Royal Gorge Bridge Colorado
Admire This Amazing Bridge Over The Arkansas River Colorado
The Royal Gorge Bridge Colorado was for seventy years the highest suspension bridge in the world.
But it is a bridge that goes nowhere!
Completed in 1929 for what now seems like the piddling amount of $350,000 - that`s nearly $20 million in todays money - it was built for one purpose only. That was to give visitors a great view of the gorge and the Arkansas River Colorado that swirls and tumbles between the cliffs 955 feet below.
And give a great view it certainly does!
The 1,258 feet long bridge is suspended from two massive cables that are made up of 2,100 separate strands of wire. These cables are stretched over two towers of unequal height. One is 46 metres (150 feet) high and the other is 34 metres (110 feet) high.
Building the towers this way mean that the cables suspending the bridge do not meet the roadway in its centre but more towards one end.
Therefore, when the bridge is viewed from one side, it has a slightly unbalanced look. However, when you see the Royal Gorge Bridge for the first time your only impression is how awesome it looks!
There are no vertical struts to make the construction more rigid.
When vehicles pass over the bridge the movement and the swaying are very noticeable. This makes crossing the bridge a little more exciting than normal!
The idea for the bridge came from a Texan called Lon P. Piper. He was so taken with the Royal Gorge that he dreamt of creating a bridge purely for people to enjoy the stunning sight of the towering cliffs and the river below.
The nearby Cañon City, who owned the land, commissioned a bridge engineer called George Elmer Cole to oversee the project and this he did very successfully.
Although the bridge was designed to carry vehicles most of the traffic is pedestrian. The road surface is not made of concrete or asphalt but thick wooden Oregon Fir planks laid down crosswise. It needs over one thousand of them to do the job.
Pedestrians, as they walk the planks, (sorry about that!) can see between them all the way down to the Arkansas River Colorado and the tracks of The Royal Gorge Railroad far below!
This fantastic railroad provides the most amazing Colorado train rides.
Because of the gaps between the planks, ladies are recommended not to wear heels as they could easily get caught.
In 1983 a period of reconstruction took place. Two "wind cables" were added to the underside of the bridge. This was to reduce the swaying motion in high winds and when vehicles cross.
Also the points, where the cables are anchored to the ground either side of the bridge, were rebuilt. This means that the lifespan of the bridge is good for many more years to come.
Every year over half a million visitors visit the Royal Gorge area and Cañon City Colorado. Nearly all of them have come to see the bridge.
Canon City still own the site and a charge is made for entering the area and crossing the bridge.
If you are able, go online to the Gorge Bridge website if you are planning a trip. Discounts are available on tickets.
Cañon City Colorado obviously have expenses in maintaining the bridge, hence the charge. But to be fair they have added to the attractions over the years in an effort to give value for money.
So the fee you pay also gives admission to other things, such as the Incline Railway that climbs up the side of the gorge.
Also be aware if you are making a visit during the off-peak winter months, some of the attractions may be closed but you still pay the same fee. So check on what`s available when you go.
One extra attraction takes place on the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado on the last weekend in September, and it draws huge crowds. This is an event called "The Go Fast Games."
There is Bungee jumping and BASE jumping from the bridge.
Similar to the New River Gorge Bridge Day in West Virginia, the ban on BASE jumping is relaxed and jumpers from all over the world converge to enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
Having held the record as the world`s highest suspension bridge from 1929 until 2001, it lost it when China opened the Liuguanghe Bridge which is twenty metres higher. Since then the rapid expansion in their road network has seen at least six more bridges built that are even higher.
However, the Royal Gorge Bridge is still the highest bridge in America and a truly wonderful place to visit.
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