In the early 1960’s, it was all the rage. There were two places on the east coast that were “must see’s” and my mom and dad were no exception. They wanted to see them. One was the great Natural Bridge and the other Niagara Falls. It seems strange that people were so obsessed with a water falls and a bridge, especially in today’s world where there are so many attraction distractions. Natural Bridge, Va., was my parent’s choice for a quick trip in 1962. It was a pretty rough and remote spot outside of a 19th Century resort hotel and a tiny reception center located on a small winding road in the backcountry of the Shenandoah Valley. Some 60 years later, there have been changes, but one thing remains the same.
One of the changes from our 1962 visit was the addition of a huge welcome center with a store marketing everything Natural Bridge. We got our tickets and headed down the stone steps by the waterfall and creek leading to the bridge. I was always told that the Natural Bridge was one of the seven wonders of the world. When approaching it, it’s easy to see why. It is 215 feet high, 40 feet thick, 100 feet wide and spans 90 feet. The Monacan Indians called this ancient wonder, “The Bridge of God.” Legend has it that George Washington surveyed the area in 1750. Upon seeing the bridge, he scaled about 23 feet up the left wall of the bridge and carved his initials “G.W.”, which can still be seen.
On July 5, 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres including Natural Bridge from King George III for 20 shillings of “good and lawful money,” about $2.40. Jefferson enjoyed this place and in 1803, he built a two-room cabin there. Sublime was how statesman Edmund Burke in 1757 described the delightful pleasure one experiences when viewing something of great peril yet it poses no threat to the viewer. He wrote, “Whatever excites this delight, I call sublime.” Jefferson called Natural Bridge, “The most sublime of Nature’s works.” As Chris and I walked through the arch we sensed the magnificence of God. Indeed, Psalm 8:3 and 9 came to mind, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained…O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.”
It was well worth the visit and we would have liked to have stayed longer and explored the area, but the cows needed milking. Yes, there is a Cock a Doodle Moo cow, a multi-colored fusion between a Holstein and a Chicken by the visitor’s center. I have no idea what connection it has to the Natural Bridge, but it was there. So I took advantage of my old farm boy upbringing and posed for a photo op. No milk—what would you expect from a cross between a cow and a chicken? Chris thought I was pretty “goofy” for wanting a picture, but I just couldn’t resist highlighting the contrast between the Cock a Doodle Moo Cow and The Bridge of God. They just don’t make tourist traps like they used to, but the Bridge of God remains in its glory.