A couple of weeks ago we walked to the Lower Van Stadens Dam and got a side view of the narrow-gauge bridge over the gorge from the northern side. The Van Stadens rail bridge is the second highest railway bridge in South Africa and the highest narrow-gauge bridge in the world. Construction on the bridge was completed in 1905 and the bridge is 156m long, 77m high and contains 1 112 cubic meters of concrete and 574 tons of steel.
This narrow-gauge line from Port Elizabeth was authorised in 1899 and construction commenced in 1902, reaching the town of Avontuur in the Langkloof late in 1906. The line was built to connect the scenic Langkloof with its fruit-growing industry to the port of Port Elizabeth. The official opening of the line was in 1907, with a mainline track length of 284km from Port Elizabeth to Avontuur. The 30km branch line from Gamtoos Junction to Patensie was completed in 1914 to serve this citrus-producing area. The line has not been used since the Apple Express stopped running along here in 2010.
Unfortunately the bridge has seen better days and as visible in these pictures (in the collage) I took a couple of years ago the elements have taken their toll. You can still walk and mountain bike across the bridge and a lot of people making use of the trails in the area do. It’s a scary experience though so don’t look down.