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. 









 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Relief Route That Wasn't: The Never Built I-70 Bypass in the Mid-Mon Valley

In June 1963, a small blurb in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read that The Westmoreland Engineering Company was awarded a $24,060 bid to study the proposed construction of Interstate 70 in Westmoreland and Washington Counties.  The study was to see what the construction and right-of-way costs "...to modernize the existing highway to Interstate requirements within eight months." (1)  This small, non-attributed, three paragraph article came less than a decade after the completion of a four lane highway that linked the Mid-Mon Valley to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This would be the start of a 15 year process to upgrade and improve Interstate 70 - a process that ultimately never produced a single foot of new highway.

This is the story, albeit brief, of the I-70 that never came about.

Background:
What is now known as Interstate70 from Washington to New Stanton began as a connecting highway for the region to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Known as the "Express Highway", construct…

A look at Pittsburgh's Saw Mill Run Boulevard

Saw Mill Run Boulevard - Pennsylvania State Route 51 - runs through the narrow Saw Mill Run Valley.  It begins at the intersection of Clairton Road and Provost Road at the City of Pittsburgh Line with Brentwood.  It ends at the West End Circle at the entrance to the West End Bridge.  A four lane highway for its the entire length, Saw Mill Run Boulevard consists of interchanges at the South Portal of the Liberty Tubes and with the Parkway West.  It is an expressway from the Parkway to the West End Circle (West End Bypass).  One of the most well known traffic tie-ups in the Pittsburgh area occurs between Maytide Street and PA 88 (Library Road) which is simply known as 'Maytide and 88.'

History:
Saw Mill Run Boulevard was part of the 1928 Allegheny County 'City Beautiful' bond issue.  The bonds resulted in the creation of Saw Mill Run, Ohio River, Allegheny River and Mosside Boulevards. (1)   After the completion of the Liberty Tunnels in 1924, Downtown Pittsburgh was offic…

The Many Failed Plans of Pittsburgh's Wabash Bridge and Tunnel

The December 27, 2004 opening of the Wabash Tunnel ended over 70 years of proposals and speculation for the use of the over 100 year old facility.  The tunnel, which is now a reversible roadway that is an alternative route for rush hour traffic, saw many failed plans during the 20th Century.  These plans included options for mass transit, converted and new bridges for vehicles, and other forms of transportation.

Brief History:
Constructed in 1902-04, the Wabash Bridge and Tunnel was planned and financed by rail mogul, Jay Gould.  Gould began his "Battle of the Wabash" with the established railroads of the city in 1890.  He would finally emerge victorious, but during that struggle, Gould would see many setbacks that would eventually result in the railroad's bankruptcy in 1908.  On October 19, 1903, when the two ends of the bridge were to be joined together over the Monongahela River, the 109' bridge collapsed; killing ten men.  Construction would resume four days later …