'SkyBridge Michigan' made of lumber from local, family-owned business
The 52-foot-tall timber towers of “Skybridge Michigan” support the longest structure of its kind.
And the hundreds of visitors that came Up North this weekend for its grand opening got to see explosions of autumn red, orange and yellow in the treetops.
Spanning the valley between McLouth and Disciples ridges, the 1,200-foot bridge took three years to design and build.
Engineers came from all over the country to help build Boyne Mountain Resort’s newest attraction, but most of the materials came from right across the street.
“This is huge. It’s a huge attraction,” said Boyne Valley Township Clerk Lynn Sparks. "It will bring more people in. And because it used the local lumber industry it meant a lot to the township.”
In fact, you can see the sawmill from on top of the bridge, along with a stunning view of the Boyne Valley.
Matelski Lumber has been owned by the Matelski family for four generations, and they've formed a unique partnership with Boyne Mountain Resort.
Some of the first buildings on the resort were made from Matelski Lumber, according to Boyne Mountain Resort president and general manager Ed Grice.
Randy Matelski is vice president of the more than 70-year-old business. He said one of his first jobs was working weekends at the resort in the 1970s.
“I’m thrilled that we got to work together and it actually went smooth,” he said
Experiential Resources designed the bridge. It was modeled off of another timber-towered bridge at a Boyne Mountain sister property in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Long suspension bridges, such as the Mackinac Bridge, are typically made completely out of strong steel. But Mandy Stewart, CEO and co-founder of Experiential Resources says the wooden towers are just as safe for carrying skiers and hikers.
The bridge can hold around 3,000 people at once.
Stewart said the timber towers — which each weigh about 40,000 pounds — also pay homage to Northern Michigan’s logging history.
The whole structure is grounded in about 1 million pounds of concrete.
Toward the middle of the bridge the floor becomes see-through glass about an inch-and-a-half thick. Bridge crossers can look below to where skiers will be speeding down the mountain in the winter time.
Josh Crocker occasionally brings his family to ski. But with the bridge, he says he plans to bring his young daughter up to Boyne Mountain more often.
“With things like this, having kids now and looking for stuff to do… we’ll probably be here more frequently and giving her more activities and options,” he said. “Things like this are definitely going to attract people.”
“SkyBridge Michigan” will be open daily, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. until Oct. 31.
Starting Nov. 4, it will only be open Fridays through Sundays, and then will be back open daily beginning Dec. 9.