Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway/ Natural Bridge

In this pic we are on the Blue Ridge Parkway looking across the Great Valley to the Appalachian Mts in the distance.  It would have been really great, but we were in 99* heat.  Not sure if this haze is normal or what.  In California they would be calling this smog.  

The Great Valley extends through the Appalachians from New York to Alabama.  

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a road that links the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Caroline and Tennessee.  During the Great Depression they put skilled laborers and non laborers to work engineering the parkway, 

I have placed another National Park Stamp in my Passport book for the National Parks.  

Our destination today was Natural Bridge.  We did not think it through because of power outages all over the region and when we got there with tickets in hand all that was open was the bridge.  So they gave us a year to use our tickets and let us see the bridge today,  I have some pics and information for you so enjoy,

Some interesting facts about Natural Bridge, Virginia.

The Natural Bridge of Virginia is one of the oldest tourist destinations in the United States. 

Popular with Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries, Natural Bridge and Niagara Falls were the two wonders of the new world. The Bridge has been included in several "Seven Natural Wonders of the World" lists, mostly in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Vacationing guests from all over the world took day trips from Natural Bridge on horseback or horse drawn carriages to explore the countryside. The braver guests could be lowered over the edge from the top of the bridge in a hexagonal steel cage while a violinist played. Very early bungee jumping I guess. LOL

It has been designated a National Historic Landmark, a Virginia Historic Landmark, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

History of the Natural Bridge

A very long time ago:
Natural Bridge was formed when a cavern collapsed and left the span that stands today.

A long time ago:
Monacan Indian legend has it that Natural Bridge appeared just as they needed to escape from an advancing enemy.

In 1750, legend holds that young George Washington surveyed the Natural Bridge site for Lord Fairfax. Landmarks remain of the work and on the wall of the bridge where he carved his initials. I did take a pic of the initials, but they did not turn out,  So you must come look for your self.  The docent told us historians are not convinced that this is true because written records to not mention it until people staredt wanting to sell the place and no one wanted it.  So if Washington slept here they might be able to get rid of it.

Late 1700s:

In 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land including the Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings. It has remained privately owned since. Jefferson also built a two room log cabin, with one room was reserved for guests.

The Bridge served as a shot tower during the Revolutionary War. Bullets for American firearms were manufactured by dropping molten lead 245 feet from the top of the Bridge into Cedar Creek's cold water below.

Early 1800s:
During the War of 1812, ammunition was made beyond the Bridge, along the trail at Saltpeter Cave and Lost River.

In 1833, Jefferson's heirs sold the site and the new owner erected the Forest Inn to accommodate the increasing number of people.

Mid 1800s:

In the 1850s Herman Melville references the Natural Bridge when describing the whale in Moby Dick: "But soon the fore part of him slowly rose from the water; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch, like Virginia's Natural Bridge..."

From 1861-1865, Civil War soldiers made ammunition in Saltpeter Cave and Lost River locations along the trail, just beyond the Bridge.

Late 1800s:
During the 1880s Natural Bridge attained resort status under the ownership of Colonel Henry Parsons.

Early 1900s to now:

In 1927, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge inaugurates the night light presentation, The Drama of Creation.

In 1998:
Designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Department of the Interior.

This is pic of the bridge as you come up on it.  Notice the bench seats on the side.  There are another set on the other side of the bridge.  At night they do a light show and this is the seating for that show.  We did not get to see this because the power is still out here.
It is a beautiful rock formation in a very pretty place.  There is a river flowing through it.  It is the river that formed it, but it is not as raging as back in the day.  They had other things to see on the trail, but it was just way to hot out to take a long walk in the mountains  I repeat it was 99!!

 You can see at the top of the bridge fencing.  This is fencing along US highway 11.  Coming into Natural Bridge we travel over it and didn't even know it. 
A pic from the other side.
Another camouflage pic.  This time there is a pigeon on the ledge.  The bird is almost in the middle of the pic,

A shot looking up
dragonfly along the river
This is US 11 going across Natural Bridge.  You can see the fencing I took a pic of when I was down below.  With the fencing you can not see anything below.  Not sure if this is by design or for safety reasons. 
This is the reason for no power in much of the region still and will not be any for another 4/5 days.  The storm that came through here had winds of up to 85/95 mph.  The storm snapped off trees and downed power lines all over.  Some of these downed trees are in remote parts of the region and very hard to get to.  And they say the storm was so big and caused so much damage that states they would normally ask help from are very busy with their own storm problems.  So now they have 750 out of state (way far away) boots on the ground to help get the job done.
Another downed tree.   We saw so many.  We even saw them working on a power pole that had been snapped off in town.  They were working on that one as we drove by.  The van driver at  Natural Bridge said he watched his big oak tree almost lay on the ground during the storm.  His neighbor had canoes stacked up on racks and he said they looked like missiles shooting across the field. 
This little guy with his spots ran across the road and into a farmyard.  I sure hope mom is around and not that he and she got lost in this big storm.  

We had a fun day, but I am tired of the heat.  I know we have wheels and could leave, but when we look and the weather map we really can not see any place within a days drive to go without the heat. 
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