A piece of the historic Newport Cliff Walk collapsed on Thursday, leaving a portion of the 3.5-mile oceanside walk closed off for the foreseeable future, with no clear answer on what actually happened.

The Newport Cliff Walk snakes along the eastern shore of the city by the sea and offers a stunning perspective of the natural beauty that Newport has to offer. It has been a National Recreation Trail since 1975, so the thought of losing this landmark to a landslide of falling rocks would be heartbreaking to the Ocean State.

Luckily, there is a silver lining amidst this unfortunate event.

Tom Shevlin, communications officer for the City of Newport, shared details of the incident.

“We got a call from a pedestrian who was walking her dog in the vicinity of the Forty Steps (a popular gathering spot along the walk). She heard a sound, then saw a puff of smoke,” he said.

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The woman went toward the smoke to investigate and saw about a 20-foot section of the sidewalk had collapsed into the water below. Police and fire crews responded to the scene and immediately closed off the area between Narragansett and Webster avenues.

“There are no reports of damage to private property and there were no injuries,” said Shevlin.

Newport Fire Chief Frank Peluso added, “No one was on (that portion) of the walk at the time.”

At this time, it is unclear what caused the collapse, and the city will be working over the next few weeks to find a cause.

While that portion of the walk will be closed until further notice, Shevlin was happy to share that the rest of the trail is still open to the public.

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