Skip to main content

Kinzua Bridge, Before and After

Kinzua Bridge was a rail viaduct in northwestern Pennsylvania. Completed in 1882, it was considered to be the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world at the time of its completion. Partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003, this engineering marvel of a viaduct is now the centerpiece of the Kinzua Bridge State Park.

I have some before and after photos of the viaduct to share.The first group of photos was taken by Bill Symons in August 1985, presenting a view of what the lay of the land was once like...










Now for the photos after the destruction called by the tornado, with a foreword by John Krakoff (who took the "after" photos in August 2004):
On July 21, 2003 an intense line of thunderstorms blew out of Ohio and when it moved in to PA, it became a "bow echo" and kept intensifying, until finally wrapping around and forming an "eye" on the radar screen. Meanwhile, the forward line spawned multiple tornadoes, one of which was in the Mt. Jewett/Kinzua Bridge area.
My first reaction to the area as a whole was bewilderment. As you approached the bridge and gorge, the tornado's path was still evident. You could see the twister's path on the north side of US 6 in Mount Jewett. Then turning on to the access road to the bridge and park itself, several felled trees littered the sides of the road. Then, as you come around to the cul-de-sac, it was unreal. Trees stripped of branches and leaves, not to mention the damage to the bridge itself. It was truly heartbreaking especially since they were in the refurbishing process. Also, the tornado's path cuts a swath from southwest to northeast. A bit of sadness is the schedule of train rides was still up - according to PA legislators, not to happen again.
It's an appreciation of the dangers of which Mother Nature is capable. 










 
  
Flash forward to May 2017, and I saw more changes with the site at the Kinzua Bridge State Park, which allow visitors to view and appreciate the industrial prowess that caused the Kinzua Viaduct to be constructed as well as the destruction caused by the tornado that led to the viaduct's demise. Part of the former viaduct is now the Kinzua Sky Walk, where the remaining 600 feet of towers on the bridge have been converted to a pedestrian walkway that features a glass bottom to see below to the ground (plus a wooden walkway for those who feel uneasy about walking on thick glass panels). There is an observation deck where you see the valley around you and the destruction underneath you. The sky walk was opened in 2011. There is also a visitor's center at the park that allows you to learn about the history of the Kinzua Viaduct and hiking trails that allow you explore around the park and take a closer look at the destruction caused at Kinzua Bridge State Park by the 2003 tornado.




Sources and Links:
Bill Symons
John Krakoff
Pennsylvania DCNR - Kinzua Bridge State Park
Allegheny National Forest Visitor's Bureau - Kinzua Bridge Sky Walk 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

US Route 199

I was planning on driving US Route 199 for the third time this weekend.  However "external factors" have pushed my visit to US Route 199 back for the time being.  While I can't do a driving log for US Route 199 at the moment I can still write about it's history.


This blog will be slightly different from the usual flair for Gribblenation.  Generally I have a stockpile of my own road photos from which to draw from.  In the case of US Route 199 I was far more focused on hiking photos during my first two visits in 2014 and 2016 than the actual highway.  At some point I will add a series of modern driving log photos but for the time being I will draw from numerous other sources to illustrate US Route 199.


Part 1; the History of US Route 199

Present US Route 199 is a 80.05 mile highway which connects US Route 101 in Crescent City of Del Norte, California northeast to Interstate 5 in Grants Pass of Josephine County, Oregon.  US Route 199 is one of the original US Routes and …

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack from the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared the road to Tioga Pass.  That being the case I headed up shortly after the 4th of July holiday during a lull in the tourist season.


The Tioga Pass Road runs from the Big Oak Flat Road at Crane Flat east to US Route 395 ("US 395").  The Tioga Pass Road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is maintained by Caltrans as California State Route 120 ("CA 120") east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The National Park Service maintained portion of the Tioga Pass Road serve as a implied connection between the two segments of CA 120.  The Tioga Pass Road is the highway mountain pass in California reaching Tioga Pass at 9,945 feet above sea level.



Part 1; the history of the Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass first obtained notewort…

Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 108 over Sonora Pass

In the fall of 2016 and late summer of 2020 I took a series of drives over mountain passes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Both traps culminated by way of crossing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains westbound by way of the 9,624 foot Sonora Pass on California State Route 108.  
California State Route 108 ("CA 108") is a 99 mile east/west State Highway which originates at US Route 395 in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  CA 108 crosses the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains by way of the 9,624 foot Sonora Pass and terminates at CA 99 co-signed with CA 132 in downtown Modesto.  CA 108 has a 21 mile unconstructed segment which would extend it to Interstate 5 near Crow's Landing if completed.  
Part 1; the history of Sonora Pass and California State Route 108Much of the early history of Sonora Pass is described by way of two informational plaques at the actual Pass.  The first documented crossing of Sonora Pass was in October of 1841 by way of a course slightly due nor…