20 August 2009

Saltpeter Cave-Natural Bridge, Virginia

The Saltpeter Cave lies beyond the Natural Bridge on the pathway to Lace Falls. It forms a large hole in the canyon wall. The cave is also the work of the past's flowing water and erosion.
The contents of the cave became a valuable resource for ammunition during the War of 1812 and the Civil War 1861-65. Workmen made gunpowder from nitrates they mined and from bird and bat droppings. There are remains of the metal rail mine cart tracks leading down into the cave which is now closed.

The meandering Cedar Creek flows under the bridge that leads to the Saltpeter Cave entrance.

10 August 2009

Natural Bridge-That's My World

This past Saturday, the 8th of August I decided to take a trip to Natural Bridge. With all the rains we have had this summer, I was thinking lots of green and water. I was not disappointed. Natural Bridge is located in Rockbridge County, off Interstate 80 traveling north, at exit 175. It is about 31 miles from my home.
It is 137 steps from the visitor center to the bottom where the Cedar Creek and Natural Bridge are located. One can either walk down the scenic stairway or take a shuttle bus. I opted for the stairway and enjoyed the beautiful tree canopy, vines, butterflies, birds and creek. Along the path, there are benches and little niches where you can stop and take in the beautiful scenery all around you. At the bottom of the stairway you come upon the creek and a path that leads you to Natural Bridge and beyond.

Natural Bridge is a geological formation in which Cedar Creek (a small tributary of the James River-pictured above) 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), see photograph below.

The bridge consists of horizontal limestone strata, and is the remains of the roof of a cave or tunnel through which the creek once flowed. It is crossed by a public road, U.S. Highway 11. There are fences on either side of the highway, blocking the view from the top of the bridge.

In 1774, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres (635,000 m²) of land including the Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings. Jefferson called the Bridge "the most Sublime of nature's works". Jefferson built a two-room log cabin, with one room reserved for guests, beginning its use as a retreat. While President, in 1802, he surveyed the place with his own hands. Many famous guests stayed here, including John Marshall, James Monroe, Henry Clay, Sam Houston, and Martin Van Buren.

Natural Bridge was one of the wonders of the new world that Europeans visited during the 18th and 19th centuries. Vacationing guests from all over the world took day trips from Natural Bridge on horseback or horse drawn carriages to explore the countryside. In 1833, a new owner erected the Forest Inn to accommodate the increasing number of people. The bridge had considerable notoriety during the 19th century.

I will share more of my trip with you in the weeks ahead. The trail took me about a mile in and there were many interesting sights along the way.

Natural Bridge has been designated a Virginia Historical Landmark and a National Historical Landmark.

Be sure to stop by our wonderful That's My World meme. We had over 100 participants last week. I personally enjoy visiting other blogs from around the world. Enjoy.

03 August 2009

Humpback Bridge-Covington, Virginia-That's My World

Saturday morning hubby and I took off for the Covington/Lake Moomaw area to look at properties. Of course, I always have side trips planned once the business portion of the day is completed. So, Saturday's trip included a visit to the Humpback Bridge. We definitely were not disappointed in this excursion. We will be returning come Fall for a picnic in the Park.
The Humpback Bridge is located three miles west of Covington, Virginia. It can be reached by traveling on US 64 and exiting at exit 10. The bridge was built for the old James River and Kanawha Turnpike Company. It is located on its original location. There are five acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, restrooms and picnic tables alongside Dunlap Creek.

It is the only single span 100 foot wooden arched covered bridge in Virginia and maybe in the United States. The Humpback Bridge is unique as far as bridge designs. It has its original hand-hewn timbers which are put together with hand-made locust pins. The span is 120 feet long, with abutments placed 100 feet apart, with no middle support. The center of the floor and roof is about four feet higher than at the ends, thus giving the humped appearance from whence it was named. It is the only bridge of its design in the United States.
The bridge served many a traveler until 1929, when it was abandoned for traffic with the completion of the Midland Trail.
The bridge was restored by the State Highway Department in 1954 which matched a $5,000 fund raised locally by the Covington Business and Professional Women's Club.
Unfortunately, teenagers have decided to adorn the interior of the bridge with graffiti.

In this shot you can see the bowed/humpback effect.

Humpback Covered Bridge Chronology
(as recorded at the National Register for Historic Places):

1784 - George Washington tours the Alleghany region and reports to the Virginia Assembly the necessity of constructing a system of canals and turnpikes to open trade and communication with the west
1785 – James River Company incorporated
1816 – Virginia Board of Public Works established
1820 – Virginia General Assembly passes an act making the James River Company a state-operated venture and authorizes construction of a 208-mile road from the mouth of Dunlap Creek to the great falls of the Kanawha River
1824 – Three bridges were constructed on Dunlap Creek west of Covington, VA
1837 – Flood destroys all three bridges on Dunlap Creek and they are subsequently rebuilt
1842 – Flood destroys all bridges on the turnpike between Covington, VA and Lewisburg, WV and they are subsequently rebuilt
1849 – Upper Dunlap Creek Bridge rebuilt
1850 – Middle Dunlap Creek Bridge rebuilt
1856 – Flood destroys Lower Dunlap Creek Bridge
1857 – Present Humpback Covered Bridge built
1929 – Humpback Covered Bridge bypassed
1953 – Covington Business & Professional Women’s Club raises money for repairs and preservation of Humpback Covered Bridge
1954 – Humpback Covered Bridge restored and surrounding land developed as a public park
1969 – Humpback Covered Bridge designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Be sure to stop by our wonderful That's My World meme. We had over 100 participants last week. I personally enjoy visiting other blogs from around the world. Enjoy.