Monday, July 23, 2012

The Natural Bridge

Often cited as having a place among the great wonders of the natural world, particularly by early visitors to the US, Virginia's Natural Bridge is an enormous natural limestone arch. Carved by Cedar Creek over thousands of years, the arch was created when an ancient cavern collapsed leaving only the bridge. It is the largest natural land bridge on the North American continent.

The 215-foot-long bridge was sacred to the Monocan, native American tribe, and was revered by the American colonists.

The site was surveyed in 1750 by a young George Washington, who allegedly carved his initials into the rock. Thomas Jefferson called Natural Bridge "the most sublime of nature's works" when he purchased 157 acres of land, including the bridge, from King George III of England in 1774.

William Cullen Bryant said that Natural Bridge, along with Niagara Falls, were the two most notable features of North America. The Natural Bridge is also alluded to in Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Perhaps the oddest parts of this natural wonder is "The Drama of Creation," a Biblically-themed evening light show that has been projected onto the bridge every night since 1920. The show is the longest continuously running light show in the US.

The Natural Bridge Caverns, the deepest caves on the east coast are less than half a mile away from the Natural Bridge. Other attractions in the area include a wax museum and a living history Monocan Indian Village.