‘Kissing Bridge’ remains iconic romance spot

Bridge at Fort Johnston with Cherry Hall in background. Archived photo, 1985. Gary Hairlson.


Tucked behind Van Meter Hall and Garrett Conference Center, there is a small wooden bridge. 

Despite its plain façade, the Old Fort Bridge—more commonly known as the Kissing Bridge—has cultivated its own personality during its existence. 

Legend says if two students visit the bridge on their first date and have their first kiss there, they’ll be bonded to each other forever, effectively making it the campus Cupid. 

For some couples, the bridge’s mythology holds true. 

President Gary Ransdell listed the bridge as a key place in his relationship with wife Julie. The couple married in December 1972, during their senior year at WKU and have been together for the 42 years since. 

“There are a lot of places across campus that are special to us, because we didn’t have any money,” Ransdell said. “Dates, for us, were walking around campus.” 

Miles Ormon proposed to his wife, Megan, on the bridge.

Ormon, a former WKU baseball player who now works as events and athletic coordinator for Campus & Community Events, said the bridge seemed like the perfect place to pop the question. 

“It’s just kind of the aura — the name of it,” he said. “We made a day out of it … She knew something was up, and I said ‘let’s go to the Kissing Bridge.’”

Miles Ormon proposed on Megan’s birthday, Sept. 3, and the couple married in May 2013 at the Chandler Memorial Chapel.

Both Miles and Megan went to WKU and became strongly involved in the community after graduation. 

Even though he transferred to the university, Miles Ormon said he quickly became familiar with the various tales of the Hill. 

“When I transferred here, you meet a whole batch of new people and you hear all the different stories,” he said. “But when I was in school, I never dreamed I was going to take a girl there, I was going to kiss here and I was going to marry her. You don’t really think of that until the time comes, and you say ‘that would be so cool.’”

For couples like Alyson and Philip Smith, the bridge was an integral part of the relationship from the beginning. 

“He took me up there when we were predating and I told him about the legend,” Alyson Smith said. 

Philip, who graduated from University of Louisville in May 2013, proposed to Alyson, a May 2013 WKU graduate, on Sept. 12, 2012 exactly where he’d asked for the relationship to begin. Philip faked an excuse to return a friend’s wallet at the top of the hill before taking Alyson out to dinner. 

As the couple walked toward the bridge to “meet a friend,” Alyson Smith said she noticed flowers laying where the two connected. 

“When he asked me to be his girlfriend on Feb. 18, 2011 in that exact spot, that’s kind of when I knew I’d marry him,” she said. “That’s what made the whole proposal so cool.”

Ransdell said he learned the legend of the bridge shortly after arriving to WKU. 

“I can remember my freshman year living in Barnes Campbell Hall learning about places like (the Kissing Bridge),” Ransdell said. “That’s why I hope when students come here today they learn about these places and make them their own.”

Taking ownership of spots around campus is extremely important to continuing the Kissing Bridge mystery, Ransdell noted. 

“The symbolism of places like that, I hope, is important to other students and alumni,” he said. “That’s what makes universities so special. It’s things like that that are woven into people’s lives that have meaning and tradition and richness.” 

No one questions the passion and the loyalty and the history and the emotions that started at places like the Kissing Bridge and other places across campus. 

Director of Campus & Community Events, Rachel Goodman said the Kissing Bridge is a hotspot for proposals and the occasional wedding. 

“I’ve been here for 14 years, and I bet we’ve had only three weddings on the bridge,” she said. “I think honestly it’s probably a very popular proposal spot. I guess the story goes that if you kiss on that bridge, that’s going to be who you marry.” 

Ironically, this epicenter of campus romance started out as a place of war. 

The Old Fort Bridge was initially erected to allow students to cross a Civil War embankment used by both Union and Confederate soldiers. Landmarks behind Gordon Wilson Hall and Van Meter note when the area changed from Southern to Northern hands. 

Despite that history, the Old Fort Bridge somehow morphed into a place couples still visit regularly. 

“We go back every year on her birthday,” Ormon said. “We drive up, we walk up to the bridge, we kiss and we go back and finish up the rest of the day. But ,we try to make it back every year. It’s not like we’ve been doing it for 50 years, but we’re going to try to hold true to that.”

And for as long as it exists, the Kissing Bridge will more than likely continue playing matchmaker.