In an average year, maybe several hundred people walk or bike the Cowboy Trail bridge over the Niobrara River near Valentine.
But in the past few days, 1.7 million people have flown over it — giving the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission its first viral video.
On its Facebook page Monday, the commission posted 80 seconds of aerial video showing the Cowboy Trail but focusing on the quarter-mile bridge 150 feet above the river.
The commission has been posting more videos, and getting results. A look at the big fish of Branched Oak Lake was viewed 6,300 times, and a tour of Fort Robinson State Park recorded 80,000 views.
“We were really happy with that,” said spokeswoman Cara Pesek. “But this is way beyond that.”
By midday Friday, the drone footage of the Cowboy Trail bridge had received 1.7 million views and was shared nearly 40,000 times.
The commission can’t completely explain it. “I think that bridge is so cool. I think you don’t expect that in Nebraska,” Pesek said. “It’s far enough away from Lincoln and Omaha that it is new to a lot of people.”
The commission didn’t shoot the video. Its digital media manager found footage taken by Long Face Media and Mike Anderson of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee, got permission and posted a shortened version, Pesek said.
As the hits rolled in, so did comments and questions — nearly 2,300 as of Friday. Viewers are interested. They’re asking the bridge’s length, how to get there, about the trail surface, whether camping is allowed.
If the video draws visitors, the bridge can accommodate them. The commission doesn’t track trail users, but administrator Kirk Nelson guessed about 500 people cross the bridge annually. “And many of those are repeat locals.”