Most Incredible Bridges?

Yeah it was fabulous. It was the first thing I did my first full day in Australia, after arriving the night before.

Well, you’ve hit on my unabridged passion. I could nerd out on bridges for hours (and often do…). I even have a reputation in my family: my brother once biked the west coast to California and on the way he sent me a postcard of the bridge in Newport, Oregon, having written on it, “for my bridge-lovin’ bro.”

I’ve always had an interest in engineering and big civil projects, it’s fun to learn about these structures and figure out how they were built. Bridges in particular are usually so iconic and impressive, not to mention crucial. I’ll always go out of my way to check out a cool bridge.

I know I have lots of photos in my collection that I’ll have to go through. For now I’ll leave you with two:

The windswept Astoria-Megler Bridge across the mouth of the Columbia River, one of those seemingly endless crossings. Taken from the Astoria Column on my own little trip down the coast of Washington and Oregon.

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And a side view of the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver. It’s one of those bridges that ends up seeming a lot smaller and kind of dinky once you’re there in person. But fortunately that doesn’t take away from the beauty.

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Love a futuristic cable bridge!

Yes! Moving and transforming bridges are a perfect subset of wondrous spans.

Ever since I first rode across it as a kid, I’ve always been in awe of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. To drive across it is to travel 23 miles over open water, dipping below the waves with a rhythm that makes you feel like the bridge is an living creature, trying to carry you across while needing the occasional rest.

The other thing I always notice is how near you are to the water. All in all it’s a very elemental experience to make the crossing.

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Swarkestone Bridge in Derbyshire, England is nearly a mile long, made of crumbly sandstone and is 700 years old. It’s an impressive sight, winding its way across a marshy flood plain on the River Trent, and still carrying two lanes of heavy traffic! https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/swarkestone-bridge
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I also love the Malleco Viaduct Railway in Chile’s Araucania Region, it looks like a giant bright yellow meccano set, and was once the worlds highest railway bridge. The fact that it has withstood some of the worlds larges earthquakes in it’s 125 year history is pretty impressive! https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/malleco-viaduct 3464566824_1e1777f841_o

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This isn’t exactly amazing but there is a small bridge at the College of William and Mary (my alma mater) that crosses the Crim Dell. Legend says that if you cross the Crim Dell alone you will never marry. Another legend says if you cross the Crim Dell with your lover and kiss in the middle you will never part. My husband proposed to me on the Crim Dell bridge. Still together after 32 years.crim%20dell

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Growing up in Washington, DC, I was always captivated by the Cabin John Bridge, as it was commonly known, aka The Union Arch Bridge. When you’re driving down the parkway, it kinda comes out of no where as you go around a bend, and most people don’t even notice it at all, let alone know it’s long history as a water viaduct for the city built during the Civil War, and later as a narrow one lane road, which it still supports. In fact, most people know about that narrow spot in MacArthur Parkway, but don’t have any idea that it is the top of this elegant, majestic old arch.

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The Key Bridge, also in DC heralds a dramatic entrance to the city when you enter from Maryland, at Georgetown.

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Suspension bridge in Punakha, Bhutan.

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Of all the places I’ve been, Charleston is the one I go back to again and again. Such a wonderful combination of history, great food, views… It defines “ambiance”. Just don’t ask me to walk over that bridge!

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Well, now I’m homesick again.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s Puente del Rey (the King’s Bridge), built between 1617 and 1634 to replace a previous wooden structure, in the historical site of Old Panama.

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Lloyd was always my fave…

wow I never heard of such a thing!

yes! this is one of the most amazing bridges (and tunnels) anywhere. amazing to drive, and also amazing (and weird!) looking from the air.

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In keeping with my tour of the bridges of Washington, DC (which I grew up loving), here’s another bridge there which is absolutely lovely but so understated and refined that it is practically invisible to the locals: The Arlington Memorial Bridge

It leads from the Lincoln Memorial (another reason the bridge doesn’t get attention, it respects the the magnificent memorials it connects) across the Potomac to Arlington National Cemetery. It also hides a wonderful secret, as noted in the Atlas.

It’s design draws inspiration from Napoleon’s “Pont au Change” in Paris, so much so that when I visited Paris I was taken aback when I suddenly saw this bridge:

Notice how Napolean’s massive “N” wreaths are, in the American version, replaced with giant bald eagles, evoking the seal of the United States. It, too, connects to the center of the French government, on the Ile de la Cite. (The designer of Washington was the great Frenchman, Pierre L’Enfant.)

It also bears a strong resemblance to another grand bridge to a national seat of power, The Old London Bridge which… hilariously… now sits astride a desert bound lake in Lake Havasu, Arizona, as told… in the Atlas!

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I have been awed by the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. It replaced a long switchbacked descent down one side of the gorge, a short, low bridge crossing, then a switchbacked ascent up the other side. It replaced what probably took 15-20 minutes with a few seconds crossing at highway speeds.

And the view from part-way inside of the gorge (you can see the old road climbing up the far side):

This is the crossing it replaced:

And I just realized that the bridge is already on Atlas Obscura: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/new-river-gorge-bridge

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The Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, California, is the closest notable bridge to me at about 15 miles (24km) south of where I live. I gained a new appreciation of it a few months ago when by pure chance I met a man whose grandfather was the construction superintendent on the bridge when it was built in 1932.


(Photo obtained from wallpaperup.com)

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I have an album on my PC filled with nature pics and I think this bridge is in one of them.

Thanks for this post! As a geographer I do love bridges, and have many of them featured on my Our Earth video channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/geographyuberalles/search?query=bridges These include those in NYC, Netherlands, Japan, elsewhere.

But my favorite is probably the Tunkhannock Viaduct in Pennsylvania: https://youtu.be/47yRHgA6jA4

–Joseph Kerski

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