Open main menu

Page:Notes on the State of Virginia (1853).djvu/40

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
24
NATURAL BRIDGE.

It is a water of James River, and sufficient in the dryest seasons to turn a grist mill, though its fountain is not more than two miles above.[1]

[Note.—This description was written after a lapse of several years from the time of my visit to the bridge, and under an error of recollection which requires apology, for it is from the bridge itself that the mountains are visible both ways, and not from the bottom of the fissure, as my impression then was. The statement therefore in the former editions needs the corrections here given to it.August 16, 1817.]


  1. Don Ulloa mentions a break similar to this in the province of Angaraez, in South America. It is from 16 to 22 feet wide, 111 feet deep, and of 1.3 miles continuance, English measures. Its breadth at top is not sensibly greater than at bottom. But the following fact is remarkable, and will furnish some light for conjecturing the probable origin of our Natural Bridge. “Esta caxa, ó cauce está cortada en péna viva con tanta precision, que las desigualdades del un lado entrantes, corresponden á las del otro lado salientes, como si aquella altura se hubiese abierto expresamente, con sus bueltas y tortuosidades, para darle transito á los aguas por entre los dos murallones que la forman; siendo tal su igualdad, que si llegasen á juntarse se endentarían uno con otro sin dexar hueco.” Not. Amer. II. § 10. Don Ulloa inclines to the opinion, that this channel has been effected by the wearing of the water which runs through it, rather than that the mountain should have been broken open by any convulsion of Nature. But if it had been worn by the running of water, would not the rocks which form the sides have been worn plane? or if, meeting in some parts with veins of harder stone, the water had left prominences on the one side, would not the same cause have sometimes, or perhaps generally, occasioned prominences on the other side also? Yet Don Ulloa tells us that on the other side there are always corresponding cavities, and that these tally with the prominences so perfectly, that were the two sides to come together, they would fit in all their indentures without leaving any void. I think that this does not resemble the effect of running water, but looks rather as if the two sides had parted asunder. The sides of the break, over which is the Natural Bridge of Virginia, consisting of a veiny rock which yields to Time, the correspondence between the salient and re-entering inequalities, if it existed at all, has now disappeared. This break has the advantage of the one described by Don Ulloa in its finest circumstance; no portion in that instance having held together, during the separation of the other parts, so as to form a bridge over the abyss.

    Another is mentioned by Clavigero: “Il ponte di dio. Cosi chiamano un vasto volume di terra traversato sul profondo fiume Atoyaque presso al villaggio Moleaxac, cento miglia in circa da Messico verso Scirocco, sopra il quale passano comodamente icarri e le carrozze. Si puo credere, che sia stato un frammento della vicina montagna, da qualche antico tremuoto strappato.” Storia del Messico, L. 1., § 3.