It was one of the highest train trestles in the world. Built in 1900, it was an engineering marvel spanning a huge valley with Kinzua Creek below. Since its construction, freight trains and passenger trains rolled across the bridge. When the tracks were decommissioned, the Knox and Kane Railroad ran passenger excursions across the bridge giving passengers one of the most incredible views in America. For train enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts, it was a ride to remember.
On the afternoon of July 21, 2003, everything changed.
The Knox and Kane Railroad had temporarily suspended excursions across the bridge for bridge maintenance. On that day an F-1 tornado touched down in the state park, and it struck the bridge tearing a good chunk of it into twisted steel. From that day on, the bridge was decommissioned for train travel, and it was never repaired. The days of the Kinzua Bridge were over.
Well, those days did not end.
Welcome to Kinzua Bridge State Park in Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania. The section of the bridge that the tornado did not destroy was converted into a skywalk. Now you can get the incredible views of the valley that train passengers had when trains ran across the bridge, and you can even hike down into the valley below. You can view the twisted steel that once held the bridge up. You can go into the museum and see the story of the bridge and how the bridge was built and how it was a great service to the railroad back in the day.
Kinzua Bridge State Park is located north and east of the town of Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and it is open all year round although the park may close due to ice and snow. The skywalk is wheelchair accessible. (The trails below are not accessible.) Admission to the museum and skywalk is free, and there is plenty of parking on site. For directions to the park and for more information on the history of the bridge, go to http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/KinzuaBridgeStatePark/Pages/default.aspx. Be advised that the views from this bridge are incredible.