The Annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing

This is a guest post from our friend Alice Rossignol. She’s a big fan of the great outdoors and her love for the Upper Peninsula is blossoming. You can follow her on Twitter.

When I wake up in the morning, I greet the day with a humongous yawn and then I cling desperately to the blankets for just a few more minutes, and then another few minutes, and then a few more (my “snooze” button is very worn).

Why do I do this?

Because I’m a terrible sleeper — always have been, always will be. As soon as the lights go out my mind takes off down about one million different paths of future possibilities, past events, and random non-sequential ideas, leaving my waking body very much awake, and my conscious mind, well, very much conscious.

And lately, my mind has fixated on one thing in particular ever since I learned about it, the Annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing.

An antique trailer in the 2008 crossing is on its way! Photo: From mavb2008 – more pics here.

This year marks the fifth time that hundreds of antique tractors will cross the iconic Mackinac Bridge, making their way into the streets of the Upper Peninsula’s St. Ignace.

And I’m not the only one losing sleep over this — excitement and insomnia seem to be spreading quickly among the ranks.

“Are you getting excited? The ‘chatter’ is getting as loud as a John Deere 730 Diesel waking up in the morning,” writes the event’s sponsor, Owosso Tractor Parts. “The tractors are getting shined and fine tuned. Getting harder to sleep? It won’t be long now before we cross the MIGHTY MACKINAC BRIDGE.”

(For those of you unfamiliar with the sound of John Deere 730 Diesel greeting the day, here’s a sample.

It’s true, it won’t be long. A record setting 936 tractors are currently signed up to make the 18-mile journey this coming Friday, September 14. The antique heavyweights will travel from Mackinaw City, across the five-mile bridge, and through St. Ignace. Chugging along at an average speed of just more than five miles per hour, the trip takes about three and half hours.

This is what the agrimotorous stampede looks like:

In 2007, the owner of Owosso Tractor Parts, Bob Baumgras, came up with idea.

“My main reason was to see antique tractors cross the bridge, not necessarily myself but to watch others have fun crossing the Mighty Mac,” wrote Bob in a Facebook message.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority not only agreed to the event, but asked Bob to organize it.

“They wanted me to run the event since they had no idea where to start,” he wrote. “We made agreements on a few items and off it went.”

And off it went indeed.

During its first year in 2008, 614 tractors accepted the challenge, and the event has never lost momentum. Antique tractor fanatics now travel from all over Michigan, as well as Indiana, Georgia, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Canada for the chance to roll into the Upper Peninsula.

But it does more than bring together tractor enthusiasts from different geographies.

“The event brings together many things of the past that were and still are part of Michigan’s heritage,” wrote Bob. “A past that people want to remember. When times were not necessarily easier but memorable. The spirit of Michigan lives on in these old chunks of iron called tractors.”

And that is something to stay up for — I hope my snooze button is ready.

For more information:

The ride’s Facebook page

You may be able to catch some live images here on September 14.

Ends up this coming weekend is an elite doubleheader! St. Ignace will also host the 17th Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show on September 15 and 16.