Situated on 339 acres just east of the Allegheny National Forest, the Kinzua Bridge State Park is surely a unique sight to see. The park was even chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as one of the “25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.” I mean, it’s not incredibly often that you get to wander ruins of this type, nor is it often that you even see many ruins of this type left behind. Walking through this park is like walking through something directly out of the Fallout video game series. I wouldn’t be surprised if this park held some inspiration for Fallout 4.
The original bridge was first built in 1882, and held the record for highest, and longest railway bridge in the world at 301 feet high, and 2,053 feet long. It was listed as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1977. This was followed by the subsequent bridge, built in 1900. The Kinzua bridge lived to see 100 years (103 to be exact) before being ripped apart by a tornado in 2003.
Kinzua Bridge State Park was created in 1963, offering views of a beautiful valley winding through the Allegheny Mountains. It was not until 1970 however that the park would open to the public. In 1987, excursion trains began running on the bridge, taking travelers from Kane through the Allegheny National Forest, always making a stop on the bridge before returning to Kane.
These excursion trains ran all the way up until June, 2002, when the bridge was closed for restoration. Just over a year later, the restoration was put to an immediate stop. During the restoration process, at approximately 3:20 p.m. on July 21, 2003, a tornado touched ground within the park. An F-1 tornado came howling through the valley uprooting trees, and taking out 11 of the 20 structure spans, throwing them wildly to the ground. The tornado was able to tear through the bridge due to badly rusted bolts, which were holding the bases of the towers.
The bridge has been left exactly as it fell, and opened as an attraction to showcase to visitors the incredibly powerful forces of nature. One part still standing has been opened as the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk, allowing visitors to walk out 600 feet onto the remaining support towers, and even look down through a glass panel at the supports below. As an added bonus, the view of the Kinzua Gorge from this platform is a beautiful place to watch sunset or sunrise.