ONE of the most remarkable curiosities in the world is the Natural Bridge across a little stream in the southeast corner of Rockbridge county, Virginia, in the midst of the wild and majestic scenery on the western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

About twelve miles from Buchanan, on the stage road to Lexington, as the traveler passes around the foot of the hill down a steep descent, he suddenly finds himself upon a narrow track like a lane between two high fences. 

Looking over these fences into open space, nothing would suggest to him that he is upon the great Natural Bridge so celebrated in the history of our country; but passing beyond these barriers, and down a deep gorge, he finds that this bridge crosses a narrow chasm a little less than one hundred feet wide and two hundred and thirteen feet deep, at the bottom of which flows a little stream called Cedar Creek. The thickness of this bridge of solid rock is about forty feet, its breadth is sixty feet, and its material is a tough and highly silicious limes stone, extremely hard to break, formed in massive blocks and strata, the weather-beaten surface of which shows no tendency to decompose or crumble away.

Says one who has visited the spot: "The Natural Bridge” is more wonderful than Niagara. The ravine, which it spans is nowhere else crossable for several miles above or below. It seems like a providential provision for the convenience of the people who inhabit the neighborhood.

"We went down a zigzag path to Cedar Creek, down, down among the shadows into the canyon, for nearly two hundred feet, and then looked up. Yonder is the amazing structure, arching the abyss. From the water of Cedar Creek to the roadway above, it is two hundred and ten feet, or fifty-five feet higher than the fall of Niagara. From below, the bridge is seen to great advantage along the course of the little stream; but away from this gorge, it is not a conspicuous object in the scenery, as it does not rise above the general level around it. The span is ninety feet across at the top, and a little over fifty at the base, making an irregular, elliptical arch, widening from the water to the summit. The width of the bridge also varies, being forty-five feet at the narrowest point, and broadening outward toward the bluffs. The stranger is at first impressed with the magnitude of the bridge. The pictures and descriptions all fail to give the proper idea of its mountainous dimensions. It spans a dizzy height. To look up from below, one realizes something of its majestic proportions, the tall lindens planted at one's feet scarcely reaching half way to the level of the frescoing under the arch. 'Frescoing' may not be the word to apply to the handiwork of the Almighty; but when you gaze up against the stone ceiling, and trace the image of an eagle, clearly drawn, with outspread wings, and also the scarcely less distinct representations of a lion and other living creatures, it is easy to imagine the intelligent touch of an artist's hand."

At the base of the bridge many names are carved upon the steep walls; and every schoolboy has learned to look among them for the initials of George Washington, who is said to have climbed to a good height and cut them conspicuously upon the rock. Inquiry among the residents about the bridge, however, finds no tradition of this interesting event in the life of Washington; but it is related on good authority that, standing at the edge of the creek which flows under the bridge, he threw a silver dollar clear over the arch. Very few of the most athletic men who visit the place in these later days, are muscular enough to sling a single pebble to the ceiling of the arch.

From the bend in the creek just above the bridge, the most striking view is obtained; and from this point, the flinty route is indicated where James H. Piper, a student from Lexington, in 1618, climbed the solid walls and scaled the summit. The schoolbook story of the knife worn to the hilt in cutting niches for the hands and feet of the climber, and the extended rope thrown down from above, just as the hero was about to fall from his giddy elevation, is no doubt largely a myth. But the thrilling story is founded on fact. Many exciting legends are related in connection with the Natural Bridge, some of which would serve for poems or paintings.  It is said that a wealthy Southern gentleman has lately purchased a large tract of some four hundred acres, including the Natural Bridge. 

This he proposes to fit up as a grand park, which will doubtless become a favorite place of resort for the lovers of rustic scenery.