food, but to find out more for yourself, visit MichiganAgriculture.com. While you’re online, check out my family’s favorite breakfast recipe: Farm Barbie’s Waffles of Pancakes. Don’t forget to serve them up with Pure Michigan maple syrup!

Which Michigan grown products are your favorites? Learn more about Michigan agriculture in the video below.

FB Profile picBarbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, is a city girl turned country chick, thanks to falling in love with a farmer. She’s a stay at home mom and professional farmer’s wife. She’s also an amateur photographer, chef, and fashionista and an aspiring children’s book author. Check out her blog.