“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Saltpetre Cave

Saltpetre Cave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, May 2007
1. Saltpetre Cave Marker
Inscription.  During the War of 1812 and the Civil War (1861-1865), earth from this cave was mined for the bird and bat droppings that it contained, to make gunpowder. The earth was saturated with cold water and left in hoppers for a day or two. Once boiled in iron kettles, the mixture of earth and water, called “soak”, was filtered through wood ashes, producing a clear solution named nitrate of potassium. Boiled for a second time, the liquid was converted into crystallized salts or “saltpetre”, and used to make gunpowder. It took 18 bushels of soak and 10 bushels of elm ashes to make 100 pounds of good saltpetre.

“{Natural Bridge is} God’s greatest miracle in stone.”
John Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1801-1835)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWar of 1812War, US Civil.
Location. 37° 37.783′ N, 79° 32.917′ W. Marker is in Natural Bridge, Virginia, in Rockbridge County. Marker can be reached from South Lee
The Saltpetre Cave image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, May 2007
2. The Saltpetre Cave
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Highway (U.S. 11) near Wert Faulkner Highway (Virginia Route 130), on the left when traveling south. The marker is on the Cedar Creek Trail. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge VA 24578, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Monacan Village (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lost River (about 600 feet away); George Washington (approx. ¼ mile away); Natural Bridge (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Natural Bridge (approx. 0.3 miles away); Natural Bridge Patent (approx. 0.3 miles away); “Vires-Acquirit-Eundo” Ancient Arbor Vitae (approx. 0.3 miles away); A Miracle in Stone ... Old as the Dawn (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Natural Bridge.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 20, 2017. It was originally submitted on July 19, 2017, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 341 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 19, 2017, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Jan. 19, 2022