Looking for a unique way to see the Mississippi?? Look no further than the Big River Crossing!
At nearly a mile in length the Big River Crossing is the longest pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi and the longest active rail/bicycle/pedestrian in the country. Connecting Main Street to Main Street on each side of the Mississippi from Arkansas to Tennessee the bridge is one of the more unique places to visit in the country.
The history of the bridge dates back to 1916 when the original trail trestle opened allowing transit of goods across the Mississippi. Wagon ways followed in 1917 with one lane of traffic each way. This continued movement for several years until in 1928 a portion of the bridge was destroyed in a fire. As a result changes were made to the construction and by 1930 a concrete viaduct was built to protect auto traffic.
Congestion began to mount on the bridge due to its single lane traffic and as more and more people were using the bridge for personal and commercial transportation this became quite the issue. By 1949 they opened a new 4 lane bridge to relieve car congestion. This 4 lane was given the name the Memphis and Arkansas Bridge.
In the 1970s the first proposal was created to allow for hiking and biking on the bridge. This was an idea which sparked great appeal, yet didn’t seem feasible at the time. Over many years the idea continued to grow and develop until in 2014 construction began officially on the Big River Crossing. 2 years later the construction concluded and the bridge was made available for the public for the first time.
From the central point of the bridge you can stand high atop the Mississippi River in what would be the state dividing boundary. To the right you will find the towering Memphis pyramid, the scenic waterway trails and the skyline which has been a part of many historic moments in the country. On the left lays a more relaxed shoreline with only industry and open spaces to invite you to Arkansas.
Depending on what time of year you are visiting, the river changes vastly with both rising and lowering of its flow. The holidays welcome guests with bold twinkling lights and dynamic showings of colors glistening on the river below. During this time as well as periodically throughout other times over 100,000 LED lights are programmed to commemorate events with a light show which can be presented.
A visit to the bridge is free and typical hours for visitation are daily between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Parking is available on both sides of the bridge only a short distance to the entrance. If you are entering from the Memphis side you will want to make sure you are in the designated parking area instead of the private parking area for one of the local businesses. This area is marked and free of charge and also offers bike and scooter rentals.
The path itself is fully accessible however because of its length if there is still a doubt in your abilities to visit a virtual tour is available online. Best viewed in 1080p the tour will allow you to scroll throughout the pathway and catch a glimpse of the many view points along the bridge.