Kinzua Bridge was an enormous iron structure that was erected in 1882. At that time it was the highest railroad bridge in the world. It stood 301 foot high and spanned 2,053 feet with Kinzua Creek in the valley below. The original bridge was constructed of wrought iron and in 1900 this was replaced with solid steel to accommodate heavier trains. Unfortunately they had the right idea of replacing the wrought iron with structural steel but didn't replace the iron anchor bolts. This turned out to be a fatal mistake for the aging bridge.
Up until 2002 this historic icon of the Pa Wilds carried excursion trains across the Kinzua Valley much to the delight of young and old. In 2002 an inspection revealed some damage and structural weakness and the bridge was shut down to train traffic. On a Monday, July 21st 2003, Mother Natured displayed her awesome fury as Kinzua Bridge got hit with an F1 tornado with wind speeds of 71 to 112 miles per hour. The anchor bolts failed and the tornado made easy work of 11 of the 20 towers leaving a mass of twisted steel and devastation.
Years after the tornado wiped out the bridge there was much controversy as to the future of this bridge. Would it be rebuilt or would the park simply be closed down and left to be taken over by nature. It was finally decided to use part of what remained and after making sure it was safe, build an observation deck. Yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the nice day and blue skies and check it out.
We walked out on the bridge and felt completely safe strolling out to the observation deck. At this point our confidence turned to apprehension as we cautiously approached the glass panels making up part of the decking. Our first steps out onto the glass were a bit unnerving but that feeling quickly passed. It was truly an awesome experience and the project very well done. Even though we have seen the twisted steel several times from the far bankside overlook, seeing it up close and personal from the observation deck gives you a whole new perspective. We highly recommend checking this place out for yourself.
Looking down at the twisted steel gives a whole new perspective.
This shot was taken with the lens aiming down through the glass deck. Note the reflection of the clouds along the fringe of the picture.
Taking advantage of a quiet day on the bridge.
Taking time out to catch a few rays.
There will be many weekends where this just won't be possible due to crowds. We decided to take advantage of this opportunity.
This shot was taken from the observation deck and shooting toward the parking area. I liked this shot, hope you do too.
Hope these towers are strong now. Wonder if they replaced the anchor bolts!!!