Natural Bridge





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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