Sign made from Mackinac Bridge piece on display at South Pole

Indiana man builds sign, brings it to Antarctica

Brendan Fisher (left) and Troy Leighton (right) pose at the South Pole with a sign Fisher made with steel from the Mackinac Bridge deck grating, listing the distance to the Mackinac Bridge from Antarctica. (Hans Suedhoff)

A man has put Michigan’s stamp on the southernmost point of the world: the South Pole.

Thousands and thousands of miles south of Michigan is 51-year-old Brendan Fisher, an Indiana native who’s currently working as a heavy equipment mechanic in Antarctica for the U.S. Antarctic Program. With him is a sign that he made using a 38-foot piece of the Mackinac Bridge’s original deck grating, which he bought during an auction in 2020.

Several steel deck grating pieces also went up for auction in April this year.

The sign, which states the distance from the Mackinac Bridge to the South Pole -- 9,394 miles -- holds special meaning to Fisher, since the Mackinac Bridge is his father’s favorite bridge, according to the Mackinac Bridge Authority. The love his father, a civil engineer, has for the bridge reportedly inspired Fisher to purchase the piece of original deck grating -- and he has since used it to build gifts for family.

The sign (pictured above) is now on permanent display at the USAP facility, since it would’ve become buried in snow, were it kept outside.

The South Bend, Indiana native has been in Antarctica since October, and he’ll be there until November of 2023. The Mackinac Bridge Authority said Fisher brought with him even more pieces of the bridge, hoping to use it to help “create next year’s official South Pole marker.”

The heavy haul truck driver decided he wanted to do something different, so he applied and was approved for the program in Antarctica, where he now welds and works on vehicles at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. According to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, he is joined by six Michigan residents, including one from Traverse City, one from Gaylord and one from Farmington Hills.

“All the people down here are big travelers, and to hear their stories is really neat,” Fisher told the bridge authority. “Everyone here is very educated and capable.”

Learn more about Fisher’s story on the bridge authority’s website here.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.