TORNADO: July 21, 2003 will be remembered as the day a tornado toppled 11 of 20 towers on the Kinzua Viaduct.

The century old bridge was destroyed in less than 30 seconds. Eighteen years ago today, an F1 tornado touched down in the Kinzua Bridge State Park at 3:20 p.m.

The viaduct had been under repair by W.M. Brode Construction out of Ohio since February. That day, the weather was poor and the crew had stopped working, because the rust-proof paint they were using on the towers wasn’t drying in the rain. They were getting ready to leave when the wind picked up. Trees started falling, blocking the road out of the park. The men took cover.

And then they heard several loud booms.

It was the towers falling.

After that fateful day, it took some time to decide what the state would do with the park. Rebuilding the bridge was ruled out quickly. It would be far too costly.

The remaining towers were shored up, the fallen towers were stabilized and a visitor center was constructed.

The Skywalk was constructed, and visitors came rushing back to see firsthand the story of resiliency that the bridge represents.

In 2017, Gov. Tom Wolf walked out to see the glass floor of the skywalk, some 225 feet above the floor of the Kinzua Gorge. First Lady Frances Wolf, however, admired it from a distance.

The park is one of the best places to see fall foliage, if we do say so ourselves. It has been host to weddings, club meetings and many, many tours.

How long has it been since you’ve visited?

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