BRADFORD, PA – November 9, 2011 – That famous movie line “If you build it, they will come” came to fruition this fall as visitation at the Kinzua Bridge State Park saw an increase of a staggering 465 percent from four years ago.
Visitation at McKean County’s only state park in October was a record 66,353, according to Park Manager Jason Heasley.“Tourism for this fall season has been a record high with the addition of the Kinzua Sky Walk,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, the destination marketing organization for McKean County. “Our local businesses are seeing a boost in business since the Sky Walk opened in September.”
Visitation the weekend the Kinzua Sky Walk opened in mid-September was an estimated 16,000.
“Our lodging reported sold-out nights; our restaurants and shops were full of tourists who traveled to see the new Kinzua Sky Walk. We had people checking in at our ANF Visitors Bureau Welcome Center in Bradford from all over the United States and Canada. We even had a family from Israel who were going to see the Kinzua Sky Walk – and this is only the beginning.”The Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau is commemorating the “reinvention” of the historic towers of the Kinzua Viaduct as the Kinzua Bridge Sky Walk with a newly designed Zippo lighter which features a profile photograph of the structure.
“We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Zippo Manufacturing Co., an American institution on its own, to develop a great keepsake on another great icon in our region,” Devlin said.
The lighters are available at the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau’s Welcome Center located in the Old Post Office at 80 E. Corydon St., Bradford. Each lighter costs $29.95 plus tax. Lighters can be shipped for an additional $4.95 plus tax.
To order a lighter, call the ANFVB at 800-473-9370 or e-mail info@visitANF.com. Payment can be made by cash, check, Visa or Master Card. Orders can also be made on the Visitors Bureau’s website, www.visitANF.com.
The ANFVB is also working on a new book, which will be an illustrated history of the Kinzua Viaduct, that is set to be released by the Spring of 2012. The book will feature historic photos, the story of the first building of the bridge in wrought iron, the rebuilding of the bridge in steel, and the most recent restoration of the towers as the Kinzua Sky Walk. The 329-acre Kinzua Bridge State Park, located minutes from Mount Jewett, features the remnants of the 2,053-foot long viaduct that was once the longest and highest viaduct in the world. The structure was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003 and six towers were restored and restructured as the Kinzua Sky Walk in 2011.
The new Kinzua Sky Walk is sure to spark more tourism dollars into the region in the future.
Devlin conservatively estimated that if the area reaches pre-tornado visitation numbers of 160,000 annually, an estimated additional $11.5 million will be brought into the region each year through tourism dollars.
To say that is conservative is an understatement given that the park reached about a quarter of that in just one month.
For more information on the lighter, the book, or on tourism in the Allegheny National Forest Region, e-mail the visitors bureau at info@visitANF.com or call 800-473-9370.