Friday, August 14, 2009

The Natural Bridge!

Natural Bridge is a stone arch of lime stone which towers 215' above Cedar Creek which flows under the arch. The walls of the arch are 90' apart. The arch itself varies from 150' wide to only 50' wide. It is composed of an estimated 450,000 cubic feet of limestone weighing about 36,000 tons. The arch itself is the remnant of a cavern roof which is somewhat unsettling as US Route 11 utilizes the arch as a bridge across the chasm of Cedar Creek. Natural Bridge is higher than Niagara Falls by 55'.
The first known encounter with Natural Bridge was by the Monacan Indians. The Monacans regard it as a sacred site. Legend has it that the Monacans were fleeing a pursuing party of Shawnee
and Powhatan Indians when they came to the brink of the Cedar Creek chasm. They prayed to their gods for help and upon opening their eyes saw the rock span and a way of escape. The first record of white immigrants encountering the natural wonder is in 1742 in the diary of John Peter Sellings. George Washington surveyed it in 1750 for Lord Fairfax (Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron). He is reputed to have carved his initials into an upright, and the initials 'GW' are indeed there, but there is no historical authentication for this occurrence. Natural Bridge was purchased by Thomas Jefferson on July 5, 1774 as part of a 157 acre tract from King George III of England. He purchased it for a price of 20 shillings.

Seeing the Natural Bridge was just breath taking! Lots of history! We walked though the bridge and hiked down the Cedar Creek Trail. We saw an authentic Monacan village, the lost river (no one knows where the river starts) and the Lace Falls. During the Civil War, bird and bat droppings were used to make gun power at the Saltpeter Cave pictured above. Also pictured above is an otter and a blue heron. The picture with the white square, is George Washington's initials. We had a great day visiting The Natural Bridge, it was a sunny and warm. Jodie enjoyed the 4 mile hike on the Cedar Creek Trail. The pictures of the Natural Bridge really don't give you the perspective of the size, it is enormous!

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