The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) held a dedication ceremony for the new Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center and Park Office in Mt. Jewett on Thursday, September 15th.
Visitors to the Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center will find a lobby and two exhibit halls spanning 2,800 square feet, as well as public restrooms, classroom space, and administrative offices. The PA Wilds Conservation Shop is also at the visitor center. At the shop, visitors can purchase unique artisan wares made by local artisans via the The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania. Visitors can also buy branded merchandise. Proceeds from the shop go to the visitor center’s resources, community development program, and business program.
The visitor center is pushing for LEED certification. The certification includes the following: wood that is certified sustainable; materials that are sourced regionally and which contain a large amount of recycled content; plumbing fixtures that are water-efficient; diverting construction waste and debris to recycling centers in lieu of landfills; and a geothermal cooling and heating system.
Cindy Adams Dunn, who is the DCNR secretary, announced the dedication ceremony in an August 4th news release. She stated the following, “Since the skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park was completed in 2011, we’ve seen a growing number of visitors at the park coming to enjoy this unique experience… The new center enhances their visit, welcoming them with exhibits and information about the history of the area and the many opportunities for outdoor activities at the park and in the Pennsylvania Wilds region… I got a sneak peek at the fantastic interactive exhibits and the green features in the new building and I know people are going to be impressed and excited to get out and explore after their visit.”
Dunn went on to make the following statements:
“We also are thrilled that the facility is the location of the first ‘PA Wilds Conservation Shop,’ the result of a public-private partnership with the non-profit PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship.”
“DCNR has been making significant investments in its facilities and attractions in the Pennsylvania Wilds… This visitor center is intended to complement our other regional investments, including the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle, the Elk Country Visitor Center, and the Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning. It gives visitors the opportunity to spend several days in the region enjoying nature and the unique and special character of the area.”
Pennsylvania Representative Martin Causer (R) issued the following statement about the dedication in a September 14th Facebook post:
“I’m really looking forward to taking part in tomorrow’s dedication of the new Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitors Center! The new center offers exhibits and information about the history of our area, as well as the bridge. It includes 2,800 square feet of space in two exhibit halls and a lobby, plus park offices, public restrooms and classroom space. The dedication starts at 1 p.m.”
Kinzua Bridge State Park is on 323 acres. It contains what is left of the 2,053-foot long viaduct/railroad bridge which was initially made of iron in 1882. In 1900, it was rebuilt out of steel. The railroad bridge used several arches to take the railroad across the valley.
In 2003, the railroad bridge was destroyed by a tornado. However, in 2011, a pedestrian walkway using what is left of the bridge was opened by the DCNR. From the walkway, visitors can look down at the Kinzua Creek Valley Gorge. The Kinzua Skywalk was among the world’s Top 10 Skywalks in 2014.
If you would like more information about Kinzua Bridge State Park, you can visit www.dcnr.pa.gov and click on “State Parks.” If you would like to learn more about the PA Wilds Center and the Pennsylvania Wilds, you can visit www.pawildscenter.org. To learn more about the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, you can visit www.pawildsartisans.com.