The Kinzua Bridge is no longer there, but it is worth visiting. Before I started writing this blog, before I had a digital camera and before I kept digital records of my photos, we visited the Kinzua Bridge in Pennsylvania. But a 21 July 2003 tornado destroyed the 121 year-old bridge. Fortunately I kept prints of those old photos.
Built in 1882, it was the highest and longest trestle bridge in the world. It was 300 feet from the ground to the deck and 305 feet to the rails. 125 men took just 94 days to build it using the latest technology of the time. Almost 2100 feet long, it was constructed of iron. In 1900, the iron was replaced with steel using 894,729 rivets and 37 miles of rivet rods. In 2002, it was still the fourth-highest bridge in the world. The bridge handled rail traffic until 1959 when it was sold to the State and became the central attraction of a Pennsylvania State Park. A summer tourist train ran across it from 1987 to 2002. Then the 2003 tornado swept through the valley taking just thirty seconds to bring down 11 of the bridge’s 20 towers.
I-95 is boring and was closed by flooding in South Carolina in 2015 when we wanted to return from New York to Florida. So instead, we drove a portion of U.S. 6 west across the top of Pennsylvania and found ourselves in Bradford for a couple days. One day we drove through the beautiful countryside and revisited the bridge. Coincidentally, when I looked at the 2002 pictures today, I learned our October 2015 visit was exactly thirteen years to the day after our first visit.
Faced with a $45 million dollar bill to reconstruct the bridge, the State opted instead to build a 600-foot skywalk over the portion that remained. At the time of our October 2015 visit, they also were building a new visitors center.
It is an attractive 339-acre park with picnic facilities and hiking trails as well as the bridge. I encourage you to visit it.
But I am very grateful we saw the bridge intact.
Click on photos to enlarge.