On October 22, 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, WV, officially opened. At the time, it was the world’s longest single-span expansion bridge at 3,030 feet across. That’s 390 feet more than half a mile.
When you’re driving across, it seems further.
Each October the bridge is open to pedestrians for one day–Bridge Day–which is this coming Saturday. They actually close the bridge for most of the day, which means if you want to drive from one side of the gorge to the other it will take 20 minutes instead of 30 seconds.
People celebrate Bridge Day by doing fun things like listening to live music, competing in a chili cook-off, taking tours down into the gorge, and jumping off the bridge.
Yup, you read that last one right. It’s 876 feet from the middle of the bridge to the river below and people are allowed to rapel and base jump. They sign up way in advance and vie for the chance to do this. Seriously. Jumpers need to have training and experience, but anyone can do a tandem jump with a group called Tandem Base. Well, the first 16 people willing to pay $1,275 for the chance can.
If you were thinking about surprising me with this as a gift, that’s okay, I’m good.
This year event organizers have also added a high line–no experience required–that allows adventurers to ride a zip line 700 feet from the bridge to a road below.
Phew. I’ll just have a pepperoni roll, listen to some music, and enjoy the view.
Here are a few more crazy facts about the New River Gorge Bridge:
- It weighs 88 million pounds. Held up by a single arch.
- The Washington Monument would fit under the bridge with 325 feet to spare.
- Throughout the year there are Bridge Walk tours offered. They guide you on a stroll of the full length of the catwalk under the bridge. People pay to do this.
- When the bridge was opened in 1977 it cut the trip across the gorge from 45 minutes to 30 seconds.
If you want to learn more about Bridge Day or the bridge itself, click here. I recommend a visit. Although I can’t advise you about jumping off of it.