Royal Gorge Bridge
|Royal Gorge Bridge|
|Total length||1,260 ft (380 m)|
|Width||18 ft (5.5 m)|
|Longest span||880 ft (270 m)|
|Clearance below||956 ft (291 m)|
|Construction end||November 1929|
Royal Gorge Bridge
Royal Gorge Bridge
|Location:||crosses the Arkansas River in Fremont County, Colorado|
|Nearest city:||Cañon City|
|Area:||6.9 acres (2.8 ha)|
|Architectural style:||Suspension bridge|
|Added to NRHP:||September 2, 1983|
The Royal Gorge Bridge is a tourist attraction near Cañon City, Colorado, within a 360-acre (150 ha) theme park. 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 2001, when it was surpassed by the Liuguanghe 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. As of 2011[update], it is still among the ten highest bridges in the world and remains the highest in the United States.
Construction and history 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2010)|
The bridge was constructed in six months, between June 5, 1929, and late November 1929, at a cost of $350,000. To pay for construction, it was built as a toll bridge. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. 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, with a height of 956 ft. In 2003 it was surpassed by the Beipanjiang River 2003 Bridge with its height of 1,201 ft; however, the Royal Gorge is still the highest bridge in the United States. The cable-stayed Viaduc de Millau, completed in December 2004, is currently the tallest bridge in the world, at 1,118 feet (341 m), measured from the ground to the top of the bridge piers. However, its deck is only 885 feet (270 m) above the River Tarn.
In 1980 the bridge hosted the television show That's Incredible! for a different kind of jumping. On the show a group of British bungee jumpers from the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club set, at the time, world records for the highest bungee jump. The record setting jump went 800 feet (240 m) into the 1,053-foot (321 m) canyon. In 1981 the bridge featured in a GM Super Bowl commercial in which several hundred one-gallon gas cans were suspended under the bridge to demonstrate the amount of gas GM's new car would save.
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.
In October 2003, while performing a proximity demonstration, wingsuiter Dwain Weston was killed attempting to fly over the bridge. Weston was wearing a wingsuit, a skydiving suit with fabric extended below the arms to the body and between the legs to catch air allowing for horizontal travel when skydiving. Weston was to go over the bridge while fellow skydiver Jeb Corliss was to go under it. Miscalculating his distance from the bridge, Weston struck a railing while traveling an estimated 120 mph, dismembering him and killing him instantly. Cleanup from his impact took two full days, and many parts of Weston's body were never recovered.
Rides and 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
- Wapiti Western Wildlife Park
- Mountain man encampment
- Old West town
- Soaring Eagle Zip Line, built 2012
- Visitor center and shopping
- Water clock
- Various dining facilities
See also 
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Fremont County, Colorado
- List of bridges in the United States by height
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Rappold, R. Scott (March 4, 2010). "Arizona man topples Royal Gorge Bridge's lofty claim". The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO: Freedom Communications). Archived from the original on March 4, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2010. "(Eric Sakowski) stood on (the bridge) in 2005 and pointed his range finder at the bottom. He was shocked to discover it was 955 feet to the river below, 98 feet less than had been claimed." "After (learning that), Royal Gorge officials measured the bridge themselves and discovered it is 969 feet to the water."
- "Stunt Attempt Proves Fatal for Skydiver". Los Angeles Times. October 6, 2003. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Royal Gorge Bridge|
- Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- Photos of Royal Gorge Bridge
- Royal Gorge Bridge at Structurae
- "World's Highest Bridge Open to Traffic in West" Popular Mechanics, July 1931