Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 25; the Royal Gorge Bridge

The morning after visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve I headed out of Alamosa via US Route 160 west and US 285 north to US Route 50.  I followed US Route 50 east along the Arkansas River to Fremont County Road 3A.  Upon pulling onto Fremont County Road 3A I took it 4 miles south to it's terminus at the Royal Gorge Bridge.


This article serves at the 25th entry in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  Part 24 covered former Colorado State Route 150 over Mosca Pass and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 24; CO 150 and Great Sand Dunes & Preserve

The Royal Gorge Bridge is a suspension span which crosses the Arkansas River and namesake Royal Gorge.  The Royal Gorge Bridge is 1,260 feet length and has a clearance of 955 feet above the Arkansas River. The Royal Gorge Bridge was built by George E. Cole Construction Company between June and November 1929 as a purpose built tourist attraction.  The Royal Gorge Bridge opened for visitation on December 8th 1929.  At it's opening the Royal Gorge Bridge had had the highest clearance of any structure in the world and wouldn't be surpassed until 2001. In June of 2013 the Royal Gorge Bridge was damaged by a wild fire but the wooden deck was quickly replaced.  The fire of 2013 damaged the narrow gauge incline railway next to the Royal Gorge Bridge which had opened in 1931.

The Royal Gorge Bridge makes an appearance on the 1931 Clason Highway Map of Colorado just south of US 50/CO 6.


Both sides of the Royal Gorge Bridge contains segments of it's attached Park.  From the eastern cliffs of Royal Gorge the depths below to the Arkansas River are strikingly obvious.





It might not seem like it but the Royal Gorge Bridge is designed to carry the weight of vehicle traffic over the Arkansas River.  The deck width of the Royal Gorge Bridge is 18 feet wide which can handle two-way traffic.  Vehicles are typically only allowed to cross the Royal Gorge Bridge early in the day to set up shop at the western part of the park.  In the photo below the entrance to the incline railway can be seen on the right.


Walking across the Royal Gorge Bridge in my opinion is far more of an experience than driving it.  While on foot the true height of the Royal Gorge Bridge feels much more intimate than it does behind the wheel.  The wooden road deck of the Royal Gorge Bridge shakes easily and the Arkansas River can be seen below the planks.  When vehicles cross the Royal Gorge Bridge the whole structure shakes which can be pretty extreme in the middle of the main 880 foot span.




Looking northwest from the Royal Gorge Bridge the full width of Royal Gorge can be seen.  The Royal Gorge Route Railroad can be seen below the Royal Gorge Bridge on the Arkansas River.   The Royal Gorge Route Railroad was the point of contention of what led to the so called "Royal Gorge Wars" between the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.  Ultimately the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad gained control of the Royal Gorge Route by 1880.  The Royal Gorge Route carried passenger service until 1967, freight traffic ended in 1996 when the Union Pacific Railroad merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The Royal Gorge Route was sold in 1997 and reopened to passengers in 1999.


The Royal Gorge Route is best observed looking southeast from the Royal Gorge Bridge.


Upon leaving the Royal Gorge Bridge I returned to US Route 50.  I stayed on US Route 50 eastbound to CO 115 where I turned north towards Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Highway.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 26; the Pikes Peak Highway

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Deer Isle Bridge in Maine

As graceful a bridge that I ever set my eyes upon, the Deer Isle Bridge (officially known as the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge) surprisingly caught my eye as I was driving around coastal Maine one Saturday afternoon. About 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine , the Deer Isle Bridge connects the Blue Hill Peninsula of Downeast Maine with Little Deer Isle over the Eggemoggin Reach on ME 15 between the towns of Sedgwick and Deer Isle . It should be noted that Little Deer Isle is connected to Deer Isle by way of a boulder lined causeway, and there is a storied regatta that takes place on the Eggemoggin Reach each summer. But the Deer Isle Bridge holds many stories, not just for the vacationers who spend part of their summer on Deer Isle or in nearby Stonington , but for the residents throughout the years and the folks who have had a hand bringing this vital link to life.   The Deer Isle Bridge was designed by David Steinman and built by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville,

Former US Route 99 through Athlone and the last Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor expressway

Athlone was a siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad located in Merced County on the alignment of what was US Route 99 between the cities of Chowchilla and Merced.  The Athlone corridor of US Route 99 was one of the first in San Joaquin Valley to fully upgraded to four lane expressway standards.  The Athlone expressway corridor was inherited by California State Route 99 when US Route 99 was truncated to Ashland, Oregon during June 1965.  The four-lane expressway through Athlone was the last segment of what had been US Route 99 in the Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor to be bypassed by a freeway.  The Athlone expressway corridor was bypassed by the modern California State Route 99 freeway in 2016.  Despite being put on a road diet and narrowed what was the Athlone expressway corridor still displays evidence of being part of US Route 99.   Above the blog cover photo displays the Athlone expressway corridor of US Route 99 south of Merced as depicted in the July 1939 California Highways &

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley