FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — When you think of heights, what do you think about? Let’s put it into perspective.
876 feet is the amount of space that exists between the New River Gorge Bridge and the water that resides below. That’s a very far way down.
Where did this idea of Bridge Day come from? Let’s go back in time. It all started in 1909 with the Fayette Station Road, which used to be called Gentry Road. The bridge below the main arch bridge is the Tunney Hunsacker Bridge, and if you’re a visitor, you will know it as another name, “the little bridge,” which once again is putting everything into perspective. This bridge was the first of it’s kind as it was a bridge for cars to cross the New River Gorge. If you lived back in this time, you knew how much of an incredible sight this was to see.
Times were becoming more prosperous, and once the 1960s rolled around, construction began on Corridor L, also known as Route 19. But humanity ran into one little problem; how was it going to cross the New River Gorge?
Thinking caps were immediately put on, and an answer came to be, to build what was then the largest arch bridge in the world. Construction boomed in 1974, and then was finished in 1977.
The bridge is an incredible feat. A span of 3030 feet long. 876 feet high. 70 feet wide. An incredible 88 million pounds of U.S. Cor-Ten steel and American cement.
The bridge officially opened on October 22, 1977, and is a dedicated and iconic symbol of West Virginia, adding to the rich history of the Mountain State.
According to The Official Bridge Day Website, here are some more fun facts and memorable moments in the timeline of Bridge Day:
- 1977: The New River Gorge Bridge was dedicated and officially opened on Oct. 22.
- 1980: The first New River Gorge Bridge Day was held on November 8. There were two parachutists that jumped from a plane onto the bridge. There were five parachutists that jumped from the bridge into the Gorge. 5,500 certificates were given out to people taking the 3,000-foot walk across the bridge.
- 1981: 28 rappellers and 10 parachutists participated in Bridge Day.
- 1984: Three hundred BASE jumpers jumped from the bridge.
- 1985: Oak Hill & Fayetteville Post Offices offered the first Bridge Day cachet. Jon McBride, NASA astronaut, was the honored guest.
- 1986: Four hundred BASE jumpers took the plunge.
- 1990: Tom King and Vivian Taylor tie the knot in the first wedding on the bridge.
- 1992: Chris Allum bungee jumps from the bridge to set a world’s record for the longest bungee jump from a fixed structure.
- 1993: Chris Allum and six others bungee jump for a record seven person jump.
- 1997: 20th Anniversary of the dedication of the Bridge & Bridge Workers’ Appreciation Day. Twelve BASE Jumpers leaped off the bridge to break the world record for a simultaneous jump.
- 1998: Sixteen jumpers, a group of 12 followed by a group of 4, set a world record by jumping simultaneously.
- 2000: Two hundred sixty five people rappelled from the bridge.
- 2001: Bridge Day cancelled due to 9/11; The Spirit of Bridge Day was held in downtown Fayetteville. The First Mountain State Slalom and Skateboard Competition was held. The First Taste of Bridge Day was held.
- 2002: The First Bridge Day High Line was held. Bridge Day back on the bridge. Route 19 closed to through traffic from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 2006: The First Down Under Tour was held.
- 2007: Robert Handley became the oldest rapeller at 79.
- 2012: First catapult of BASE jumpers.
- 2017: Celebration of the Bridge’s 40th birthday
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