Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge was dedicated 56 years ago on September 2, 1952 by then-Governor William B. Umstead (pictured above at the ceremony at center, with his daughter, WBT Radio announcer Grady Cole on the left, and Hugh Morton on the right).
The bridge was one of several projects Morton took on during the early years of his oversight of Grandfather, designed to turn it into (according to the slogan he coined) “Carolina’s TOP scenic attraction.”
An Oct. 1, 1978 article about Morton from the Greensboro Daily News recounts the following:
The swinging bridge was one of two options when Morton decided to get visitors from the gift shop-museum parking lot to the rocky overlook. “We had to have some way to get them across, and we could either have a stationary bridge or a swinging bridge,” he said. “We decided the swinging bridge would be more fun, and would make a good conversation piece.” Some 30 percent of women visitors, and a smaller percentage of males, however, think it best not to cross the bridge.
Crossing the bridge is one thing (speaking as a “woman visitor” who has done it, in 95-mph winds, even!); building it is entirely another, as you can see in the picture below. This is NOT a job I would have taken on.
The Mile High Swinging Bridge proved not just a promotional boon for Morton, but a photographic one as well. He took many beautiful images of the bridge over the years—enveloped in mist, framed by vivid fall leaves or blooming rhododendrons, encased in rime ice. I find the (cropped) image below particularly “striking.”