Natural Bridge the 8th wonder of the world?
More than 239 years ago, King George III granted 157 acres of this Shenandoah Valley land to Thomas Jefferson for 20 shillings. Today, the landmark Virginia Natural Bridge north of Roanoke has grown in scope and prestige alongside America itself. Bidders will have a chance to own this slice of history on December 18, 2013 in an on-site auction by Woltz & Associates. Millions have visited the wondrous 20-story limestone arch that spans 20 feet over Cedar Creek.
Natural Bridge, in the eponymous Rockbridge County, Virginia is a geological formation in which Cedar Creek (a small tributary of the James River) has carved out a gorge in the mountainous limestone terrain, forming an arch 215 ft (66 m) high with a span of 90 ft (27 m). It consists of horizontal limestone strata, and is the remains of the roof of a cave or tunnel through which the creek once flowed. Natural Bridge has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.
Natural Bridge State Park officially opened on September 24, 2016. As a state park, the property is managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, although it remains owned by the VCLF; it is the only state park operating on privately owned land. The property will be transferred to state ownership after the original loan has been paid in full. VCLF continues to both own and manage the nearby Natural Bridge Hotel and Natural Bridge Caverns.
Visitors must purchase tickets to view the bridge from below, although the park's fees under state management are about half what had been charged under prior ownership. U.S. Route 11 (Lee Highway) runs on top of the bridge, but protective fences make it difficult to see anything besides the roadway.
The state park includes several long-standing attractions, including the trail under the bridge and along Cedar Creek, a recreation of Monacan Native American housing, and the 30-foot-tall (9.1 m) Lace Falls. The "Drama of Creation" light show continues to be shown in the evening, after the state park is technically closed. One change under state ownership was the removal of Foamhenge, a full-size replica of Stonehenge made entirely out of styrofoam that was formerly located on the property. The attraction was moved to Fairfax County after it was determined that the art installation did not fit with the state park's mission.
The new state park was designated an "Affiliated Area" by the National Park Service in 2016. The designation does not imply ownership or management by the federal government, though it does allow for their technical and financial assistance