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The Royal Gorge Bridge is a tourist attraction near Cañon Citymarker, Coloradomarker, within a 360 acre (1.5 km²) theme park. The bridge deck hangs 1,053 feet (321 m) above the Arkansas Rivermarker, and the bridge is billed as the highest suspension bridge in the world. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad runs under the bridge along the base of Royal Gorge. The bridge is 1260 feet (384 m) long and 18 feet (5 m) wide, with a wooden walkway with 1292 planks. The bridge is suspended from towers that are 150 feet (46 m) high.

Sign on the Royal Gorge Bridge showing its height

The bridge was constructed in six months, between June 5, 1929 and late November 1929, as a toll bridge, at a cost of $350,000. 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 cable-stayed Viaduc de Millaumarker, completed in December 2004, is the tallest bridge in the world, at 1,118 feet (341 m), but its road/vehicle deck is only 885 ft (270 m) above the River Tarnmarker. The Royal Gorge Bridge is still the highest suspension bridge in the world currently in use, as well as the bridge with the highest deck-to-surface clearance. Several bridges under construction, including two suspension bridges, are taller and have higher clearances.

The height of the bridge makes it an attractive spot for suicide by jumping; however, park and security personnel constantly patrol the bridge in order to prevent such suicides.

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 consumed excessive amounts of Champagne before stepping off the bridge to set, at the time, world records for the highest bungee jump. The record setting jump went 800 feet into the 1,053-foot canyon. In 1981 the bridge was the subject in a GM Super Bowl commercial where in which GM suspended several hundred one gallon gas cans from under the bridge to demonstrate the amount of gas their new car would save you.

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 roughly eight times the original cost of the bridge.

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 160 km/h, killing him instantly and dismembering extremities. Portions of the video documenting the stunt are available on the internet, along with commentary of Corliss regarding his witnessing the accident. Weston was an experienced skydiver and BASE jumper with over 1200 jumps.

Attractions At The Royal Gorge Bridge And Park

  • Aerial Tram- Built in 1968
  • Incline Railway- Built in 1931
  • Antique Replica Carousel
  • Horseback And Burro Rides
  • Silver Rock Railway
  • Mule Team Wagon Rides
  • Royal Rush Skycoaster- Built in 2003
  • Trolley
  • Cliff Walk (Scenic Overhang)
  • Point Sublime (Scenic Pavilion)
  • Petting Zoo
  • Visitor Center And Shopping
  • Various Dining Facilities

See also

External links

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