tv American History TV CSPAN August 7, 2016 11:34am-11:46am EDT
american artifact, road to the white house rewind, and more, at c-span.org/history. all weekend, american history tv is featuring the maritime capital of the great way -- greatly, underwater railroad built under the river that connects to canada in 1890. hosted by our comcast cable visited, tour staff sites celebrating their history. learn more here on american history tv. >> the bridge, and s little cities,tween the separates two countries, cities, a beautiful location and a beautiful area parent i have been fortunate to watch this grow and mature and become one
of the most important structures in america. >> it uses the bridge initially and still today. a large part of it is recreational travel. --people use this aste people use this as a gateway to parts east. it is 160 miles from toronto to here, 180 two buffalo, new york. and if we had to go south around the great lakes, it would take twice as long. cutting travel time in half. >> as a kid, i would ride my bicycle across, by firecrackers and different stuff like that. later on as an adult go over and do dinner, visit friends over there. the u.s. dollar was really strong back in the day, so easy go there and get gas. but now, things have changed quite a bit. but just an important part of my life. >> this is an important destination crossroads. in the early days we had for trappers through here. lumbering was a big part through
here. at the beginning of the river and floating down, the market further south was here. and with the railroad, that actually increased our agricultural trade because farmers could get produce to market. the development of the area, 1859, the railroad actually built a train depot on this side, wanting to connect to the markets west of you. chicago was big in that day. trains would come to this area, and they would have to stop here, uncouple all of the trains, with them on a car ferry. this area was known as the rapids, so imagine a very fast currents, and this was all freight, heavy carts, crossing the area one by one.
it took a long time to get the trains below across. the market was that important, that they did that. the railroad traffic started increasing incredibly. to the point where they actually built a tunnel underneath the st. clair river. it connected both canada and america in 1891. it is still in operation today, but there is a second tunnel. building an international bridge process started in 1927. this was after detroit had opened its ambassador bridge in 1924. construction of the bridge started in 1937 and was completed in 1938. as you see the bridge behind me, that first year that the bridge was open, 61,000 cars crossed over it. they actually established a regular busing system, so that people can continue to shop in each other's downtown. we were always friends and neighbors.
we always crossed the way, so it is not like the bridge was the first door. it is just another doorway that opens. >> well, i came to the bridge in 1972 as a summer job as a toll collector. 38 years, i was able to comment as a toll clerk, like i said it was a small operation, very quiet border crossing. basically, what happened was as traffic started to grow, and there was the completion of i-59, the last section of lansing and port huron, once that was completed, that pretty much provided us a straight shot from east to the west. you know, a great commercial route for the trucking companies, because they could come across the structure, come
from new york, going to canada, come to canada, then come right to the bluewater bridge and continue on out west, with very little interference with major cities and stuff. >> the need became obvious as they tracked all of the traffic that came across year. 47% of the traffic was passenger. but each year, we could see the increase in truck traffic. about every 10 years, the truck traffic doubled. they knew they had to do something. so, they started to do research on building a second span, but they wanted to have it look very similar. so, they actually presented different design plans, so it was still a beautiful bridge to look at. >> we started building a new bridge in 1997, and once we opened that, we closed the original. 1999, we had two structures. it made it a busy commercial crossing in north america, said to have three lanes of traffic, each direction, allowed us to separate the traffic to give us a much smoother flow.
the best thing about this crossing is that we have two structured. we have more lane capacity than any other cross linking canada and the u.s. but we were able to, like i say, move traffic more efficiently. >> for obvious reasons, september the 11th did a lot of things to put a damper on traffic in this area. >> that day, everything came to a screeching halt. traffic did not move for hours. commercial traffic was backed up for days. they did not know what was going on, so they did not know what kind of threats there would be
to the structure and whatnot. so everything came to a halt. and after that, our life on the bluewater bridge changed. >> wait times increased as security became tighter at the bridge. before in my days, you could get across the bridge with your birth certificate and a quarter. in 2009, it was required that you had a passport or an enhanced driver's license. not as easy to go across now buried traffic does not flow as quickly as it used to back in the day. and by the time the traffic was increasing, you tend to see some longer lines than before. before, you never thought about it. hey, i'm going to go to canada and have lunch. be back in an hour and a half. now, you have to think. i'm going to the united states, it is a process now. now, you have to allow yourself the time for customs to do their job to keep our country safe. >> as with any highway, any thoroughfare, there is always maintenance that needs to be done. right now, they're doing maintenance. it is an eyesore. but it is necessary. the current project has been going on less than a year, doing painting and resurfacing. the bridge has become a symbol of the city. it is on our founder, instantly
recognized as the city of port huron. >> a lot of locals take it for granted, both sides, but it is so amazing to be able to, like i say, wake up in one city and end up in another country in a matter of minutes. there is nothing like this location. beautiful, friendly, very accessible. >> this weekend, we are featuring the history of michigan with our cable partners. learn more about port huron and other stops. you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. >> each week, american history tv's real america -- reel
america provide you felt that bring context to today's public issues. today, "the last bomb," docket has the final few months against -- in the campaign against japan. here is a preview. >> early in 1945, our b-29's began operations against japan. , and 1500 miles back. bases in guam. here, concentrated its massive airpower, and plan the ultimate crushing defeat of japan. down to the last bomb. here was the beginning of the end of the road to tokyo. after six months of reoccupation, there were few signs of whorl along the quiet summer shores of guam.
war along the quiet summer shores of guam. people were unaware that america was happening around them, in miracle that moves mountains of material, equipment, and supply. and across the pacific. changed their dirt words -- current rows into broad highways, acres of black top field. nearby, new communities of american citizens, with various -- the latest laborsaving devices, laundry problems, and no modern inconveniences. 21st bomber command was in business. big business. under the general's direction, the bomber command began punching the enemy with appalling power. pentium, missions and
clean -- increase the bombing rate 100% in june. behind the expanding power was planning. >>/the entire film sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span3's american history tv. next, holocaust survivor julius menn describes his experiences growing up in poland and palestine to the 1930's and 1940's. 10-year-old julius menn and his family were on extended-stay when the german army invaded in september of 1939. he described how his family narrowly escaped by traveling to force and feels, dodging hunger. after a year in lithuania, the family returned to palestine in october 1940. this eve