As the tallest and longest bridge of its time, the Kinzua Viaduct embodied the spirit of the industrial revolution. Cargo and sightseers rumbled across the viaduct for 120 years until an F1 tornado toppled the viaduct in 2003. Today, a skywalk and observation deck mark the next stage in Kinzua Bridge State Park's history. Full steam ahead. As president of a local coal and railroad company, Thomas L. Kane needed a faster way to transport natural resources to northern markets. His team of engineers went to work. While Octave Chanute calculated sheer force to strengthen the viaduct against high winds, Aldolphus Bonzano designed the iron work. Thomas L. Kane had the vision to span the steep and wide Kinzua Creek Valley. -Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Octave Chanute, Chief Engineer for the Erie Railroad, designed the viaduct using Phoenix Columns, a light weight and strong cast iron truss system. Adolphus Bonzano, Chief Engineer for the Phoenix Bridge Company, embraced the engineering challenges. - Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area. The viaduct, once dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," has been a popular tourist attraction for generations. Snapshot in time. + 1882 Original iron construction is completed in 94 days. + 1900 Steel
reconstruction supports more and heavier train traffic. + 1959 Train traffic stops. + 1963 The commonwealth purchases the land for a future state park. + 1970 Kinzua Bridge State Park opens. + 1977 The viaduct is placed on the National Register of Historic Places. + 1982 The viaduct is listed as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. + 1987 Excursion train traffic begins again. + 2002 The viaduct is deemed unsafe and excursion train traffic stops. + 2003 The viaduct is closed to pedestrian traffic, work begins to stabilize the structure, and a tornado strikes. + 2011 Skywalk is completed. + 2016 Visitor Center and Park Office opens.