The New River Gorge Bridge
When it opened in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge was the highest vehicular bridge
in the world, a record it kept until the 2004 opening of the Millau Viaduct in France.
|The New River Bridge has brought more
publicity to WV than anything since the Civil War. It's one
of the most amazing feats of mans design, fitting into the environment
without distraction. You can find all the information you'd
ever want to know about the bridge on Google, but this page
is more of a personal account. I watched the bridge as it was being
built. I made trips to the site every month and took pictures.
Most of those photos have been lost however.|
The last Cords being installed. Even the air temperature
had to taken into account to fit those last pieces.
I took this photo on a cold Sunday morning
by setting the timer on my camera... then running down the beam,
turning around and walking back when the shutter fired. Most
people think there was a net covering the edges of the bridge..
As you can see from this photo, (and
the one above) there was nothing to my left but 876 feet of air.
As I walked across the bridge many times,
I had no idea that in just a few short years I would be directly involved
for 25 years in something called "Bridge Day".
I would take-up skydiving not long after these photos, but jumping
off the bridge never really entered my mind at the time. Before
too long, I would be an important part of the crew that made Bridge
Day what it is today. I hired all the transportation,
helped with the day to day duties, and even built the stairs each
year that the jumpers would use. (at first, we just climbed
over the rail) More importantly, I fought against those who
wanted Bridge Day to end. Old fogies that couldn't see the benefit
of having 450 crazy jumpers a year risk their lives just for fun....
but at the same time bringing more publicity to the state than it
could EVER hope to get otherwise. The entire area has been built around
Bridge Day and Whitewater rafting, and the money that comes from Bridge
Day alone runs into the millions. I still have all the newspaper
clippings that I wrote about keeping Bridge Day alive. And they were
directed towards those in state government. But then, a new threat
arrived when the federal government acquired all the property under
the bridge, and wanted to stop bridge day. By then however,
we had enough people in power in Washington to put a halt to their
plans. After all, the biggest one day payday in the history
of the state wasn't going to end just because of "rules".
So a waiver was signed with the Feds and Bridge Day continues to this
This picture of me was taken of me in 1981.
It's not Bridge Day. I just wanted to jump off the bridge.
This has since been outlawed by the Feds who own all
the property under the bridge. There was never a law saying
that you couldn't jump off the bridge. There's still no law.
The law states that you "cant stop or stand on a bridge"
unless it's an emergency. However, there IS a law that you cant
"land" on federal property without permission.
|This was taken about 6 years ago when we got the new
diving board. Someone wondered how much flex the board had,
so I walked out early one morning before Bridge Day started just to
see for myself. That's Jason taking my photo. He's the Bridge
Day coordinator, after I turn down the position because they
wouldn't insure me.|
Two of many of my photos published by both Charleston
newspapers during construction.
To read more about the beginnings of Bridge Day, click
the link below:
OFFICIAL BRIDGE DAY HISTORY