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Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Natural Bridge

 
 
Natural Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 14, 2000
1. Natural Bridge Marker
Inscription. Natural Bridge holds a unique place in American history as one of the natural wonders and first tourist attractions in the New World. Artists and illustrators popularized its image. This natural semielliptical arch is made of limestone carved by nature over millions of years and is approximately 200 feet high. The Monacan Indians held the site sacred and worshiped there. Thomas Jefferson obtained a land grant on 5 July 1774 to preserve it and to ensure the public could visit it. Natural Bridge was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1997 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998.
 
Erected 2000 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number A 72.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the George Washington Slept Here, and the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 37° 37.761′ N, 79° 32.581′ W. Marker is in Natural Bridge, Virginia, in Rockbridge County. Marker is on Rockbridge Road / Wert Faulkner Highway (Virginia Route 130), on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Visitors center is on US Route 11 just off Interstate 81 south of the junction with Interstate 64 west. Marker is in this post office area: Natural Bridge VA 24578, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
The Natural Bridge image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 14, 2000
2. The Natural Bridge
At least 5 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Natural Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); George Washington (approx. 0.2 miles away); Rockbridge County / Botetourt County (approx. 3.2 miles away); Audley Paul’s Fort (approx. 4.2 miles away); Falling Spring Presbyterian Church (approx. 5.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Natural Bridge.
 
More about this marker. This marker replaced a 1930s marker with the same number and title. The inscription on that marker read “Legend says that the Monocan Indians called it ‘The Bridge of God’ and worshipped it. Thomas Jefferson was the first American owner, patenting it with 157 acres on July 5, 1774, ‘for twenty shillings of good and lawful money.’ Millions of years old, Natural Bridge is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.”
 
Regarding Natural Bridge. 215 feet high, 40 feet thick, 100 feet wide with a 90 foot span between the walls. The arch contains 450,000 cubic feet of rock weighing 72,000,000 pounds or 36,000 tons and is estimated to be at least 500 million years old. At it's peak, the bridge is 1,160 feet above sea level. It crosses Cedar Creek.

Lee Highway, US Route 11, crosses over the chasm cut by the creek on Natural Bridge itself.
About this Natural Wonder image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 14, 2000
3. About this Natural Wonder

 
Also see . . .
1. Natural Bridge - Virginia's Natural Wonder. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. (Submitted on December 31, 2005, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.) 

2. The Natural Bridge Zoological Park. Home to the largest, most complete collection of animals and birds in the state of Virginia and breeding center for rare and endangered species. (Submitted on December 31, 2005, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.) 

3. Natural Bridge Caverns. The area has other natural beauties. (Submitted on August 22, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. A Miracle in Stone . . . Old as the Dawn
The Text on Photograph No. 3:

“ Natural Bridge has enormous proportions. Man first discovered Natural Bridge a few hundred years ago. But Nature, through millions of years, had worked with patient labor and magnificent skill to construct this monument which would stand for all time.

“ The arch is composed of solid grey limestone. It is 215 feet high (55 feet higher than Niagara Falls) 40 feet thick, 100 feet wide and spans 90 feet between massive walls. The span contains 450,000 cubic feet of rock. If man had scales to weigh it the mass would balance about 72,000,000 pounds, or 36,000 tons. The
Under Natural Bridge Looking Up image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 14, 2000
4. Under Natural Bridge Looking Up
US Route 11 runs along the top of the rock formation. This was the main road between Roanoke and Staunton before Interstate 81 was built. US 11 runs from the Canadian border at Champlain, New York, to New Orleans, Louisiana.
rocks that compose the bridge are early Ordovician, about 500 million years old. The internal forms of these rocks, that fold and break in layers, were imposed on them during the Appalachian Mountain building process toward the end of the Paleozoic Era, more than200 million years ago. At it's highest point, the bridge is approximately 1160 feet above sea level.

“ This was nature's working material. Her tool, Cedar Creek. A simple mountain stream flowing towards the sea. With these, Nature achieves her miracle. She painted her masterpiece with dull red and ochre, soft shades of yellow and cream, delicate tracings of blueish-grey.

“ Before white men came to our shores, the Monacan Indians considered this ancient wonder a sacred site, and called it ‘The Bridge of God.

“ According to legend, in 1750, the youthful George Washington, engaged by Lord Fairfax, proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia, surveyed the surrounding acreage of Natural Bridge. During his visit he scaled some 23 feet up the left wall of the bridge, and carved his initials ‘G.W.’, which may still be seen today.

“ On July 5, 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased Natural Bridge and 157 surrounding acres from King George III of England for the ‘sum’ of twenty shillings of good and lawful money (about $2.40). Jefferson visited the bridge often, surveyed
The Natural Bridge View from 1994 image. Click for full size.
By Michael Stroud, June 1994
5. The Natural Bridge View from 1994
the area and even drew a map in his own hand. In 1803 two years after becoming President of the United States, he constructed a two room cabin on the grounds.

“ From the literary classic, Moby Dick, to such paintings as The Peaceable Kingdom, Natural Bridge has been used to portray the ultimate natural wonder. Edward Hicks, one of America's foremost folk artists, used the Natural Bridge on his oil painting of about 1825-30. Amongst many famous artists to paint or sketch an image of the bridge was Frederick Edwin Church of the Hudson River School, who came to paint the bridge in 1852, followed in 1860 by David Johnson, a second generation Hudson River School artist.

“ The Lee Highway, U.S. Route 11, crosses over the Natural Bridge, even today. ”
    — Submitted January 14, 2006, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.

 
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsLandmarksNatural FeaturesRoads & Vehicles
 
Lace Waterfalls image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 14, 2000
6. Lace Waterfalls
The waterfalls are just beyond (west of) Natural Bridge, and reachable on the concrete path.
About Lace Waterfalls image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 14, 2000
7. About Lace Waterfalls
From high on the south end of the first ridge of the Alleghany Mountains 180 miles away, originate the headwaters of Cedar Creek. Before you, Cedar Creek plunges 50 feet to the creekbed. As the seasons change, the waterfall transforms from delicate veils to rushing plumes of white water. After flowing under Natural Bridge, it continues towards the southeast, and enters the James River about a mile away. "Oh, it is sublime—so strong yet so elegant—springing from earth and bathing it's head in heaven!" —Rev. Andrew Reed 1835
Photo of Route 11 as it goes over Natural Bridge. image. Click for full size.
By Edward John Cunningham, May 25, 2008
8. Photo of Route 11 as it goes over Natural Bridge.
The wooden panels on either side can also be seen from the bottom of the gorge and identify where the bridge exactly is.
Plaque at the Natural Bridge Visitor Center image. Click for full size.
July 19, 2010
9. Plaque at the Natural Bridge Visitor Center

Natural Bridge
has been registered as a
Virginia
Historic
Landmark
pursuant to the authority vested in the
Virginia Board of Historic Resources
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 12,630 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   5. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   6, 7. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   8. submitted on , by Edward John Cunningham of Derwood, Maryland.   9. submitted on . This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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