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What You Didn’t Know About The History of Bridge Day
June 14, 2012


Bridge Day is a wonderful fall festival. It’s the largest single day event in WV, with crowds often estimated at close to 100,000 visitors.  But there’s plenty you might not know about Bridge Day. Read on…

In the beginning, Bridge Day was not planned as a yearly event. The first public event on the Bridge was the 1977 dedication ceremony organized by then-Governor Jay Rockefeller.  This dedication gave the public a chance to walk out onto the historic super structure. The estimated crowd of about 30,000 people was far more than had been anticipated. This large crowd is probably one of the reasons that Bridge Day exists today.

Another little known fact: the first BASE jump off of the Bridge was done in August 1979, after dark. By a local West Virginian. Yes, Burton Ervin, a mine foreman from Cowen, WV made his historic leap at 10:15 pm before an impromptu crowd of about 200 people. He did it so late in the day because winds and threat of rain kept him from jumping any earlier. So now you know; the first BASE jump from the Bridge wasn’t even associated with Bridge Day.

The Bridge Dedication

The Festival

There is lots of other interesting Bridge Day history that you may have never heard. For example:

  •  5,500 people were given certificates proclaiming them the first to walk across this mega-structure.
  • There were quite a few BASE jumps made before it ever became “legal” to do so on Bridge Day.
  • The first rappelling from the Bridge happened in 1981.
  • There was a Bridge Day wedding in 1990. Tom and Vivian Taylor tied the knot and then hoped their parachutes didn’t get knotted up as they plunged off the Bridge.
  • The first bungee from the Bridge included an inflatable pink elephant.
  • There was a World Record set on Bridge Day. Chris Allum set the record for the longest bungee from a fixed structure in 1992.
  • Bridge Day has only been canceled once. In 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, Bridge Day was cancelled for safety reasons.

It’s no surprise that this 32-year old event has some interesting history. Bridge Day is now an annual WV tradition with folks coming from all over the world to be part of the event.

If you’ve never experienced Bridge Day, mark your calendar for October 20, 2012, and plan to join us. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be there when the next bit of Bridge Day history is made.

Do you know anyone who has attended every Bridge Day? Tell us about them in the comments.

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One Response to What You Didn’t Know About The History of Bridge Day

  1. Slick says:

    The first rappel from the New River Gorge Bridge was attempted on Jan.1, 1977 at 12:00 midnight. The attempt was foiled because the 1000 ft. rope got tangled. It was successfully done at midnight on Jan. 2, 1977 by a group of seven people led by renowned spelunker and thril seeker Sara Corrie, of Huntington, WV

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