9 New River Gorge Bridge Facts you Might Not Know
The New River Gorge Bridge is the most well-known landmark in the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve and perhaps the most well-known landmark in all of West Virginia. This modern engineering marvel helped to change the lives of locals and travelers alike and has become a symbol of pride among West Virginians. We’ve put together some of our favorite New River Gorge Bridge facts so that you can learn more about our favorite bridge.
1. The Bridge Solved Travel Woes
When the New River Gorge Bridge opened in 1977, it changed the travel time for those driving from the south side of The Gorge to the North (or vice versa) substantially. The drive, which used to take 40 minutes down and up a narrow, winding mountain road, now takes less than a minute. This helped commuters get to work more efficiently and allowed families who lived on opposite sides of The Gorge the opportunity to visit their loved ones without such a long drive. For those who want to experience the old road, you can still drive it, but it is now a one-way road.
2. COR-TEN Steel Was Used in Construction
This New River Gorge Bridge fact is one that makes the bridge what it is. COR-TEN steel, or weathering steel, was used in the construction of the New River Gorge Bridge. This type of steel, after years of exposure to the elements, develops a rust-colored patina. Weathering steel is a popular choice for outdoor sculptures as well as buildings. Due to this, the New River Gorge Bridge never needs to be painted.
3. The New River Gorge Bridge is the Western Hemisphere’s Longest Single-Span Arch Bridge.
The New River Gorge Bridge held the title of the longest single-span arch bridge for 26 years but is now the fifth longest in the world, still an impressive feat! The bridge is a whopping 3,030 feet long.
4. The Bridge is so special that there is a whole day dedicated to celebrating it every year.
It’s called “Bridge Day,” and it’s the annual celebration of all things “New River Gorge Bridge.” The primary celebration takes place on the bridge, where BASE jumpers from around the world visit to parachute off the bridge. Bridge Day attendees can visit the bridge or go rafting on the river below. On the north and south sides of the bridge, you’ll find vendors where you get great local food and buy local and regional souvenirs.
5. The New River Gorge Bridge is featured on the West Virginia state quarter.
In 2005, the West Virginia state quarter was released with the New River Gorge Bridge embossed upon it. There has also been a United States Postal Service stamp featuring the iconic New River Gorge Bridge.
6. The height of the New River Gorge Bridge is especially impressive!
The Bridge towers 876 feet from the river below. The New River below is unique for its flow, which flows south to north. Although there are many rivers the world over that flow south to north (the Nile River being the most famous of these), the majority flow north to south.
7. You can walk underneath The Bridge on a New River Gorge Bridge Walk tour.
On this adventure, you’ll walk on a two-foot-wide catwalk that is located below the road surface of The Bridge. This up-close look at the engineering marvel allows you to learn more facts about the New River Gorge Bridge from your Bridge Walk guide. You may even see nesting peregrine falcons, which were reintroduced to the area and have thrived on the steel structure. Peregrine falcons are known for their ability to adapt to urban landscapes and often choose tall buildings as nesting sites. The New River Gorge Bridge provides the bird with a high perch for hunting. They are the fast member of the animal kingdom, reaching over 200 miles per hour when diving to hunt.
8. Despite its name, the New River, which flows underneath the New River Gorge Bridge, is one of the oldest rivers in the world.
The New River attracts people from all over the country to its waters for whitewater rafting. The sandstone rock that surrounds the New River Gorge is also a destination for rock climbing, while the cliffs above these climbs are popular among hikers.
9. A viewing deck for The New River Gorge Bridge is accessible at the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center, located in the national park.
Located right off a US 19 and with both a handicap ramp and stairs, these viewing decks are the best way to stop and see the beauty of the New River Gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge if you’re running short on time.
The New River Gorge Bridge blends with the scenery and adds to the beauty of the New River Gorge, only enhancing the incredible landscape. This year, catch amazing views of the New River Gorge Bridge and the New River Gorge from Adventures on the Gorge. Here, you can raft on the New River, hike to incredible vantage points where you can see panoramic views of the gorge and bridge, swim in our Gorgeside pool, zipline on a cable that is LONGER than the New River Gorge Bridge, and relax and enjoy the incredible scenery of the newest national park in the U.S. See you there!