- The Peter Guice Memorial Bridge holds the title of being the highest bridge in North Carolina.
- The Peter Guice Memorial Bridge is 225 feet tall and 1,050 feet long.
- The Peter Guice Memorial Bridge is the 3rd highest bridge with an interstate highway.
Bridges serve the public by offering safe passage, economic resources, education, and so much more. The opportunities for connectivity are profound.
North Carolina has over 18,000 road bridges, each unique and made from various materials, such as concrete, steel, timber, stone, or a combination of materials. The historic Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, and the Old Salem Heritage Bridge are just some of the bridges that showcase the state’s innovation and creativity of its architecture over time.
Many bridges in North Carolina are iconic landmarks with impressive engineering designs at various heights, but which one is the highest? The highest bridge in North Carolina is the Peter Guice Memorial Bridge!
The Highest Bridge in North Carolina
The Peter Guice Memorial Bridge is 225 feet tall and 1,050 feet long. It is the third-highest bridge that carries an interstate highway on the east coast of the United States. There are two 12-foot dual-lane bridges that carry I-26/US 74 across the Green River.
The I-26 is a regional interstate that’s 305.6 miles long, running from Tennesee to South Carolina. You can find the bridge between Saluda and East Flat Rock in Henderson County, NC.
There are many plant and animal species around the Peter Guice Memorial Bridge, both on the surrounding land and in the Green River below. The river is stocked with various trout, bass, and catfish species, attracting back bears to the area. Looking to the sky, you can see beautiful ruby-throated hummingbirds, blue jays, and American goldfinch. In addition to the abundance of fish and birds, the area may also consist of otters and beavers.
Since the Peter Guice Memorial Bridge is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is much to explore. Hike along some of the most beautiful hiking trails in North Carolina, visit some of the many waterfalls, or mountain bike popular gravel trails. The best time to visit the area and explore is during the summer, spring, and fall. The animals are out, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is beaming!
History of Peter Guice Memorial Bridge
The Peter Guice Memorial Bridge was inspired and built by Peter Guice in 1820. He saw a need for a bridge to help travelers cross the Green River from the south into Henderson County. But, unfortunately, the wooden toll bridge was much lower than the current one.
His son, Joseph Alexander, took over operations of the toll bridge and repaired it after an undocumented storm destroyed it. Joseph’s grandson, Joseph “Joe” Ripley Guice, replaced the bridge in 1916 after a flood wiped away the second toll bridge.
In the 1960s, the wooden bridge was irreparable, so engineers erected two steel-frame concrete bridges. Construction of the new bridges was completed in 1972, costing a whopping $3,758,028.
An American Bridge Division of US Steel Corporation project engineer, William B. Zeeveld, stated, “The steel, fabricated in Ambridge, Penn., was railroaded upright to Zirconia. With no roads to the construction site, a crew forged a path to transport the material, which was loaded flat and hauled through the woods. Some of the girders, 100 feet long by fourteen feet deep, weighed 28 tons.“
Rehabilitation of the Bridge
The bridges were rehabilitated again in 1993 due to poor and missing welds in the structure. However, as of July 2018, both bridges are structurally inadequate and functionally outdated. The bridges would then undergo extensive renovation beginning in 2021.
The rehabilitation of both bridges includes demolishing and rebuilding the superstructure, with both structures connecting. In addition, there will be an extra lane of traffic added in both directions.
Once rehabilitation is completed, don’t look down while driving across this majestic bridge! However, take a moment every time to enjoy the stunning view from the top of the world!
Wildlife Around Peter Guice Memorial Bridge
Peter Guice Memorial Bridge and the surrounding area are home to amazing adventures with abundant fauna and flora. You can go mountain biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, tubing, or river rafting. So if you love the outdoors, Henderson County is a great place to visit. With beautiful meadows, woodlands, forests, and mountain peaks, there’s much to discover. Let’s learn about some wildlife you can expect to see there.
The landscape around Peter Guice Memorial Bridge is woodlands and grasslands, where you can find a variety of flourishing birds, including:
- Ruby-throated hummingbirds
- Red-eyed vireo
- American goldfinch
- Northern cardinal
- Red-bellied woodpecker
- Great blue heron
- Blue jays
Various mammals call the area around Peter Guice Memorial Bridge home. So be on the lookout for black bears, deer, and opossums. Due to the lush vegetation around the Green River, black bears have an ample food and water supply. The Green River is stocked with fish, and there are berries and nuts in the surrounding area.
You may also spot some river otters frolicking on the water beds. Otters adapt well in rivers and freshwater habitats, which may be why they thrive in the Green River. They are social animals that often get caught playing and conversing with each other. Otters aren’t the only creature living in Green River. You might even spot some beavers. Beavers will use tree branches along the riverbed to create dams and lodges. In addition, ducks and turtles are common sighting around the bridge!
So many fish in the Green River below the bridge will excite any angler ready for their next catch. The Green River is known for its large rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout populations. Visit the river in spring as it brings many aquatic insects, which will become a delicious treat for trout.
Other fish populations include smallmouth bass and catfish to offer diversity in the river. Get lost in the excitement of fishing in the serene river environment. But don’t let your adventure end there. Go fly fishing, river rafting, or tubing in the Green River. Put the stress of the hustle and bustle of everyday life aside and get in touch with your environment’s stunning sights and smells.
Plants Around Peter Guice Memorial Bridge
Henderson County is full of wonder. It consists of beautiful valleys, woodlands, rolling hills, and tall, rugged peaks. But what adds to the beauty of the area? The plants!
Hiking is a must if you visit this landmark bridge. You can see miles of upright, evergreen pine and fir trees. Some of the most common fir species in the region are Douglas-fir and noble fir, which are easily recognizable by their needle-like leaves and the cones they produce.
Another common tree surrounding the bridge is the oak tree. The adorned hardwood trees contribute to the area’s beauty and diverse ecosystem, providing a home for many birds and small animal species. In addition to oak, hemlock trees thrive in Henderson County’s climate.
Where Is Peter Guice Memorial Bridge Located?
You can find Henderson County on the crest of Blue Ridge Mountain in the southwestern region of North Carolina. The county was named after Chief Justice Leonard Henderson of the Supreme Court. The Peter Guice Memorial Bridge carries the I-26/US 74 across the Green River in Henderson County, NC, between Saluda and East Flat Rock.
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