Category: LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF THE SOUTH
Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land
Though several natural bridges are known in this country, there is but
one that is famous the world over, and that is the one which spans Clear
Creek, Virginia--the remnant of a cave-roof, all the rest of the cavern
having collapsed. It is two hundred and fifteen feet above the water, and
is a solid mass of rock forty feet thick, one hundred feet wide, and
ninety feet in span. Thomas Jefferson owned it; George Washington scaled
its side and carved his name on the rock a foot higher than any one else.
Here, too, came the youth who wanted to cut his name above Washington's,
and who found, to his horror, when half-way up, that he must keep on, for
he had left no resting-places for his feet at safe and reachable
distances--who, therefore, climbed on and on, cutting handhold and
foothold in the limestone until he reached the top, in a fainting state,
his knife-blade worn to a stump. Here, too, in another tunnel of the
cavern, flows Lost River, that all must return to, at some time, if they
drink of it. Here, beneath the arch, is the dark stain, so like a flying
eagle that the French officer who saw it during the Revolution augured
from it a success for the united arms of the nations that used the eagle
as their symbol.
The Mohegans knew this wonder of natural masonry, for to this point they
were pursued by a hostile tribe, and on reaching the gulf found
themselves on the edge of a precipice that was too steep at that point to
descend. Behind them was the foe; before them, the chasm. At the
suggestion of one of their medicine-men they joined in a prayer to the
Great Spirit for deliverance, and when again they looked about them,
there stood the bridge. Their women were hurried over; then, like so many
Horatii, they formed across this dizzy highway and gave battle.
Encouraged by the knowledge that they had a safe retreat in case of being
overmastered, they fought with such heart that the enemy was defeated,
and the grateful Mohegans named the place the Bridge of God.
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