Bridge of Sighs: The Virginia Street Bridge in Downtown Reno, Nevada

One of the places I visited when I was out and about in Downtown Reno, Nevada last December 2018 was the Virginia Street Bridge. This article covers sections about the location of the Virginia Street Bridge, a history of bridges constructed on the site of the Virginia Street Bridge, the legend of the Bridge of Sighs, nearby attractions within walking distance, as well as other relevant information relating to the bridge.

Bridge of Sighs in North Virginia Street Reno Nevada
The Bridge of Sighs in downtown Reno, Navada

The Legend of the Bridge of Sighs 

The city of Reno in the state of Nevada is known as the "Divorce Capital of the World". This distinction and the circumstances that happen around it gave birth to the legend of the Bridge of Sighs. While officially known as the Virginia Street Bridge, urban legend has nicknamed it as the "Wedding Ring Bridge" or the "Bridge of Sighs". According to legend, newly divorced women threw their wedding rings into the Truckee River upon exiting from the Washoe County Courthouse.

Location of the Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs or the Virginia Street Bridge connects the southern bank and the northern bank of a stretch of the Truckee River in downtown Reno, Nevada. It runs along Virginia Street which in turn is a part of the Carson-Reno Highway. The bridge sits right where Reno traces its beginnings.

A History of the Bridge of Sighs

The current Virginia Street Bridge is not the original bridge built on the site. In fact, it is the fifth one constructed on the site. The original wooden bridge was installed by Charles W. Fuller in 1860. Known as Fuller's Crossing, the wooden bridge was destroyed by flood shortly after. The second bridge was a toll bridge completed and sold to Myron Lake in 1861. The second bridge was also destroyed by flood in 1867. In 1877, the construction of a tied-arch bridge made of iron was authorized by Washoe County. The iron bridge was moved in 1905. By that time, another bridge was designed by John B. Leonard of San Francisco, California. It was built by the Cotton Brothers and Company from Oakland, California. Due to concerns in structural safety and flooding, the current Bridge of Sighs was installed in 2016.

Attractions Around the Bridge of Sighs

Being centrally located in the heart of downtown Reno, the Bridge of Sighs is actually surrounded by tourist attractions and many places of interest. Here is a list of nearby attractions that may be of interest to tourists of different preferences:

  1. Washoe County Courthouse. Unofficially referred to as the Great Divide, the Washoe County Courthouse is an enduring landmark of Reno's reputation as the Divorce Capital of the World.
  2. Pioneer-Theatre Auditorium. Because of it's unique roof design, it is endearingly called the Golden Turtle. 
  3. The Reno Arch at North Virginia Street. An enduring symbol of the Biggest Little City in the World is the Reno Arch. The third installation of this arch is found on North Virginia Street.
  4. The Reno City Plaza. Marvel at the public art installations at the Reno City Plaza. Many of these artwork also graced the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada.
  5. Downtown Reno Post Office. The site of the Downtown Reno Post Office is also the site of the Carnegie Free Public Library.
  6. Powning Veteran's Memorial Park. Within Powning Veteran's Memorial Park, one can find a statue of Major General Jesse Lee Reno. The city of Reno was named after the Union general.
  7. The Reno Arch at Lake Street. An older version of the Reno Arch is installed along Lake Street. It is adjacent to the National Automobile Museum in Reno.
  8. The Masonic Temple. Lodge Number 13 is the first Freemasonry lodge in the Reno area.
  9. The Colonial Apartments. Now known as the Westlyn Apartments, it also used to be known as the Ross Apartments. The architecture used is of the Colonial Revival style.
  10. First United Methodist Church. This is one of the oldest remaining churches in Reno.
  11. Wingfield Park. A collection of five parks that include Wingfield Park East Island, Brick Park, Bennett Park, Wingfield Park West Island, and the Truckee River Whitewater Park.
  12. Trinity Episcopal Church. This church was built in the course of 25 years, spanning the Great Depression and World War II.
  13. Lake Mansion. The Lake Mansion used to stand where Reno traces its beginnings. It is a home associated with Myron Lake who was one of Reno's founding fathers.
  14. Truckee River. A stretch of the Truckee River runs through downtown Reno. The Truckee River is the largest river in western Nevada.
  15. St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral.

 Other Interesting Information About The Bridge of Sighs

In 1980, the Bridge of Sighs was included in the National Register of Historic Places. It was listed to be among the 11 most endangered historical places in Nevada by a group called Preserve Nevada in 2002 and 2006.


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About Thadz

Brothers Janus and Thadz document their travels around the United States and occasionally around the world.


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