Kinzua Viaduct, also known as the Kinzua Bridge (pronounced "kin-zoo") is the fourth highest railroad bridge in the nation. It is 2100 feet long and 301 feet high. It was built in 1882 by the Phoenix Bridge Works Company of Phoenixville, PA. The original bridge was built of iron and was the longest and tallest railroad bridge in the world. The bridge was rebuilt to the same dimensions in 1900 out of steel to handle heavier trains. It was completely rebuilt in 105 days.
The Kinzua Viaduct is located in McKean County, PA about 120 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. At the completion of its construction it was promoted as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The bridge was used by several railroads including the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
In 1959 the bridge was sold for scrap by the Erie Railroad. When the scrap dealer saw the bridge he reconsidered junking it and sold it to the state. The bridge has been a cult landmark and tourist attraction for years. In 1963 a bill was signed creating Kinzua Bridge State Park, which officially opened in 1970. In 1977 the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Knox and Kane Railroad bought the tracks from Knox, PA to Mt. Jewett, PA from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1982. In that same year the Kinzua Viaduct was named as a national Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Train rides are available on the Knox and Kane Railroad in June through October. The 97 mile round trip is from Marienville, PA to Kinzua Bridge State Park where the train crosses the bridge. It turns around on the other side offering another view of the Kinzua Valley on the return trip.
In June 2002 the bridge was closed. Years of neglect found the concrete support piers cracked and crumbling and many steel supports had corroded from rust. In August 2002 it was closed to pedestrians as well since inspectors determined that unusually strong winds might be enough to possibly blow it down. It was estimated that it would cost $1 million to secure the bridge from collapsing and $10 million to make it safe for train traffic.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penn D.O.T.) committed $1 million toward repairs and two weeks ago the Pennsylvania State House approved a $10.8 million grant for repairs to the bridge. They are hoping to begin repairs as soon as November 2002, possibly finishing in time for next year's train rides.
Kinzua Bridge (http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/k-bridge.htm)
Kinzua Viaduct (http://www.smethporthistory.org/kinzuaviaduct/)
Mike Crissey. "Kinzua Viaduct Succumbing to Age" Bay Area News Sat, Oct. 12, 2002. Accessed Oct. 24, 2002 (http://www.bayarea.com/mld/bayarea/news/nation/4270938.htm)
Note: This writeup is scheduled to be updated to keep it current.