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The Building of The New River Gorge Bridge 

The New River Gorge is home to countless spectacles, one of them being the New River Gorge Bridge. The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions due to its mammoth size, unique structure, and epic location. Located in the New River Gorge National Park, this colossal bridge spans across the New River, one of the most ancient rivers on earth. Not only is it a marvel to look at, but it has also helped tremendously with the economy. Stick around and we’ll dive into the building of the bridge, its impact on locals, and so much more!New River Gorge Bridge with the sunrise

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the New River Gorge Bridge. After years of preparation, planning, and designing blueprints, construction on the New River Gorge Bridge began in 1974 and lasted until October of 1977. The West Virginia Division of Highways appointed the Michael Baker Company to design the bridge before the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel was chosen to construct it. Three years and a whopping 37 million dollars went into designing this masterpiece of a bridge. Made from structural steel, reinforcing steel, superstructure concrete, and substructure concrete, the New River Gorge Bridge is an astounding 88 million pounds. The New River Gorge Bridge has countless unique traits, one of the most prominent being the steel it is constructed from! Made with COR-TEN steel, a unique type of steel that rusts when exposed to the elements, the New River Gorge Bridge does not require annual paint jobs. This alone has saved West Virginia millions of dollars and continues to do so.  

Now let’s talk about the hard-working people who not only helped construct the New River Gorge Bridge but also had a hand in making history! The New River Gorge Bridge is 3,030 feet long with a 1,700 width. This 876-foot tall bridge was no easy feat to work on. First, vegetation as well as other aspects of the New River Gorge terrain needed to be cleared. After a blank canvas was created and concrete was poured, temporary towers were put into place to support the cables being strung up. These cables carried trolleys, which in turn carried those working on the New River Gorge Bridge. Slowly but surely, the bridge was built piece by piece, at the hands of some very hard-working individuals.

Photo from NPS of the NRG Bridge being built

The New River Gorge Bridge officially opened on October 22nd, 1977. While the New River Gorge is a marvel to look at, it’s also admired for its impeccable structural integrity. For 26 years, the New River Gorge Bridge was the longest single-span arch bridge in the world! Today, it proudly holds the title of the longest single-span arch bridge in the United States. Not only is it one of the longest, but it is also one of the highest bridges that actually allows vehicular travel. No wonder it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in West Virginia! The completion of the New River Gorge Bridge changed the lives of locals and travelers alike! Not only did it impact the everyday lives of those crossing the bridge, but it also greatly improved West Virginia’s economy! Before the New River Gorge Bridge was built, locals and those passing through had no other option than to drive over half an hour down curvy and tight roads. The newly built bridge reduced travel time from forty minutes to an astonishing forty seconds!

Since the completion of the New River Gorge Bridge, it has become one of West Virginia’s treasures. Not only did the New River Gorge Bridge make the lives of West Virginians easier, but it also contributed to some of the state’s most popular recreational activities! The two-foot-wide catwalk located below the New River Gorge Bridge allows individuals to experience the New River Gorge from a whole new perspective. You can even book a bridge walk tour with ACE Adventure Resort year-round! For $72, you can experience the New River Gorge National Park from a bird’s-eye view! Bridge Day, arguably West Virginia’s most popular tradition, is the third Saturday of every October. The first Bridge Day was in 1980 and for the past forty years, the third Saturday of every October has been a day dedicated to mountaineer festivities! This annual tradition can bring in up to 100,000 locals, tourists, and everyone in between! Thanks to the Michael Baker Company, the West Virginia Division of Highways, and the countless hard workers who put in hours of labor, the New River Gorge Bridge has become a staple in West Virginia. Two men looking over the New River Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day

BY Larkin Cook

Larkin grew up here at ACE Adventure Resort and on the New River. Her dad, Jerry, is one of the owners of ACE, so adventure is in her blood. When Larkin isn’t studying at Concord University, she is working in the marketing department as a social media specialist. Larkin enjoys hiking, whitewater rafting, and being outdoors. If you can’t find Larkin at ACE or on the River, she’s at home with her cats Misa and Oscar.

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