Come along for the ride!
1. ALASKA’S DO-IT-YOURSELF TRAM
In the winter, hikers at Alaska’s Chugach National Forest have to walk across Glacier Creek. But when the water is high in the summer, a hand tram dangling above is a safer alternative. Hikers climb into the cable-suspended box and pull ropes to get across.
2. LONDON’S ROLLING BRIDGE
England is stuffed with a smorgasbord of moveable bridges, from castle drawbridges to Tower Bridge’s bascules—but London’s Rolling Bridge takes the cake. Sitting over a small inlet at the Grand Union Canal near Paddington station, the footbridge curls into a ball like a caterpillar. Whenever a boat needs to get out, hydraulics lift and squeeze the bridge—which is made of eight hinged triangles—into a circle.
3. GERMANY’S WATERY ROAD
Bridges aren’t just for cars and pedestrians— boats need the occasional lift, too. At 3,011 feet long, the Magdeburg Water Bridge is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world. It was a long time coming: Planning began in 1905, but two world wars and the Cold War halted progress. Today, it gives canal ships easy passage between Rhineland and Berlin.
4. SOUTH AFRICA’S SPINNING CABLE CAR
Until 1929, hiking was the only way up Cape Town’s 3,500-foot Table Mountain. The accident-free cableway has been updated three times since. Rotair cars introduced in 1997 feature rotating floors, giving passengers a panoramic view—and maybe a minor heart attack—on the way up and down.
5. SCOTLAND’S NAUTICAL FERRIS WHEEL
For decades, boats had to use 11 locks to navigate the 115-foot drop between the Union Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal. It took all day. In 1994, engineers started dreaming up schemes to make it faster, from overhead monorails to giant seesaws. Ultimately, they chose this two-armed propeller, the Falkirk Wheel, which lifts one boat as it lowers the other.
6. INDIA’S AU NATUREL BRIDGES
Most infrastructure grows weaker with time, but not here. The root bridges in this Indian town were built by Meghalaya’s War-Khasi tribe centuries ago, guiding rubber tree roots across rivers and letting time and rain finish the job. Some are over 100 feet long and can hold up to 50 people at a time.