Known best for the annual 'Bridge Day,' held every October to celebrate this engineering feat's birthday, the New River Gorge Bridge is one of West Virginia's best-known road features. The bridge completed in 1977 also has served as an economic stimulus for the New River Area, as various adventure and outdoor oriented business have flourished because of the improved accessibility to the region's true natural wonder, the New River. Built as part of Appalachian Regional Corridor 'L,' the New River Bridge spans 3,030 feet in length, is the second highest bridge in the US, at 876 ft., and the arch length of 1700 ft. makes it the longest steel single arch span in the world. (Rich Koors). Corridor 'L' is simply US 19 from the West Virginia Turnpike Exit 48 to Interstate 79 (Exit 57). It serves as a shortcut for many travelers from Western Pennsylvania and New York to the South and vice versa. Personally, I cross this bridge and travel this route eight to ten times a year between North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
A view of the arch structure from the New River National River Welcome Center
The nearly 25 year old bridge replaced a turn of the century structure that sits less than 20 feet over the river. It also eliminated a 45 minute down the ridge, cross river, and back up the ridge venture that motorists wishing to cross the New River at this location had to take. US 19 moved from an alignment to the bridge's south, over modern day WV 41, onto Corridor L and the new bridge which is part of the Pennsylvania to Florida highway's current alignment. Also, US 21 was decommissioned in West Virginia the same year the new structure was finished.
"Bridge Day" is a celebration of the bridge and also of the recreational opportunities the New River has to offer. The event, first held in 1980, features bridge jumping, rappelling, a carnival atmosphere, and more. The festival is West Virginia's largest one-day event. For More Information visit the New River Convention and Visitor's Bureau's Bridge Day Site. The festival is held the third Saturday of every October. Barb and John Bee were kind enough to share scans of a certificate they received for participating in the Bridge Day festivities in 1989.
The back of the certificate gives details on the day's events, facts about the bridge, and history of the area.
Page Created: January 22, 2002
Last Updated: July 28, 2002
(C) 2002 Adam Prince