Virginia March 13, 2016
This Terrifying Swinging Bridge In Virginia Will Make Your Stomach Drop
Swinging bridges may be safe in theory, but there’s nothing quite as unsettling as walking onto a creaky bridge suspended many feet above ground. Especially if it’s an old bridge. With parts of it dating back to 1851, the Swinging Bridge in Buchanan is a historically important and also structurally daunting site you’ll want to visit soon (or cross, if you dare).
Buchanan's Swinging Bridge is owned by VDOT and is registered as a Virginia historic landmark. The bridge is 366 feet long, 57.5 feet tall, and no others like it exist on the James River. The Historic District of Buchanan centers around this very bridge.
Parts of the stone piers you see today were constructed in 1851 as part of a covered toll bridge. The original toll was five cents per person, and an additional five cents per wagon, horse, oxen or mule. Most of this original bridge was burned in 1864 by a Confederate soldier in an attempt to prevent opposing forces from crossing the James en route to Lynchburg. The flood of 1877 tragically washed away the bridge's renovation after the war.
The R&A Railroad Company decided to rebuild a toll-free covered bridge. 20 years later, this bridge was replaced with the steel swinging bridge that remains today. The Mayor at the time wanted to ensure that residents would have access to Pattonsburg by means of this pedestrian bridge. Therefore a second concrete bridge was built for other traffic to cross the James. Construction of this bridge began in the summer of 1937. On July 4th, 1938, Former Governor Trinkle dedicated both bridges.
Cautionary signs limit the number of people on the bridge to three at a time and also warn against running or causing the bridge to sway. After seeing the bridge, you probably won't need to be told this twice!
The Swinging Bridge offers incredible views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. For 150 years, parts of the bridge have played a significant role in the town's history, which is why the Swinging Bridge is featured on Buchanan's town seal.
Have you crossed Buchanan’s Swinging Bridge? We’d love to hear about your experience there!