Monday, April 16, 2012

April 14, 2012. The Hawthornes Visit Natural Bridge. Part 2 Of 2.

Neither Mr. Hawthorne nor I
 had been to Natural Bridge since elementary school,
and we were looking forward to seeing it again.

We walked the 137 steps down to the Cedar Creek gorge,
surrounded by the lush sounds of cascading water,
 the dappled sunlight filtering through the trees and leaves,
and the wildflowers and wildlife.

A Miracle In Stone  ...  Old As The Dawn

Natural Bridge has enormous proportions.  Man first discovered Natural Bridge a few hundred years ago.  But Nature, through millions of years, had worked with patient labor and magnificent skill to construct this monument which would stand for all time.
The arch is composed of solid grey limestone.  It is 215 feet high (55 feet higher than Niagara Falls) 40 feet thick, 100 feet wide and spans 90 feet between the massive walls.  The span contains 450,000 cubic feet of rock.  If man had scales to weight it, the mass would balance about 72,000,000 pounds, or 36,000 tons. The rocks that compose the bridge are early Ordovician, about 500 million years old.  The internal forms of these rocks, that fold and break in the layers, were imposed on them during the Appalachian Mountain building process toward the end of the Paleozoic Era, more than 200 million years ago.  At its highest point, the bridge is approximately 1160 feet above sea level.

This was Nature's working material.  Her tool, Cedar Creek.  A simple mountain stream flowing towards the sea.  With these, Nature achieved her miracle.  She painted her masterpiece with dull red and ochre, soft shades of yellow and cream, delicate tracings of blueish-grey.

Before white men came to our shores, the Monacan Indians considered this ancient wonder a sacred site, and called it "The Bridge of God."

According to legend, in 1750, the youthful George Washington, engaged by Lord Fairfax, proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia, surveyed the surrounding acreage of Natural Bridge.  During his visit, he scaled some 23 feet up the left wall of the bridge, and carved his initials "G.W.", which may still be seen today.

On July 5, 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased Natural Bridge and 157 surrounding acres from King George III of England for the "sum of twenty shillings of good and lawful money," (about $2.40).  Jefferson visited the bridge often, surveyed the area, and even drew a map in his own hand.  In 1803, two years after becoming the President of the United States, he constructed a two room cabin on the grounds.

From the literary classic, Moby Dick, to such paintings as The Peaceable Kingdom, Natural Bridge has been used to portray the ultimate natural wonder.  Edward Hicks, one of America's foremost folk artists, used the Natural bridge in his oil painting of about 1825-30.  Amongst many famous artists to paint or sketch an image of the bridge was Frederick Edwin Church of the Hudson River School, who came to paint the bridge in 1852 followed in 1860 by David Johnson, a second generation Hudson River School artist.

The Lee Highway, US Route 11, crosses over the Natural Bridge, even today.

Enjoy the pics.

"The most sublime of Nature's works."
Thomas Jefferson
Oh my.

This fellow was hanging here when we went in.

When we came back out,
he was still hanging.

Swinging back and forth.
Not to worry.
This was the wax museum.


Lea said...

Beautiful. Hope you found some better food today ; )

Marilyn said...

The Natural Bridge is definitely on my bucket list. Thank you for the beautiful pictures.

Marilyn said...

And that guy hanging on the chain reminds me of the poor farmer who has been stuck hanging out of the window of the barn near our house at least these past fourteen years (and probably longer). But I do crack a smile every time I see him hanging there, so mission accomplished.