Phil G McDonald Bridge

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Phil G McDonald Bridge
Glade Creek Bridge
Beckley, West Virginia, United States
700 feet high / 213 meters high
784 foot span / 239 meter span


Of North America’s 10 highest bridges, the Phil G McDonald or Glade Creek bridge is probably the least known. Located several miles east of Beckley, West Virginia, U.S.A., this huge deck truss has one of the tallest piers ever built on an American bridge, rising 341 feet (104 mtrs) from the foundation to the underside of the truss. The shorter pier measures 293 feet (89 mtrs) tall.

Coincidentally, Glade Creek is a near twin of California’s Auburn-Foresthill bridge. From an engineering standpoint, the only major difference between the two is the West Virginia span is a continuous truss instead of a cantilever. The California span is only about 10 percent bigger in size and height. Much of Glade Creek’s status as a “hidden” high bridge is probably due to its being in the shadow of the world famous New River Gorge bridge located just 20 miles (32 km) to the north. Even so, at 700 feet (213 mtrs), Glade Creek is exactly 80 percent as high as the New River span. And although it does not have the same prestige as “The World’s Highest Arch Bridge”, Glade Creek still holds a record of its own as the “World’s Highest Truss Bridge”.

The thick foliage surrounding the structure make it a difficult bridge to photograph. A graded dirt road on the west side of the bridge leads down into the ravine where you can hike along the creek and look up at the deck, 70 stories above.


Phil G McDonald Bridge Elevation


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


The Glade Creek bridge pier ranks among the tallest in North America. The top 6 tallest bridge piers in the United States include Auburn-Foresthill Bridge at 403 feet, Archie Stevenot Bridge at approximately 400 feet, Pit River Bridge at 358 feet, Pine Valley Bridge at approximately 340 feet and Hansen Bridge at 337 feet. Among all bridges in North America, Mexico has at least 5 bridges with taller piers led by the monstrous 732 foot tall pier of the San Marcos Bridge.


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Auburn-Foresthill and Phil G McDonald Bridge size comparison

Auburn-Foresthill is the world's highest cantilever bridge at 730 feet (223 mtrs) while Phil G McDonald is the world's highest truss bridge at 700 feet (213 mtrs).


New River Gorge and Phil G McDonald Bridge size comparison


Glade Creek satellite aerial.




Glade Creek Bridge location map.