Brighter future for an old natural wonder

Deborah Painter (USA) During the 1700s, when North American colonies were under British rule, a certain highly intelligent and educated man by the name of Thomas Jefferson heard of a remarkable natural arch in west central Virginia, to the southwest of his home in Charlottesville. He purchased hectares of land surrounding the stone arch from King George III for 20 shillings. Since he bought this land in the year 1774, it was a well-timed transaction. The King might not have dealt so amenably with Jefferson following his involvement in writing the Declaration of Independence. The future third President of the United States was immensely interested in both architecture and natural history, and showed his understanding of both in his description: “… the arch approaches the semi-elliptical form, but the larger axis of the ellipsis, which would be the cord of the arch, is many times longer than the transverse”. Cedar Creek runs beneath the Natural Bridge of Virginia, which, in the 1800s, was named one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World. The creek flows through a gorge. Native Americans of the Monacan tribe had for many thousands of years camped beneath Virginia’s Natural Bridge during hunting expeditions and made use of Cedar Creek’s water. They also found the bridge itself useful as a crossing. When the Commonwealth of Virginia divided its western frontier into counties, it named the county containing the natural wonder ‘Rockbridge County’. Early explorers of the 1700s were awestruck by how this towering dolostone and … Read More

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