Landscape Gardening: The Natural Bridge of Virginia

Jefferson's interest in nature extended beyond landscape gardening to nature preservation.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Natural Bridge of Virginia was as famous as Niagara Falls.

Jefferson bought the natural bridge on July 4, 1774 to protect it, but had difficulty explaining his reasons to other people. He told them that it had something to do with future generations.

The purchase of the natural bridge was the first major act of nature preservation in the United States - more than three-quarters of a century before Yosemite became a park.

While conducting a geological survey of the area, a young George Washington carved his name on the wall underneath - an action that would be called vandalism today.


Harry Fenn, Natural Bridge of Virginia, 1874, William Cullen Bryant's Picturesque America