The One Time Motor Vehicles Were Permitted On Mackinac Island

Out of more than 4 million miles of public roadway in the United States, there’s an 8-mile stretch on Mackinac Island that stands apart. M-185 is the only state highway in the country where motor vehicles are not allowed — with the exception of emergency vehicles. Instead, the traffic on the road that circles the outer rim of Mackinac Island consists of pedestrians, bicyclists and horse-drawn carriages. You might say that M-185 is literally almost one in a million. Then again, Mackinac Island is one of a kind. It could have turned out much differently had Mackinac Island not taken steps to ban “horseless carriages” more than 120 years ago. As automobiles became commonplace in the 20th century, the lack of motor vehicles on Mackinac Island has given the place a special character that makes it truly feel like a vacation escape. There was, however, one time when motor vehicles were briefly allowed on the island. In 1975, the film Somewhere In Time, starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, was filmed on the island. The romantic fantasy is about a Chicago playwright obsessed with the vintage portrait of an actress hanging in the Grand Hotel. Through hypnosis, he travels back in time to meet her. For the filming, the island council of Mackinac Island had to give special permission to bring motor vehicles onto the island, but were limited to designated filming areas. More than half of the film was shot at the Grand Hotel, the world’s largest summer hotel. All the actors had bicycles for their own personal use on the island, with license plates that read “Somewhere In Time.” Lighting equipment, props, set dressings and costumes were transported to the island in large semi-trailers that were placed on barges to transport to the island. Once on the island, the trucks were not allowed to go faster than a person could walk, so a man would walk in front of them whenever they moved to various locations. Most transport was done before dawn and after midnight so as not to interfere with bicycle and carriage traffic.