Built in 1965, it was called the “Bridge to Nowhere,” as there was not enough funding to continue the road from the other side. At 650 feet above the Rio Grande and 1200 feet across, it is the second highest suspension bridge in the United States.
The Rio Grande Gorge at this location is 1200 feet wide and 600 feet deep. Although the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is often referred to as a steel arch bridge because of the appearance of its main span, it is more properly described as a continuous steel deck truss. This bridge has truss spans of 300, 600 and 300 feet and a 36-foot steel I-beam approach span at each end. It has a total length of 1272 feet and a 28-foot roadway. It was fabricated by the American Bridge Company and erected by J. H. Ryan and Son. The total cost of the bridge was $2,153,000. A high line spanning the gorge was used to position the steel box beam members during its construction.
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge was designed by the New Mexico State Highway Department Bridge Design Section and it won first place for the most beautiful span in 1966 in competition sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction.
According to the state Office of the Medical Investigator, an average of 2.5 people die by suicide after jumping off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge each year, a number that likely is underestimated. Some bodies are never found. Some 50 people have died this way since regular records started being kept in 1991.