Red Bridge, Knysna

The Knysna River was originally forded in true frontier-style at the location now appropriately known as the Old Drift. Over the years a number of bridges have been built to span the Knysna River and Estuary.

Concrete Bridge

GPS Coordinates: -34.021439, 22.993862

The Concrete Bridge was built to replace the first, wooden bridge (of which nothing remains), but was washed away in great floods of 1916, less than a year after its completion in 1915. All that remains of the bridge are the abutments on either side of the river. The west bank abutment can be seen from the N2 as you are driving across the White Bridge.

Red Bridge

GPS Coordinates: -34.016537, 23.001254

For a few years the only way to cross the river was via various pontoons and ferries. The next bridge to be built was the Red Bridge: a gorgeous metal girder structure over the Knysna River about 2km upstream from the White Bridge. Now open to only foot and two-wheel traffic, it has been lovingly restored. The red Bridge is honoured by Red Bridge Brewing Company, Knysna’s tastiest craft beer! Rumour has it you are not a local if you have not jumped off the bridge into the river below.

“The Red Bridge. This bridge is the third bridge to span the Knysna River. It is situated further upstream on better founding conditions, as the previous bridge had been washed away in a flood in 1916. Designed by the PWD, this bridge is completely different in design to the earlier bridges with only two long 46m spans, so as to prevent a recurrence of pier damage by flood debris. Construction of the foundations started in 1918 with the steelwork for the two riveted deck trusses, made in England, arriving by ship in 1922. The completed bridge, with a 3m wide roadway, was opened on 1 May 1923. It was succeeded in 1955 by the wider concrete (White) bridge situated further downstream, but remained in use by local traffic until 1973. It was completely refurbished in 2014.”

Plaque on the brodge.

White Bridge

GPS Coordinates: -34.031399, 22.991451

The White Bridge is the bridge that carries the N2 over the river. The bridge itself is less than 200m across, however the bridge and causeway combined totals to about 850m. It was built to replace the Red Bridge in 1955.

Railway Bridge

The Railway Bridge is currently not in use as extensive damage to the line has never been repaired. Well-meaning folk spark interest in the resurrection of the line, primarily so that the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe can once again operate between Knysna and George, however nothing ever comes of it and I fear the line is now past repair. For now, it is the domain of various fishermen and vagrants.

You can walk, run and MTB across the bridge, and it offers some of the best views through the Knysna Heads, of the estuary and of the Knysna valley.

Read more here: https://www.knysnamuseums.co.za/pages/crossing-the-knysna-river-murray-douglas/

By David

Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.

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