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The Victoria Falls Bridge

Prior to the Victoria Falls bridge being built and completed in 1905 the Zambezi River had to be crossed either by a barge on a steel cable or a dugout canoe. The crossings were made from the Old Drift which is up the river from the falls because of the dangers faced from the strong currents as the water rushed over the falls.

Aerial view of Victoria Falls Bridge

Aerial view of the Victoria Falls Bridge with the Zambezi River raging below

The settlement of Victoria Falls started developing in 1900 this was because Cecil John Rhodes desired mineral rights north of the Zambezi.

Cecil Rhodes had a vision of a Cape to Cairo railway and hence he started plans for the first bridge across the mighty Zambezi. He was insistent that the bridge should be built in a place that the spray from the falls would fall on the passing trains. This is why the site for the bridge was chosen just a little below the Boiling Pot, at almost right angles to the falls.

Cape to Cairo

The canyon is spanned by this magnificent bridge 650ft long, with a main arch of 500ft span. The height from low water level to the rails on the bridge is 420ft. The famous view of the Bridge with the falls behind it is best seen from the view point just below Victoria Falls Hotel. Today you may well see tourist bungee jumping from the bridge.

The Victoria Falls Bridge was completed in April 1905, and although this was a brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes he died before the completion.

The main credit for designing the Victoria Falls Bridge must go to George Andrew Hobson of London based consultants Sir Douglas Fox and Partners (later to become Freeman, Fox and Partners), not as is often stated, Sir Ralph Freeman, the same engineer who would later design of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

At the time of the design of the Victoria Falls Bridge, Freeman was still only an assistant in the firm, although he was involved in calculating the preliminary stresses involved with the steelwork design and was credited by Hobson for his involvement.

The name given to the steam trains puffing along the tracks in Africa were “shongololos” this in the local language means centipede. This was apt given their unusual appearance to anything witnessed by the local people before.

The Victoria Falls Bridge spanning across the gorge

The bridge seen from downstream

The railway link between Zimbabwe and Zambia is used by a few freight trains but there are no regular rail passenger services over the bridge today.

There is a great website which is hosted by Geoff Cook who used to operate luxury train trips from Victoria Falls. He now lives in the UK and takes people on steam train tours throughout the world. If you are interested in this kind of thing have a look at his site it's brilliant. Geoff's Train Tours and Journeys

If you are visiting Victoria Falls we would highly recommend doing the Historical Victoria falls Bridge Tour... Click Here for info. The tour gives a wonderful insight in to the fascinating history of this Bridge.

The Victoria Falls Bridge at the time it was built was the highest railway bridge in the world and is the second most visited landmark in Victoria Falls.

To read more about the construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge (Click here) and please watch the video below which gives a brief insight into the bridge's history.


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