The pedestrian walkway, with an octagon-shaped overlook featuring a partial glass floor, was constructed on six towers of the historic Kinzua Viaduct, located at the Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County. Local and state officials as well as many visitors are expected to attend the grand opening for the Kinzua Sky Walk, which will be held at the state park at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. The Kinzua Bridge State Park is located near Mount Jewett, Pa. There is no fee to visit the park and the public is invited to attend.
The Kinzua Viaduct, first constructed in 1882, once soared 301 feet high and spanned 2,053 feet across and was touted as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It stood 24 feet taller and was completed a year before the Brooklyn Bridge. The viaduct was partially destroyed by a tornado on July 21, 2003, when 11 of the 20 towers were ripped from their bases and tossed to the gorge floor below.
Up to that point, walking or riding across the bridge was the next best thing to flying. Since the time it was built, the Kinzua Viaduct has been a magnet for visitors, who will once again be attracted to the historic landmark.
“We are very excited to see the Kinzua Sky Walk come to fruition,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, stationed in Bradford. “And we are not the only ones. my office receives calls and e-mails daily from people waiting in anticipation for the Kinzua Sky Walk to open.”
However, this is not the first time the Viaduct was reinvented.
In 1900, the first bridge, which was made of iron, was taken down tower by tower and replaced with steel ones that were more able to handle the stronger locomotives that were carrying heavier loads.
Freight traffic on the viaduct ceased in 1959. State officials seized the opportunity to turn the Viaduct into the centerpiece of the Kinzua Bridge State Park, which opened in 1963. Excursion trains started carrying people across the viaduct. Even though the trains eventually stopped, the people continued to come and experience the grandeur of the past.
The park is also the site of picnic tables, hiking trails and interpretive programs. The Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway, a designated shared use hike/bike corridor, leads visitors to the park entrance from scenic Route 6 which transverses east to west across northern Pennsylvania.
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