Natural Bridge was first discovered by the Monacan Indians who deemed it, “Bridge of God.” In 1750, George Washington, engaged by Lord Fairfax, surveyed the surrounding acreage of Natural Bridge. During that visit he scaled up the left wall of the bridge about 23 feet and carved his initials, “G.W.””, which are still visible today. A few years later, Thomas Jefferson set out on horseback on a series of bridal paths from Paxson’s Tavern (in what is the town of Glasgow today) and discovered the bridge. In 1774, Jefferson purchased the land patent from King George III which included the Natural Bridge and 157 acres for the sum of twenty shillings or about $2.40 or in today’s dollars about $160.00. The price was so low because the land wasn’t suitable for farming. There are records that Jefferson visited Natural Bridge four times. In 1803-1804 he had a two story stone and log cabin built near the present site of the Natural Bridge Hotel where he and his guests stayed. During the war of 1812, Jefferson allowed saltpeter, used for gunpowder and ammunition, to be mined from a cave near the arch and in 1816 he provided a live-in custodian by leasing the land to Patrick Henry. Upon Jefferson’s death in 1826 the property was left to his family. Thomas Jefferson kept a guest book for guests to sign and among the visitors that signed the book are: James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, the Eighth President of the United States, John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Daniel Boone, an american pioneer and explorer, and Sam Houston, the first governor of Texas.
The Natural Bridge arch stands 215 feet high (55 feet higher than Niagara Falls), is 40 feet thick, 100 feet wide and spans 90 feet. At its peak, Natural Bridge stands 1,160 feet above sea level and Route 11 passes directly over the span.
In 2014 the Natural Bridge was sold to the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund. The sale included the arch, hotel, caverns and 1500 acres. The VCLF will donate all but the hotel and caverns to the state to be run as a park. Natural Bridge is a national historic landmark that has been in private hands since Thomas Jefferson purchased it 240 years ago.
Natural Bridge is located about 35 miles from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and takes just under an hour to reach. While visiting Natural Bridge you can continue on the path and see the saltpeter cave, the Lost River and Lace Water Falls. The walk is a gravel path on level terrain. To get to the arch you need to go down 137 steps, but if you have trouble getting around, they offer a van that will take you to the level terrain. There is an admission fee charged to enter the path to the Natural Bridge.
Using your GPS you can find Natural Bridge by using this address:
15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge, VA 24578 (540) 291-2121 or:
Directions from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast from Mapquest:
|1.||Start out going northwest on Cabell Sttoward E St.
Zoom to this Step
|2.||Turn right onto Rivermont Ave.
|3.||Rivermont Ave becomes Boonsboro Rd/US-501 Bus N.||2.6 mi|
|4.||Turn right onto US-501 N/Boonsboro Rd. Continue to follow US-501 N.
|5.||Turn left onto US-501 N/VA-130/Elon Rd. Continue to follow US-501 N/VA-130.||6.3 mi|
|6.||Turn slight left onto Rockbridge Rd/VA-130. Continue to follow VA-130.||6.3 mi|
|7.||Stay straight to go onto S Lee Hwy/US-11 N.||0.09 mi|
|8.||Take the 1st left onto Appledore Ln.
|9.||15 APPLEDORE LN is on the left.
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