"Build the bridge across the Zambezi where the trains as they pass will catch the spray from the Falls."
- Cecil Rhodes, former governor of Rhodesia (today the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe), as quoted in The Great Zambezi Bridge by Chief Engineer G.A. Hobson (1922)
In 1904, workers for South African Railways had laid more than 1,600 miles of track on the "Cape to Cairo" route proposed by British administrator and financier Cecil Rhodes - who hoped one day to run tracks the length of the African continent, from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt. When the railway builders reached majestic Victoria Falls, they began construction in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Set in a remote section of the African rain forest, Victoria Falls stretches nearly a mile across the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, before dropping more than 400 feet into a deep gorge.
The Victoria Falls Bridge - built just downstream from the falls and supported by a parabolic arch spanning 500 feet - was fashioned from materials shipped on the rail line and transported across the gorge by cableway. Completed in just 14 months, the Victoria Falls Bridge opened Zambia's copper fields in particular, and central Africa in general, to modern-day transportation and commerce.