Kinzua Viaduct: The Fallen Bridge

On 21 July 2003, a fierce tornado struck northern Pennsylvania and destroyed a large section of the Kinzua Viaduct, a historic railroad trestle that was once billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.

The Kinzua Viaduct was first constructed in 1882, and at that time it was the highest and longest viaduct in the world measuring 92 meters tall and 625 meters long. The viaduct was built by the Lake Erie and Western Railway as part of a line from Bradford south to the coal fields in Elk County. Engineer Octave Chanute decided it'd be cheaper to build a bridge across the Kinzua Valley than to lay an additional 13 km of track over rough terrain. When finished, the bridge was larger than any that had been attempted, and over twice as large as the largest similar structure at the time, the Portage Bridge over the Genesee River in western New York.

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Kinzua Viaduct

The collapsed ruins of Kinzua Viaduct. Photo: Manfred Schmidt/


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