Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain turns 68 years old

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LINVILLE, N.C. — For more than six decades, Grandfather Mountain has been home to the Mile High Swinging Bridge.

According to Our State, the bridge first opened on Sept. 2, 1952. This year marks the 68nd anniversary of that day.

After closing for two months due to the pandemic, Grandfather Mountain reopened in May.

  • Mile High Swinging Bridge. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
  • Grandfather Mountain set for limited opening May 15. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
  • Grandfather Mountain set for limited opening May 15. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Hugh Morton inherited Grandfather Mountain in 1952 with a dream of creating the Mile High Swinging Bridge, according to Our State.

Charles Hartmann Jr., of Greensboro, drew up the designs, and, Truitt Manufacturing fabricated the bridge before Craven Steel Erecting Company moved it up to its home on the mountain.

About $15,000 later, Morton welcomed the world to one of North Carolina’s most breathtaking experiences.

“Hugh Morton was a master promoter and a bit of a gambler,” Robert Hartley told Our State. “When he started out, people in Tennessee didn’t know where Grandfather Mountain was. Now, it’s known all over the world. You know, it’s sort of a miracle.”

Hartley was the general manager of Grandfather Mountain for more than a decade and a half from 1968 to 1985. He was also a lifelong friend of the Mortons.

Stretching about 228 feet across Grandfather’s Convention Table Rock and Linville Peak, the bridge overlooks a deep, 80-foot chasm.

The structure was remade in the late 1990s at a cost of $300,000. The I beams, however, are the same that have held this incredible sight since 1952.

Former North Carolina Tourism Director Charles J. Parker was the first to give the bridge its name, according to Our State.

While the bridge is not a mile above the ground, it is a mile above sea level. All the same, the Mile High Swinging Bridge is touted as America’s highest suspension footbridge.

Rather than purchasing tickets at the park’s entrance gate, visitors are asked to do so online at www.grandfather.com by placing a reservation for a set date and time of entry.

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