The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Kinzua Bridge State Park

Saturday was the first time that our friends, Cathy and “Ducky”, had visited Kinzua Bridge State Park.  When I discovered that my friends had not seen Kinzua Bridge prior to the tornado strike, I told them that I would write a blog post containing details and photographs of previous visits that Bob and I have made to the park.

Map

Kinzua Bridge State Park (“B” marks the spot in the map shown above)  is located in Pennsylvania four miles north of U.S. Route 6 at Mt. Jewett on State Route 3011.  The park contains 329 acres in McKean County and features the remnants of a railroad bridge (viaduct) that had been designated as a National Engineering Landmark. When Kinzua Bridge was built in 1881, it was the world’s highest and longest railroad bridge at 301 feet tall and 2,053 feet long.

I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park for the first time, with Bob, in May 1998. We visited the park once again in October 1998.

KBSP 1998-1I am standing on Kinzua Bridge.
In May 1998 we walked across Kinzua Bridge.

KBSP 1998-2Autumn colors, October 1998

In September 2001 Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park with our exchange student from Germany.

KBSP 2001Bob and our German exchange student on Kinzua Bridge in September 2001

In August 2002 an engineering inspection of the viaduct revealed potential problems with the structural integrity of the supporting piers, so the viaduct was closed to all access. Therefore, when Bob and I visited the park in October 2002 with Leo, our exchange student from Brazil, we were not allowed to walk across the viaduct or hike below it. We could, though, still view the bridge from the observation deck adjacent to the bridge.

KBSP 2002Bob and I in October 2002
Kinzua Bridge in background

On July 21, 2003 an F1 tornado caused the center section of the Kinzua Bridge to collapse. Kinzua Bridge State Park was closed so that cleanup and damage assessment could take place. The park was reopened on August 1, 2003. Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park on June 20, 2004 — the first time that I had been to the park since the collapse of the bridge almost 1 year ago. I was in awe of the damage done by the tornado and the amount of cleanup that still needed to be done.

P6200001No trees obstruct view of bridge from parking lot.

P6200004Tornado destruction

We returned to the park in July 2005 with Bob’s sister and her husband. The damage caused by the tornado was still very much in evidence.

P70300311Cynthia and Larry at Kinzua Bridge State Park
(July 2005)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
July 2003 tornado damage still evident in 2005

It was a few years later when we next visited Kinzua Bridge State Park.  In June 2011 we returned to the park once again, accompanied by our Canadian friends Tom and Heather.

E6252212Tom and Heather at Kinzua Bridge State Park
In the background is what is left of Kinzua Bridge.

It had been 8 years since Kinzua Bridge had been blown down by a tornado. Remnants of the bridge still lied on the forest floor.  We were not able to walk on the bridge, as restoration was taking place. We didn’t realize it at the time; however, the restoration culminated in the creation of the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.  A grand opening of the Skywalk was held on September 15, 2011.

Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park in October 2011 for the first time after the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk was completed.  The Skywalk, which is built on six original towers, leads to a 225-foot high observation deck that gives a lofty view of the Kinzua Gorge.  A partial glass floor in the deck allows one to look into the steel structure of the bridge, a view that takes one’s breath away. Remnants of the bridge blown over by the tornado remain at the bottom of the gorge for visitors to look at from the deck railings.

EA235926 4x6Bob on the Skywalk, October 2011

In March 2012 I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park with Raphael, a Brazilian boy who lived with us as an exchange student for 10 months during the 2004-2005 school year.

E3210454 4x6Raphael on Observation Deck

E3210459 4x6Raphael on Kinzua Bridge
The Skywalk is behind him.

E3210462 4x6
Raphael on the Skywalk, March 2012

Our next visit to Kinzua Bridge State Park was on Saturday with Cathy and “Ducky”, which I wrote about in my previous blog post.  I am certain it will not be our last visit to the park!

5 Responses to “Kinzua Bridge State Park”

  1. Betsy Adams

    Hi Linda, I love seeing the Kinzua Bridge State Park all through the years… It’s neat that you pulled out all of the pictures to compare/contrast the differences. Thanks so much!!!! I’d love to visit there sometime!
    Hugs,
    Betsy

    Reply

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