By Ernst H. Kastning PhD
6.5 x 9.25
Natural Bridge, located in the historic Shenandoah Valley, is one of the most recognized and visited geologic landmarks in the country. The massive 90-foot-wide arch spans Cedar Creek, which runs 200 feet below. Legend says that George Washington, as a young land surveyor, carved his initials on its wall. In 1774, King George III granted ownership to Thomas Jefferson. Natural Bridge was often regarded as the "Eighth Natural Wonder of the World" during the 19th and 20th centuries. The site became a popular venue for events, ranging from conventions to the annual Easter Sunrise Service. Hotels, inns, and cottages were built to accommodate travelers, and on-site attractions—including a show cave, a wax museum, and a Monacan Indian village—broadened visitor appeal. Natural Bridge remained privately owned until 2014, when the title was transferred, allowing it to become a state park; the bridge will now truly belong to the people, a concept that would have made Jefferson proud.