WOLFE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The heavy winds that blew across Kentucky destroyed an iconic symbol of the Red River Gorge.
Hikers who complete the Sheltowee Trace Trail cross the Red River on a long suspension bridge. That bridge's likeness is found on postcards, t-shirts, and other Red River Gorge souvenirs.
"It’s absolutely an iconic symbol of the Sheltowee Trace, also an iconic symbol of the Red River Gorge, honestly," said Drew Stevens, a volunteer for the Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team.
Saturday, a tree fell onto the bridge, sending the planks down into the river. The cables remain strung across.
"You know, it’s upsetting. I’ve been out here for years and I love this landscape," Stevens said.
When the tree fell onto the bridge, it stranded some hikers who had already crossed to the other side. Search and Rescue teams helped them find another way back. Stevens says the loss of the bridge is concerning.
"I think about the logistics of a further hike if someone were to be injured on that side of the river and I also think about the hazard right now of people not heeding the advice of the forest service in staying off the bridge," he said.
A spokesperson for the U. S. Forest Service said rebuilding the bridge is a high priority. This isn't the first time they've had to do it. A flood destroyed the bridge in 2017.
"It’s tragic to see the bridge in this shape, also I feel for my friends in the Forest Service who are going to have to put in the effort to replace this bridge," Stevens said.
But that effort is worth it to those who love the Red River Gorge.