Look Back at Line 5: Check out the archives of the pipeline’s original construction

Look Back at Line 5: Check out the archives of the pipeline’s original construction
February 19, 2020 Sandra Svoboda

Back in 1953, a civil engineering company named Merritt-Chapman & Scott constructed the “Lakehead Pipeline” – what is now known as Enbridge Line 5 – in the Straits of Mackinac.

Several years later, Dunbar and Sullivan Dredging Company acquired MC&S’s Great Lakes business.

A welder is working on a steel pipeline. This pipeline was being prepared for placement across the Straits of Mackinac as part of the Lakehead Pipeline project (The Lakehead Pipeline is now known as Line 5).

A Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation drillboat and dragline excavator performing preparatory work for the Lakehead Pipeline crossing of the Straits of Mackinac, at Pointe La Barbe near St. Ignace, Michigan.

A long section of steel pipeline is pulled out toward Lake Michigan as Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation constructs the Lakehead Pipeline Extension across the Straits of Mackinac.

A cross-sectional drawing of the Straits of Mackinac which shows the Lakehead Pipeline Extension that was constructed by the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation.

Photos courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society

Now, the company’s photographs, architectural plans and other documents are housed at the Detroit Historical Society and available to researchers.

“We expect to have great interest in this collection given the interest and ongoing news coverage about the pipeline,” said Joel Stone, senior curator at the Detroit Historical Society.

Two separate families donated Dunbar and Sullivan material to the Detroit Historical Society, Stone said, including photos, specifications, blueprints and contracts for the pipeline installation project.

That material has been catalogued and is now available for the public and researchers to review.

Photographs are available online for anyone to see HERE.

Additional material can be reviewed by making an appointment with the DHS’s collections staff. Fees may apply. More information for researchers is HERE.

The Detroit Historical Society operates the Detroit Historical Museum in the Midtown neighborhood and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. Great Lakes Now is housed in Detroit Public TV’s Detroit Bureau in the Midtown location.

To view the Detroit Historical Society’s more than 44,000 images, films and videos steeped in Detroit history – all searchable – visit THIS database.

Featured Image: Group of visitors and workmen are waving as the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation Lakehead Pipeline has been brought ashore after crossing the Straits of Mackinac, Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society


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