Kinzua Sky Walk

 In Uncategorized

Experience the Beauty of Fall from the Amazing Kinzua Sky Walk

By Linda Devlin

The Kinzua Sky Walk was chosen as “One of the Top 10 Most Scenic Skywalks in the World” by The Culture Trip, U.K. Towering over the Kinzua Gorge at a height of 225 feet, the skywalk extends 624 feet into the Kinzua Gorge. The skywalk features the original rails of the viaduct and a partial glass floor overlook.

From the skywalk, the 360-degree views of the fall colors–brilliant orange, blazing yellow, and deep ruby red–are spectacular. Prime color is usually the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.

The Park offers three hiking trails, one biking trail, picnic areas, a food truck, and the Kinzua Visitors Center which portrays the history of the skywalk. Located at 296 Viaduct Road in the Kinzua Bridge State Park, Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania, the Kinzua Sky Walk is open to the public year-round. Admission to the park and the Kinzua Sky Walk is free.

In 1882, General Thomas Kane, a Philadelphia lawyer, decorated Civil War Veteran, and president of the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad and Coal Company, had rich coal deposits south of the Kinzua Gorge.

But since his customers were to the north, Kane needed to cross the valley. He needed a bridge.

Paris-born Ocatave Chanute, chief engineer for the Erie-Railroad, rose to the challenge. The man who would later help the Wright brothers fly had a bold solution–a bridge unlike any the world had ever seen. Chanute contracted the Pennsylvania firm of Clarke, Reeves & Company to design and fabricate a bridge. Adolphus Bonzano designed a wrought iron bridge using his “Phoenix Column,” an engineering breakthrough that enabled tall structures to resist vibration and buckling.

Once the sandstone foundations were in place, 125 men working 10-hour days completed construction in just 94 days. When completed in 1882, the Kinzua Viaduct soared 301 feet high and 2,053 feet across the gorge; it was the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world.

 

Standing 301 feet tall (24 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge), the Viaduct quickly became a tourist destination. Walking out on the bridge was the next best thing to flying.

 

But by 1900, the locomotives and railroad cars hauling coal and timber across the viaduct became larger and heavier. A stronger steel bridge was required. Using 6.7 million pounds of steel, workers erected a new bridge to replace the original. Bridge designer C.R. Grimm predicted his creation would last 100 years.

And he was right. Grimm’s design used roller expansion bearings where the tower legs were anchored to the masonry foundation piers. When the bridge was rebuilt in 1900, these bolts were not replaced.

In July 2003, engineers and skilled bridge workers were hard at work on a $12 million repair project to reinforce the aging structure. The workers decided to call it a day when the sky went black, and the winds rushed in. A tornado, with winds attacking from three directions, headed straight for the viaduct. Hundreds of trees were ripped from their roots and 11 of the bridge’s 20 towers were lifted, twisted, and thrown onto the valley floor. Six towers remained standing on the south end; only three towers remained upright on the north end.

The remaining six towers of the original Kinzua Viaduct were stabilized and reinvented as the Kinzua Sky Walk. Opened to the public in September 2011, the Kinzua Sky Walk pays tribute to the past while emerging once again as an amazing engineering marvel.

Plan a getaway now! Autumn in the Allegheny National Forest Region of Pennsylvania is a favorite time to visit so reserve your lodging early. For assistance on other things to see and do, and where to stay, call 800-473-9370 or click on www.visitANF.com.

 

Experience the Beauty of Fall from the Amazing Kinzua Sky Walk

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.