MOUNT JEWETT — Georgia Pacific Corporation with a plant on Hutchins Road, Mount Jewett, has donated $25,000 to the Kinzua Bridge State Park Foundation for themed-playground equipment at the park.
Representing Georgia Pacific, on behalf of all the plant’s employees, for the presentation Thursday during the foundation’s annual meeting were Sid Beckwith and Heather Meyers.
“‘This puts us much closer to reaching the goal of $110,000 for the train-themed playground at the park,” said Jeff Wolfe, chairman of this project for the foundation, which was incorporated in 1993 as a non-profit organization with the goals of restoration and preservation of the world-famous structure and promoting its historical and cultural importance, in addition to the continued development of the park.
A very happy and grateful Mary Ann Burggraf, the foundation’s president and executive director, commented, “We’re ecstatic about this generous donation. We’re glad to get this project off the ground, and we know the children will be too.”
Wolfe provided information on the current donations and pledges for the equipment: In addition to Georgia Pacific’s contribution, the list shows Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, $25,000 pledge; Kinzua Bridge Foundation’s fundraising, $10,000; Highland Field Services/Seneca Resources, $1,000; and $500 each from Zook Motors, Kane; Triple S Recycling, Tionesta; and Mount Jewett United Methodist Church. Approximately $700 has come from other donations.
Donations may be sent to the Kinzua Bridge Foundation, c/o Hamlin Bank and Trust Company, 34 Fraley Street, Kane, PA 16735 or through Paypal to email@example.com.
Planning for the playground project began last year. Upon learning about “The Rail Station,” through their research, members decided unanimously to purchase this system that features a train, building, and colorful slides. It will be located near the park’s pavilion, Burggraf said.
Not only will this playground equipment provide enjoyment for the youngsters, but it also keeps alive the history of the bridge that was originally built in 1882 to access the coal fields in Elk County and as an alternative to the more expensive laying of eight additional miles of track over harsh terrain.
The project took only 94 working days, certainly an engineering feat. When completed, the bridge at 301 feet high, was the world’s largest and tallest railroad bridge. Soon it was advertised as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
During the first restoration in 1900, the bridge was dismantled and rebuilt, making it stronger and capable of supporting heavier trains.
Then the unthinkable happened in 2003. Many of the bridge’s steel columns collapsed during an F1 tornado that swept through this area.
Today, the bridge is the main attraction for this state park that, along with Elk State Park, Wilcox, and Bendigo State Park, St. Marys, comprise the Bendigo State Park Complex.
Kinzua Bridge State Park, with its famous “Sky Walk” is one of Pennsylvania’s most visited state parks. “Last year, for example, more than a quarter of a million visitors came here,” said Park Manager Mitch Stickle.
During the business meeting, all the officers were returned to their executive positions on the board. In addition to Burggraf, the others are Debbie Lunden, vice president and secretary; and Deb Kilmer, treasurer.