Royal Gorge Bridge is America’s highest suspension bridge and a legendary feat of engineering . Built in 1929 for only $350,000, the cost today would easily exceed that amount . For those who venture across it, whether walking or driving, the experience is priceless.
The Royal Gorge Bridge is also an important tourist attraction destination near Cannon City, Colorado . The bridge deck hangs 955 feet (291 m) above the Arkansas River and held the record of highest bridge in the world from 1929 until 2003, when it was surpassed by a bridge in China. It is a suspension bridge with a main span of 938 feet (286 m). The bridge is 1,260 feet (384 m) long and 18 feet (5.5 m) wide, with a wooden walkway with 1292 planks. The bridge is suspended from towers that are 150 feet (46 m) high.
Construction and history
The bridge was constructed in just six months, between June 5, 1929, and late November 1929. The bridge was not constructed for transportation purposes , instead, it was built with the intent that it serve as a tourist attraction, and has continued to be one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Colorado since its construction. The road is designated as Fremont County Road 3A. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad runs under the bridge along the base of Royal Gorge.
Measuring from deck to the river below, the Royal Gorge Bridge held the record of highest bridge in the world from 1929 to 2003, when it was surpassed by the Beipanjiang River 2003 Bridge. It is still the highest bridge in North America.
The bridge was closed to vehicle traffic from 1982-83 for significant renovations. During this time new cable anchors were installed. The original rusting cable ends were replaced by new multi-strand cables and then each of the 2,100 strands of existing suspension cable were spliced together with the new anchor cables. The bridge also got new floor timbers, wind cabling, and improvements to the bridge towers. The cost of the renovations were $2.8 million or about 140% of the original purchase price, accounting for inflation.
The height of the Royal Gorge Bridge makes it an attractive spot for suicide by jumping. However, park and security personnel constantly patrol the bridge in order to prevent such suicides.
Main Attractions at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- Aerial tram, built 1968
- Incline railway, built 1931
- Antique replica carousel
- Horseback and burro rides
- Silver Rock Railway
- Mule Team Wagon Rides
- Royal Rush Skycoaster, built 2003
- Cliff Walk (scenic overhang)
- Point Sublime (scenic pavilion)
- Petting Zoo
- Visitor center and shopping
- Various dining facilities