Skip to main content

The New River Gorge Bridge

Known best for the annual 'Bridge Day,' held every October to celebrate this engineering feat's birthday, the New River Gorge Bridge is one of West Virginia's best-known road features.  The bridge completed in 1977 has also served as an economic stimulus for the New River Area, as various adventure and outdoor oriented business have flourished because of the improved accessibility to the region's true natural wonder, the New River.  Built as part of Appalachian Regional Corridor 'L,' the New River Bridge spans 3,030 feet in length.  At 876 feet over the New River, it is the third highest bridge in the US, and the arch length of 1700 feet made the bridge at the time it opened the longest steel single arch span in the world.  (The bridge is now the third longest of its kind in the world and the longest within the US.) Corridor 'L' is simply nearly 70 miles of US 19 from the West Virginia Turnpike Exit 48 to Interstate 79 (Exit 57).  It serves as a shortcut for many travelers from Western Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario to the South and vice versa.  Personally, I cross this bridge and travel this route a number of  times a year between North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

The Canyon Rim Visitor Center is the one of the better and most accessible of locations to take photos and learn about the bridge.  It is just off the north shore landing of the structure.  At the visitor center, there are a number of vantage points.  One, a quick walk that leads to a viewing platform from just above highway level (shown above) or through a longer and more strenuous trek - there are a lot of stairs - to a viewing platform that affords views of the bridge (see below) and of the New River Gorge below.  The Canyon Rim Visitor Center features exhibits and video presentations about the geological formation of the river, the area's coal heritage, and of course the bridge itself.  The visitor center is also a great place to stop and have a picnic and in our case let the kids get out and play for a little bit.

The 40 year old bridge replaced a turn of the century structure that sits less than 20 feet over the river.  It also eliminated a 45 minute down the ridge, across the river, and back up the ridge venture that motorists wishing to cross the New River at this location had to take.  Once the bridge opened, US 19 moved from an alignment to the bridge's south, over modern day WV 41, onto Corridor L and the new bridge. 

The Fayette Station Bridge viewed from the lower Canyon Rim overlook.
"Bridge Day" is a celebration of the bridge and also of the recreational opportunities the New River has to offer.  The event, first held in 1980, features bridge jumping, rappelling, a carnival atmosphere, and more.  The festival is West Virginia's largest one-day event.  For More Information visit the New River Convention and Visitors Bureau's Bridge Day Site.  The festival is held the third Saturday of every October.  John and Barb Bee attended Bridge Day in 1989 and received a certificate recognizing their completion of walking across the bridge.

Today, you can do a rather unique bridge walk yourself.  Bridge Walk, LLC offers guided tours along the catwalk underneath the bridge.  The tours are offered daily and cost $69/person.  This unique tour was first offered in 2009 as a partnership between the WV Department of Transportation, National Park Service and Bridge Walk, LLC.  Since then, over 30,000 people have taken part of this tour.

Construction on the bridge began in 1974 and was completed three years later at a cost of $37 million.  The bridge officially opened to traffic on October 22, 1977.  The bridge was featured on the back of the West Virginia state quarter by the US Mint in 2005.

Site Navigation:
Sources & Links:


Popular posts from this blog

Old US 101; the San Juan Grade

While researching maps for California State Route 183 I noticed something interesting on the 1935 County Highway maps for San Benito and Monterey County.  From what it appeared it seems that there used to be a state highway running from US 101 south on San Juan Highway, through San Juan Bautista, south over the San Juan Grade to Salinas.  It turns out what I discovered was an a very old alignment of US 101 which was replaced by 1932.

The information relevant to the history of US 101 over the San Juan Grade is as follows:

-  The San Juan Grade was built in 1915 which presumably replaced Old Stage Road from Salinas to San Juan Bautista.  Presumably this was part of alignment adopted as Legislative Route 2 from San Francisco south to San Diego in 1909.  This history can be seen on 1931 edition of the California Highways and Public Works Journal and on

1931 Highways and Public Works Journal

CAhighways on LRN 2

-  By 1926 the San Juan Grade became part of US 101.  The San Jua…

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierras in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack during the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared Tioga Pass, 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 east to US Route 395.  The Tioga Pass road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is also partially on California State Route 120 east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The 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 highest road mountain pass in California with Tioga Pass which lies at 9,945 feet above sea level.

The Tioga Pass Road is very old with the eastern section up Lee Vining Canyon to the Tioga Mine being built in 1883.  The connecting section of the Tioga Pass Road from Big Oak Flat R…

California State Route 49, The Golden Chain Highway (CA 16 north over Yuba Pass to CA 89)

After completing California State Route 124 I took CA 16 to the eastern terminus to start my first Trans-Sierra route; California State Route 49/Golden Chain Highway over Yuba Pass.

As stated I joined CA 49 from the eastern terminus of CA 16 in Amador County.  CA 49 actually begins in Madera County to the south in Oakhurst at CA 41.  CA 49 is about 295 miles long and travels most of the traditional 1849 Gold Rush Country north from Oakhurst to CA 70.  If you want history and old towns then CA 49 is one of the best routes on the West Coast to see both.

To the north of CA 16 the next major junction is Signed County Route E16 in Plymouth which is on Shenandoah Road.  E16 is a 33.2 mile route which travels northeast to US 50. 

Plymouth dates back to the 1850s and is mostly known for a winery that dates back to 1856.  These photos are from Main Street looking west.

CA 49 generally is very rural and doesn't deviate much from when it was first signed back in 1934.  While CA 49 isn'…