Conquering the New River Gorge Bridge – Bridge WalkDecember 21, 2011
The New River Gorge Bridge spans a canyon that is both deep and wide and steeped in history. For over 30 years, people have been crossing the Gorge in less than a minute, thanks to the Bridge.
But what you might not know is that a metal walkway is built into the bridge’s internal construction, originally intended only to allow engineers and inspectors to examine all the pieces and parts of this enormous erector set. Now you can step onto this catwalk thanks to Bridge Walk, one of the newest adventures in the Gorge.
From the catwalk, you’ll get some unique and spectacular views of the Bridge and the Gorge below it. Bridge Walk gives folks the opportunity to take a stroll across the New River Gorge Bridge, just 15 feet under its deck. To take in both the form and the function of a design (one time the longest single span steel arch bridge) is a pretty amazing experience.
This monstrosity of a bridge was completed in 1977, after 4 years of building and a $37 million price tag. It was designed by the Michael Baker Company and built by American Bridge Division of US Steel.
It was built from COR-TEN steel, which is designed to form a rust layer for protection. This technique eliminates the need to paint this behemoth. It also helps the Bridge blend in with its beautiful surroundings. The Bridge is 3,030 feet long and stands 876 feet above the New River below.
The Bridge Walk is an endeavor undertaken by a few local entrepreneurs. It was envisioned as a possibility years ago by the National Park Service in their original park plan.
The concept is simple and safe. Get harnessed up and attached to cables that run the entire length of the Bridge and then take a leisurely stroll under the Bridge’s deck from one side to the other. The equipment is top of the line and the tour includes guides that ensure guest safety and share local knowledge, history and interesting Bridge facts and figures.
No matter how many different angles and views you have seen the Bridge from before, this one is definitely the most interesting and unusual. Remember to bring your camera as pictures are allowed and encouraged.
The tour is available to most people from about the age of 9 to 90 and is even set up to accommodate folks with disabilities, as they have a wheelchair that will fit on the walkway.
Have you experienced Bridge Walk?