Most people drive over bridges without giving them a second thought. But many American spans are marvels of design and engineering. So the next time you’re on a road trip, try working in one of these superlative crossings.
Sachs Covered Bridge, Pennsylvania
The oldest of 17 historic bridges in southern Pennsylvania, this span has a storied past. It was used by both Union and Confederate troops during the Battle of Gettysburg. In fact, after what was a crushing defeat, army commander General Robert E. Lee marched his battered Southern troops across the bridge in retreat. The 100-foot-long crossing, built around 1852, is now an official landmark.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia
At more than 17 miles long, this span is considered one of the longest bridges in the world. But this is perhaps its most unique feature: at two points, the elevated crossing plunges below the water’s surface and into tunnels each a mile long. The passageways are designed to allow ships—including aircraft carriers—to move in and out of Chesapeake Bay, home to some of America’s busiest ports.
Steel Bridge, Oregon
What it lacks in size—the span is just over 790 feet long—it makes up for in uniqueness. Built in 1912, the center section of this double-decker bridge can be raised to allow boats to pass underneath. It is reportedly one of just two such bridges in the country and the only one that remains in operation. And how: despite its age, it still carries pedestrians, cars, trams and Amtrak trains.
Seven Mile Bridge, Florida
This is the longest of the more than three dozen spans that connect the Florida Keys to the mainland. One of America’s most photogenic bridges, it skirts the clear turquoise waters of southern Florida and has been featured in movies like True Lies and License to Kill. Opened in 1982, it runs parallel to what’s affectionately known as “The Old Seven,” a century-old former railway that has been transformed into a haven for pedestrians, cyclists and fishermen.
New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia
Located just outside Fayetteville, this 3,000-foot span towers over the scenic New River Gorge in the heart of the Appalachians. The bridge is supported by a steel arch that measures 1,700 feet, the longest in the United States. The roadway sits more than 80 stories above the river, offering breathtaking views of New River Gorge and the surrounding hills.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York
The span smashed the world record for longest bridge when it opened in 1883, earning it the nickname “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” Today, the venerable old bridge—with its iconic Gothic support towers—still carries 150,000 cars and pedestrians daily. To really soak in its grandeur, we recommend stowing the minivan and crossing its 1,595 feet on foot. There are few better places to ogle Manhattan’s skyline and New York Harbor.
We know the journey is just as important as the destination. Our Top 7 Most Scenic Drives in the U.S. are just what you need to inspire your next getaway.