Natural Bridge of Virginia, Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge is an unusual rock formation that was formed when the roof of a large underground cavern collapsed, leaving only the section that forms today's Natural Bridge. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, actually owned it for a number of years. He had purchased it from the British government for 20 shillings when Virginia was still a colony.
The bridge is 200 feet high and 70 feet wide. It is so strong that a highway (US Route 11) actually runs across the top of it.
Although it is a bit of a tourist rap, Anna still enjoyed the wax museum at Natural Bridge. It features figures from US history, (particularly Virginia hstory), as well as figures from the Bible. The best part of it, in our opinion, was the part of the tour where they show you how the statues are made, including a number of works in process.
I had to get to the bottom of Cedar Creek Gorge to see the Natural Bridge. While almost all visitors took a shuttle, I decided to walk pathway down to Bridge (137 steps) passing by small waterfalls and crossing forest with beautiful fall trees. It took me some 20 min.
On the way I've seen a plaque (picture 2) put by Daughters of the American Revolution in 1926 commemorating two historical events:
1. George Washington, later the first US President, came to the site in 1750 as a young surveyoron behalf Lord Fairfax;
2. He purchased 157 acres (635,000 m²) of land including the Natural Bridge from King George III of England in 1774.
Natural Bridge is a geological formation in which Cedar Creek (a small tributary of the James River) has carved out a gorge of the limestone mountainous terrain, forming an arch 215 ft (66 m) high with a span of 90 ft (27 m). It looks impressive and is best seen from both sides and some distance.
But as for nature's wonders nothing compare (maybe except Cappadocia in Turkey) to numerous rocky arches and natural bridges in national parks of Utah (National Arches Park), at least in my opinion. Well, green trees and Ceder Creek on the bottom of the gorge make this place quite different than nude, strange, alone rocky formations in Utah.
I was very surprised when I learnt that the Lee Highway, U.S. Route 11 passed directly over my head, over the Natural Bridge. Well, when I looked carefully to the Natural Bridge I noticed road barriers.
Surely, as you know me, I wanted to drive or walk there, stop for a moment and take a few pictures from the above. But, I am sure there is ban on stopping there and, I don't know about Virginia but generally police tickets are extremely expensive in the USA (up to $1,000 in California!, compare with "only" $170 in Poland). So, I gave up. You may try. Be careful and good luck :-)
By the way, created in 1926 U.S. Route 11 is 1,645 miles (2,647 km) long and goes from Canadian border in New York state through 10 states to New Orleans, Louisiana. It would be great trip.
The trail to the Natural Bridge follows Cedar Creek. You get to Natural Bridge in about a qarter of a mile but the trail continues on along the creek for over a mile. You can get a walking guide at the beginning which points out natural things along the way. There is a nice waterfall near the beginning and then at the end is a larger one named Lace Falls. It's beautiful. Up the hill from the bridge is the Monacan Indian Village. The Monacan's were the indians here when John Smith first came to this country in 1608. There are replicas of their village with costumed indians showing how they lived. After that you come to Saltpeter Cave. The bird and bat droppings in there were used to make gunpowder and ammunition for the War of 1812. Then there is the Lost River. You can hear it down in the rocks but they don't know where it comes out. At the end of the trail, you must retrace your steps to the beginning.
This Natural Bridge is on Cedar Creek. It was carved out of the rock by the slow steady action of Cedar Creek. To see it you buy your ticket and then hike down the trail. A guide in costume showed us both the GW that George Washington carved on a survey rock by the creek and also up on the wall of the bridge when he did the survey in 1750. Actually it was Thomas Jefferson who built a 2 room log cabin for guests to make it a mountain retreat. Many guests came to see this natural attraction through the late 1800's and early 1900's. And it's still an attraction. There once was an indian path across the top of it and highway 11 still runs over the bridge. If you just want to see the bridge, it costs you $12 but if you get a combination ticket for 2 attractions, it is $18. We got a ticket for the bridge and also the caverns.
The Natural Bridge area is a tourist attraction. For a fee (I was there in 1989, so I do not know the exact price), you can walk down some stairs and walk along the creek