Kinzua Bridge State Park
The 329-acre Kinzua Bridge State Park offers visitors a chance to walk the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk. Located in McKean County, this park is the home of the newly reinvented Kinzua Viaduct. The Viaduct, once known as the longest and tallest railroad structure at 2,053 feet long and 301 feet high, was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003. In 2011, the engineering masterpiece was reinvented as a new pedestrian walkway where visitors can stroll 600 feet out on the remaining support towers, peer miles out into the Kinzua Gorge as well as peer down into the partial glass platform at the end of the walkway. Picnicking and trail opportunities are available. The Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway is a designated shared use hike/bike corridor.
Scenic Views: The bridge overlook gives great views of the viaduct and the Kinzua Creek Valley. The accessible overlook is great for viewing fall foliage and the Kinzua Creek Valley. Peak viewing times are the first two weeks of October.
Picnicking: The picnic area has shaded picnic tables, water and a modern restroom. A picnic pavilion with electricity may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. If unreserved it is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Make a reservation.
Hunting: About 100 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, bear and turkey. Hunting is not permitted from the bridge. Adjacent State Game Land 62 is open to hunting and general recreation.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
This photo gallery contains images from after a tornado knocked down the Kinzua Viaduct. The images are .jpg versions. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Placement of the stone bases began in 1881 while the ironwork and entire bridge were completed in 1882. At the time, the Kinzua Viaduct was the highest railroad viaduct in the world. It was constructed as an alternative to laying an additional eight miles of track over rough terrain along the line leading to McKean County’s coal, timber and oil lands.
Built of iron, the original viaduct was 301 feet high, 2,053 feet long, and weighed 3,105,000 pounds.
Around 1900 it became necessary to rebuild the entire structure with steel to accommodate heavier trains. That May, about 100 to 150 men working ten-hour days completed the job in 105 days. The new steel viaduct had the same measurements, but now weighed 6,706,000 pounds.
Freight traffic ended in 1959. In 1963, Governor William Scranton signed a law that created Kinzua Bridge State Park. The park officially opened in 1970. In 1977, Kinzua Viaduct received national recognition when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.
Beginning in 1987, excursion trains traveled from Kane, PA through Allegheny National Forest, stopping on Kinzua Viaduct before returning to its point of origin.
Although the bridge received periodic inspections, it was not until a February 2002 DCNR inspection that engineers decided that the structure needed a full-scale inspection. In June, DCNR barred excursion trains 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. The wind hitting the bridge could shift the center of gravity, increasing the weight on one side. Such an event could send the whole bridge crashing to the bottom of Kinuza Gorge.
Beginning in February, 2003, W. M. Brode Co. of Newcomerstown, Ohio, a national leader in railroad bridge construction and repair, began working to restore Kinzua Viaduct.
On Monday, July 21, 2003, at approximately 3:15 p.m., an F1 tornado (wind speed 73 – 112 mph) struck the side of Kinzua Viaduct. Eleven towers from the center of the bridge were torn from their concrete bases and thrown to the valley floor. Fortunately no one was seriously injured.
Today, park visitors can once again walk a portion of the Kinzua Bridge. Built on six original towers (now restored and repaired), a pedestrian walkway (skywalk) leads to a 225-foot high observation deck that gives a towering view of the Kinzua Gorge. A partial glass floor in the deck reveals a breathtaking glimpse into the steel structure of the bridge. The eleven twisted and scattered bridge towers blown over by the tornado remain at the bottom of the gorge for visitors to view from the deck railings. A grand opening was held on September 15, 2011.
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Kinzua Bridge State Park
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Maps and Downloadables
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Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Kinzua Bridge State Park is four miles north of US 6 at Mt. Jewett on SR 3011.
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Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Kinzua Bridge State Park