World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Natural Bridge (Virginia)

Article Id: WHEBN0001360326
Reproduction Date:

Title: Natural Bridge (Virginia)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Rockbridge County, Virginia, U.S. Route 11, Natural arch, WikiProject National Register of Historic Places/Cleanup listing, Cedar Creek (James River)
Collection: Bridges on the National Register of Historic Places in Virginia, Caves of Virginia, James River (Virginia), Landforms of Rockbridge County, Virginia, National Historic Landmarks in Virginia, National Register of Historic Places in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Natural Arches of Virginia, Religious Places of the Indigenous Peoples of North America, U.S. Route 11, Virginia Historic Landmarks, Visitor Attractions in Rockbridge County, Virginia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Natural Bridge (Virginia)

Natural Bridge
The bridge, with a person below to indicate the size. Taken in 2005.
Natural Bridge (Virginia) is located in Virginia
Nearest city Natural Bridge, Virginia
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 97001401[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 18, 1997
Designated NHL August 6, 1998[2]

Natural Bridge in natural arch 215 ft (65.532 m) high with a span of 90 ft (27.432 m). It consists of horizontal limestone strata, and is the remains of the roof of a cave or tunnel through which the creek once flowed. Natural Bridge has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.


  • History 1
  • Present 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Natural Bridge by Frederic Edwin Church, 1852

The Natural Bridge was a sacred site of the Native American Monacan tribe, who believed it to be the site of a major victory over pursuing Powhatans centuries before the arrival of whites in Virginia.[3]

In March of 1742, a frontiersman named John Howard — along with his son and others — was commissioned by Governor Gooch to explore the southwest of Virginia as far as the Mississippi River. The party followed Cedar Creek through the Natural Bridge, then floated in buffalo-skin boats down the New, Coal, Kanawha, and Ohio Rivers to the Mississippi.[4]

Some believe that [6]

John Marshall, James Monroe, Henry Clay, Sam Houston, and Martin Van Buren.[6]

Natural Bridge, Virginia, oil on canvas, David Johnson, 1860. Reynolda House

Natural Bridge was one of the tourist attractions of the new world that Europeans visited during the 18th and 19th centuries. Vacationing guests from all over the world took day trips from Natural Bridge on horseback or horse-drawn carriages to explore the countryside. In 1833, a new owner erected the Forest Inn to accommodate the increasing number of people.

The bridge had considerable notoriety during the 19th century. Herman Melville alluded to the bridge in describing Moby-Dick: "But soon the fore part of him slowly rose from the water; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch, like Virginia's Natural Bridge..." William Cullen Bryant, another American literary figure, said that Natural Bridge and Niagara Falls were the two most remarkable features of North America. During the 1880s Natural Bridge was a resort owned by Colonel Henry Parsons, who also owned the nearby Rockbridge Inn.[7]

In 1927 a nocturnal lighting display of the arch and gorge was designed by Samuel Hibben and Phinehas V. Stephens, illuminating engineers with the Westinghouse Company.[8] The display was formally switched on by President Calvin Coolidge in a 1927 inaugural ceremony. The original display has since been replaced with a sound and light show depicting the seven days of the Creation as described in Genesis.

On 12 May 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe officially accepted the deed to Natural Bridge, transferring its ownership to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Plans are currently in place to have the site designated as a state park within the coming years.[9]


Today, visitors must purchase tickets to view the bridge from below. U.S. Route 11 (Lee Highway) runs on top of the Bridge, but protective fences make it difficult to see anything besides the roadway.

The trail under the bridge also provides access to other attractions such as Lace Falls, the "Lost River" where water was transported through pipes to the kettles used to extract nitrate, and the Saltpeter Cave where gunpowder and ammunition were made for the War of 1812.

Natural Bridge is also the name of the town in which the bridge is located.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ "Natural Bridge". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  3. ^ Carrie Hunter Willis and Etta Belle Walker, 1937, Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia, p. 84-86.
  4. ^ Brown, Jr., Stuart E. (1965), Virginia Baron: The Story of Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax, Berryville, Virginia: Chesapeake Book Company, pp 98-99.
  5. ^ Carrie Hunter Willis and Etta Belle Walker, 1937, Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia, p. 86.
  6. ^ a b Carrie Hunter Willis and Etta Belle Walker, 1937, Legends of the Skyline Drive and the Great Valley of Virginia, p. 87.
  7. ^ Dianne and Joseph Pierce (July 1994). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Rockbridge Inn" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 
  8. ^ Hibben, Samuel G. and Stephens, Phinehas V. The illumination of the Natural Bridge of Virginia, Transactions of the Illuminating Engineering Society, vol. 22, 1927, 1158-1164.
  9. ^

External links

  • Natural Bridge official website
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.