Natural Bridge and Natural Bridge Caverns ... also a few other surprises
Updated: May 12, 2018
Today, I visited Natural Bridge and checked out the caverns, too. This was the hottest day of the trip, so going underground where the temperatures are a constant 54 degrees year-round seemed like a good idea. :D Natural Bridge is a geological formation in Rockbridge County, Virginia which was carved out by Cedar Creek (a small tributary of the James River) creating a gorge in the mountainous limestone, forming a natural arch 215 feet high (taller than Niagara Falls) with a span of 90 feet. Natural Bridge has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Natural Bridge was a sacred site of the Native American Monacan tribe and was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. A young George Washington is said to have come here and surveyed the bridge (and carved his initials in the rock).
On May 12, 2014, Governor McAuliffe officially accepted the deed to Natural Bridge, transferring its ownership to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The bridge and surrounding area is slated to become a state park in late 2016.
The Natural Bridge Caverns (which are located just up the road from Natural Bridge) were discovered just before the turn of the 20th century and opened to the public in 1977. They are the deepest commercial caverns on the East Coast. During the tour, we descended more than 34 stories below the surface. The caverns have numerous stalactites and stalagmites and lots of "flowstone". Bats inhabit the caverns, but they aren't typically in them in the summer. The bats enter and exit the caverns through the natural openings (as opposed to the way humans enter now which is through a manmade entrance). It is illegal to close off the natural openings of caves and caverns.
I also drove a few miles up Route 11 searching out the mysterious and mythical Foamhenge. Foamhenge is a full-size replica of Stonehenge made entirely out of styrofoam. Yes, you read that right! It was created by an artist in 2004. Wow. So cool!! Although, it is deteriorating a bit now, it is cool nonetheless.
I headed a few miles east to the Snowden Dam and checked out a footbridge across the James River that is part of the Appalachian Trail. So, yeah,technically, I hiked on the Appalachian Trail. ;) The footbridge runs roughly parallel to a CSX railroad bridge which is pretty cool, too. If you look closely you can glimpse a couple of pictures of the Snowden Dam which is operated by Dominion Power for electricity generation.
Great day visiting all these awesome places.