High bridge sees its dawn over the Sunset Route
On this day in 1891, construction began on the Pecos High Bridge in Val Verde County. Completed in early 1892, this structure was actually the second bridge built to serve trains traveling on the Southern Pacific's Sunset Route, and the new crossing greatly shortened the route of the rail line. Located at a deep gorge of the Pecos River, the mammoth structure was an engineering marvel supported by twenty-four towers and spanning a total length of 2,180 feet. Rising 321 feet above the river, the bridge was the highest railroad bridge in North America and third highest in the world. Judge Roy Bean of nearby Langtry served as coroner for workers killed during its construction. The Pecos High Bridge towered as a landmark for many years until a new bridge, located 440 feet downstream, opened in 1944.