Sunday, November 5, 2017

Aban/Erie Bridges over Kinzua Creek near Mt. Jewett, PA

(Bridge Hunter, Old Bridge Hunter, no Historic Bridges, Satellite, State Park Web Site, DNCR Flickr Album)
I've seen so many photos of this bridge, I can't believe I have yet to write about it. But I could not find a blog posting for it. So here is.
Photo from HAER PA,42-MOJEW.V,1--13 from pa0576

UncoveringPA (For my reference: 11 PA State Parks for History Lovers (oil, old iron furnace, bridges))

Robert McCloud posted (source)
A birds eye view of Kinzua bridge today.
Frederick Rice Holley Is this the one with the glass deck?Robert McCloud yes

Bill Rogerson posted
The Kinzua Bridge or the Kinzua Viaduct was a railroad trestle that spanned Kinzua Creek in McKean County in the state of Pennsylvania. The bridge was 301 feet (92 m) tall and 2,052 feet (625 m) long. Most of its structure collapsed during a tornado in 2003.
Adam John You can still walk on the remaining part.
Tim Beamer posted
The Kinzua bridge when it was all still there, with an excursion train crossing. Probably back in the 80’s, scanned from my grandparents photos.
The bridge was completed in 1882 by the New York, Lake Erie & Western Coal & Railroad Company to connect the rich coal mines of Elk County with the Pennsy in Bradford. When completed, it was the longest and tallest bridge in the world until it lost its title in 1885. It saved building, and operating, 8 miles of difficult terrain. "The bridge itself only took 94 days to complete, an engineering feat in itself, and was over 300 feet high and 2,500 feet long." But it was built with iron, so it was rebuilt in 1900 with steel to accommodate the growth of locomotives and freight car weights. In 1959 it was sold to a demolition contractor, but the president thought it was worthy of preservation and sold it to the state of Pennsylvania. It was closed in 2002 because serious structural flaws were discovered. While making repairs, on July 21, 2003, an F1 tornado destroyed 11 of the bridge's 20 towers. What remains is still an impressive 600' bridge that stands 225' feet above the valley. In 2011 the state opened it as a skywalk. They decided to leave the destroyed towers as a testament to the power of nature. There is a trail that takes you down into the valley with three levels of observation areas. [UncoveringPA] I read that the towers failed because the bridge was being repaired. If it had been intact, it probably would have survived a F1.

Published prior to 1923 in the United States, full resolution
Published prior to 1923 in the United States, full resolution
Update: Jean Inconneau posted photos with the comment:
The Kinzua Bridge or the Kinzua Viaduct was a railroad trestle that spanned Kinzua Creek in McKean County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The bridge was 301 feet (92 m) tall and 2,052 feet (625 m) long. Most of its structure collapsed during a tornado in 2003.
The bridge was originally built from wrought iron in 1882 and was billed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World", holding the record as the tallest railroad bridge in the world for two years. In 1900, the bridge was dismantled and simultaneously rebuilt out of steel to allow it to accommodate heavier trains. It stayed in commercial service until 1959 and was sold to the Government of Pennsylvania in 1963, becoming the centerpiece of a state park. Restoration of the bridge began in 2002, but before it was finished, a tornado struck the bridge in 2003, causing a large portion of the bridge to collapse. Corroded anchor bolts holding the bridge to its foundations failed, contributing to the collapse.
Before its collapse, the Kinzua Bridge was ranked as the fourth-tallest railway bridge in the United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1982.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinzua_Bridge

The first photo was of a plaque that had the text: "Originally begun in 1881 fo rthe New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad to ship coal, lumber, and oil, it was once the world's highest and longest rail viaduct. Rebuilt in 1900 to carry heavier loads, it was in service until 1959. Kinzua Bridge State Park was created here in 1963. In 2003 an F-1 tornado partially destroyed the viduct. Remaining towers were restored and the skywalk constructed in 2011. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission 2011"

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Francis Otterbein posted
Kinzua Viaduct, McKean County, Mt Jewett, PA
The New York, Lake Erie, and Western Railroad (NYLE&W) built the original bridge to a span of 2,053 feet long, 301.ft. high, and a spread of 103 feet. The work on the stone piers began in September 8, 1881 Erection of the ironwork began on April 10, 1882 and in 94 working days the 40 man crew had completed the highest and longest railroad bridge ever built.
In May of 1900, the Erie Railroad Company decided it was necessary to rebuild out of steel the entire structure to accommodate more weight of the heavier freight trains. Train traffic resumed crossing the Kinzua Valley over the new viaduct on September 25, 1900.
BradfordEra (source)
The photo of the bridge with the train on it was reportedly taken during Grant's trip to Kinzua. It comes from "McKean: The Governor's County" by Rufus Barrett Stone (1926)
Photo provided by McKean County Historical Society

