Bradford Things to Do
Kinzua Bridge, constructed in 1882, was once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. It stood 301 feet over the creek below, and it stretched 2,052 feet across the valley, making it the longest and tallest railroad bridge in the world when it was completed. In 1900 the iron bridge was dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt of steel to allow it to carry increasingly heavier loads. The last commercial trains ran the route in 1959, and the State of Pennsylvania took over the site. In 1988 a sightseeing train began operation over the bridge on the Knox and Kane Railroad from Marienville, PA.
When I was a kid, back in the 1980s, my grandpa loved this old bridge. He was amazed by the sheer height of the bridge, and we used to try to drop stones from the center to the stream below. Walking all the way across the bridge and back was a leisurely stroll of almost a mile.
Sadly the bridge was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003, when winds of at least 94 miles per hour toppled 11 of the 20 steel support towers. This photo on Wikipedia shows the bridge after the destruction: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/Kinzua_Bridge_panorama_2.jpg. The bridge will not be rebuilt due to the huge estimated cost ($45M), but in 2011 the state completed a $4.5M upgrade that will allow visitors to walk 600 feet out on the remaining section of bridge and peer down through a glass observation deck called the"Tracks Across the Sky."
The bridge is located in Kinzua Bridge State Park, which consists of 32 acres of northwest Pennsylvania's finest woodlands. The area offers hiking among the ruins of the old towers, facilities for picnics and other recreation.
Kinzua Dam was authorized in the 1930s but not started until 1960. When built along the Allegheny River Valley, Pennsylvania's last Indian reservation, which housed the Seneca Indians, was forced to relocate to Salamanca, New York. 10,000 acres here were granted to the Seneca by a 1794 treaty, and here they remained until the dam was built and water covered their homes.
This was one of my grandfather's favorite places to visit when I was a growing up in Western Pennsylvania. In fact, I took the photos with my grandfather in about 1985 or so.
Bradford, Pennsylvania is where the world-famous Zippo Windproof Lighters were first invented and are still manufactured today. It is also the birthplace of the famous Case knives! Today, Zippo owns the Case company, and the Zippo-Case Visitors Center houses the Zippo/Case Museum! When you enter the visitors center, you will find the gift shop, where you can purchase Zippo or Case items. The museum begins in the back of the shop. There is a short video that shows the history of both the Zippo and Case companies. The museum contains a large amount of Zippo and Case memorabilia and information. It shows how important Zippo was to American soldiers in WWII, how it became popular in American homes, Zippos in popular American films, and Zippo lighters from around the world! If you have a Zippo Windproof Lighter you can get it repaired here for free! Also, the Zippo/Case Museum is completely free, so it is well worth your time to come!
(hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Saturday. Thursdays it remains open until 7:00 pm, and on Sundays it is open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm)Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
76 ELM STREET, Bradford, PA 16701
Good for: Solo
This is a nice hotel and they were undergoing a renovation to improve part of the facilities. The...more
515 South Ave, Bradford, Pennsylvania, 16701, United States
Good for: Solo
920 E Main St, Bradford, Pennsylvania, 16701, United States
Good for: Families
1000 Glendorn Drive
Good for: Solo
136 Jackson Ave., Bradford, Pennsylvania, 16701, United States
Good for: Couples
1032 W Corydon St, Bradford, PA 16701
Favorite thing: If there were only one place, and one place only, in Bradford, Pennsylvania worth visiting, it would have to be the Zippo Lighter Visitors Center. You can view Zippo employees repairing old lighters on site. Hershey, PA has its Hershey Kiss street lights but Bradford has its Zippo lighter street lights.
Of course there is much more to see and do there including the University of Pittsburgh - Bradford Campus. My son is a student there.
Also, it is incredible to see the operating oil rigsbut then Bradford is located near the site of the first America oil strike. The Allegheny National Forest is nearby.
There is still so much for me to explore and learn about .... maybe on my next visit.
Fondest memory: Taking my son to college there and helping him move into his dorm.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: The fine old architecture in this small northwestern Pennsylvania town is a reminder that many years ago there were more people, and much more money in Bradford that there is today. Bradford is one of many towns in this part of the state that profited by being in America's first producing oil field. Long before oil was discovered in Texas or Alaska, it was found in Pennsylvania. Brands such as Quaker State and Pennzoil remind us of that fact.
Bradford is in McKean County, near the Pennsylvania/New York state line. It is a great staging area for outdoor activities in "The Wilds" of Pennsylvania. Among the points of interest in the town itself is the Penn-Brad Oil Museum.
There is still some oil here, including a working well in the parking lot of the Bradford McDonalds Restaurant.
Bradford isn't dead, but it is sleepy. I would call it a sleeping beauty.
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