Heritage

Digital Heritage Moment: Virginia’s Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, VA. Sketch by Thomas H. Williamson

The Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, VA. Sketch by Thomas H. Williamson

The Natural Bridge arches 90 feet across a gorge that is 215 feet deep in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. This spectacular natural feature was formed more than 100 million years ago, probably when a limestone cavern collapsed, leaving only the remains of its roof. It was surveyed by George Washington (who carved his initials on it) and purchased by Thomas Jefferson.

After Jefferson’s heirs sold it, it became a tourist attraction whose popularity in the 19th century rivaled that of Niagara Falls. Visitors can also take a tour through its nearby caverns that were discovered just before the turn of the 20th century. The Natural Bridge and its caverns offer a dramatic example of the power of water in carving out limestone over the ages.

Digital Heritage Moments are produced at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. To learn more, visit DigitalHeritage.org. You may also hear Digital Heritage Moments each weekday on radio stations WKSF-FM, WWCU-FM, WMXFAM, WPEK-AM and WWNC-AM.

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