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Francis Otterbein posted
Kinzua Viaduct, McKean County, Mt Jewett, PA
The New York, Lake Erie, and Western Railroad (NYLE&W) had contracted The Phoenixville Bridge Works Company to build the original bridge to a span of 2,053 feet long, 301.ft. high, and a spread of 103 feet. The work on the stone piers began in September 8, 1881 when the cornerstone was placed and took six months to complete. Erection of the ironwork began on April 10, 1882 and in 94 working days the 40 man crew had completed the highest and longest railroad bridge ever built, the Kinzua Bridge. The bridge is located in McKean County, Mt. Jewett, PA.
In May of 1900, after only eighteen years of use, The Erie Railroad Company decided it was necessary to rebuild the entire structure to accommodate more weight of the heavier freight trains. The construction of the new viaduct was directed by C.W. Bucholz the chief engineer of the Erie and was carried out by the Elmira Bridge Company. On May 14, 1900, traffic was stopped from crossing the bridge and the reconstruction began May 24, 1900. Train traffic resumed crossing the Kinzua Valley over the new viaduct on September 25, 1900.
The first diesel train crossed the viaduct in April of 1949. Three of the last five trains that crossed the bridge, to include the very last train in Oct. of 1959, were B&O trains. The Erie Railroad sold the bridge to a salvage company on June 21, 1959 and commercial service ended. The bridge was reopened for one day, October 20, 1959, when a wreck on the nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad forced B&O trains to be rerouted across the bridge. No train traffic crossed the bridge from Oct. 1959 till July 1987. The Kinzua Bridge was made a state park on August 12, 1963 when the bridge was sold by the salvage company to the state of Pennsylvania. The park officially opened in 1970 and the first passenger train to cross the Viaduct since 1959 was Engine #38 a 1923 2-8-0 Baldwin steam locomotive, on August of 1987 from the Kane & Knox Railroad.
In 1986 The Knox, Kane, Kinzua Railroad was formed and they offered excursion rides from Marienville to and across the Kinzua State Park Bridge until July 21, 2003 when a F1 tornado destroyed Eleven of the twenty towers that supported the bridge. The Kinzua Viaduct is believed to have been the fourth highest viaduct on the North American continent.
Following the stabilization of the existing six viaduct towers, the viaduct was re-opened as a pedestrian walkway with an overlook at the end featuring stunning views of the Kinzua Gorge in 2011.
(Photo and information by Jim on Flickr)
P.S. In February 2002, engineers decided the structure needed a full-scale inspection and in June, excursion trains were barred from the bridge. As the inspection continued, engineers found that sections of steel were rusted through. In August, the bridge was closed to all traffic, including pedestrians.
Engineers determined that high winds could create lateral pressure on the bridge, shifting the center of gravity, increasing the weight on one side. Such an event could send the whole bridge crashing to the bottom of Kinzua Creek Valley. Beginning in February, 2003, repair work began to restore the Viaduct.
On Monday, July 21, 2003, at approximately 3:15 p.m., an F1 tornado with wind speeds up to 112 mph struck the side of the bridge. Eleven towers from the center of the bridge were torn from their concrete bases and thrown to the valley floor.


Bob Sweigart posted two photos with the comment: "Kinzua Bridge in upstate Pa tornado took it down."
Bill Stephens That EF0 tornado hit in 2003
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Quentin Mong commented on Bob's posting
And this is way back in time when it was rebulit with stronger towers. {of course, not my photo}
Bill Rogerson posted
Mark Yost Before the twister
Tim Clint posted nine photos with the comment: "The Kinzua Railroad Bridge which was destroyed by a tornado in 2003. The Knox Kane Railroad ran a tourist train over the trestle. It was abandoned for commercial traffic in 1959. Located in Mt. Jewett, PA and when built was the highest and longest railroad bridge in the world."

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Album of the Designs of the Phoenix Bridge Company, 1885. Library of Congress
The Kinzua Bridge is seen here in its original form before the reconstruction.
Francis Otterbein posted
History of the Kinzua Bridge
Gregory D. Pawelski posted three photos with the comment: "Kinzua Railroad Bridge near Mount Jewett, Pa. - Then, Then and Now."
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hagley, May 11 1937
Discovery Channel video


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