The original steel cantilever Sunshine Skyway bridge was opened to traffic on September 6, 1954, one year and five months after Jacksonville's Mathews Bridge opened.
The worst bridge disaster in Florida history occurred when an errant ship struck a major support of the southbound lane during a storm. The main span toppled into Tampa Bay. 35 people lost their lives.
The 600-foot freighter collided with a bridge support column at 7:30 a.m., causing 1,200 feet of bridge to fall into the bay.