About & Facts:
One of the 7 wonders of the world is located in Natural Bridge, VA. It is a natural made arch that was formed by water erosion. The arch is made of all limestone. It’s 100 feet wide and approximately 215 feet deep. The natural bridge is so massive that it has not only served as a wildlife trail and corridor, an Amer-Indian trail known as the great path, a horse and wagon road for the first farmers and settlers known as the “Great Path”, but also it carried and still carries the main north-south highway through the Shenandoah Valley…the sound and sight of the cars can’t be seen nor heard by the people below, only the water, nature, and wildlife. Thomas Jefferson owned the property at one time, and on the inside of the bridge on the opposite side of the walk way, George Washington’s initials can still be seen.
How It Was Formed:
Much of the bedrock in this part of VA is made up of thick deposits of carbonate from a sea that existed over 500 million years ago. These ancient carbonate deposits consist of limestone, and dolomite…which like all limestone’s are easily dissolved by water. During the early-mid Mesozoic period, the James River and its tributaries formed and started flowing east across the Blue Ridge Mountains and on to the Chesapeake. It was this geologic force that over millions of years formed the Cedar Creek Canyon and Natural Bridge. It is speculated that at one time the creek was some 200 feet higher up before it began to etch its way through the parallel strata of rock and formed an underground stream. As the surface water fell even deeper into its newly formed underground stream bed, a waterfall continued to cut back up stream creating a canyon. Eventually, the roof of limestone above the downstream underground cavern collapsed, creating a long narrow canyon. However, a thicker resistant section of the overburden of limestone remained intact. This is what created what we know as “Natural Bridge.” It’s basically the remains of an ancient collapsed cavern.
The 1800’s were a very biblical time so people believed that Earth was young, and that God must have made this himself. Thomas Jefferson thought that it must have been created by some unknown force of nature that would never be seen again, but by the early 1900’s, natural philosophers speculated that it must have been created by erosion. Nevertheless, the bridge is still outstanding in size, shape, and it’s history. It always seems to amaze its visitors leaving the in awe.