The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Once a global attraction, Virginia's Natural Bridge sold and now destined to be state park

  • Print

RICHMOND, Va. - Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-high stone bridge once owned by Thomas Jefferson and a centuries-old tourist attraction, has been sold by its private owner at a fraction of its value to a conservation group and is destined to become part of Virginia's park system.

Under a complex deal sealed Thursday, Washington, D.C., real estate developer Angelo A. Puglisi accepted $8.6 million for the 1,500-plus-acre property in southwest Virginia and tossed in the 90-foot-long limestone bridge for free in return for tax credits. The bridge alone is valued at $21 million.

The Shenandoah Valley property, which includes 35 parcels, caverns, a 150-room hotel and cabins, has an estimated value of more than $40 million.

Once the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund repays the loan it used to pay Puglisi, the attraction will be transferred to Virginia as a state park. That could occur as early as 2015.

The sale adds a new chapter in Natural Bridge's history — from a sacred site for Indians before Europeans arrived, to Jefferson's purchase from King George II for 20 shillings in 1774, to what was considered one of the natural wonders of the world in the centuries that followed. It even had a mention in Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," which describes a whale's arched body rising from the water "like Virginia's Natural Bridge."

George Washington surveyed the property, and Jefferson called it "the most Sublime of Nature's Work." A stone found nearly a century ago in Cedar Creek, which lies beneath the bridge, bore the initials "G.W."

It was that history that attracted Puglisi to buy the southwest Virginia land in 1988. The son of Italian immigrants, his father worked as a labourer in the building of Washington's Union Station in the early 1900s and later was a grocer.

Grateful to the country where his father established a new life, the young Puglisi studied the Constitution, deciding that a property once owned by Jefferson was a fitting gesture to his good fortune and a testament to the nation's founders.

In an interview, Puglisi said he was hopeful future visitors would be mindful of Natural Bridge's history.

"I think they would need to reflect on this history, the founding fathers, what a great, great man Thomas Jefferson was and the courage they had," he said. "It took those men to make this country, a place where my father could come and do much more than what his circumstances were."

___

Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sszkotakap .

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Weekend springtime weather with Doug Speirs - Apr 19

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local-(Standup photo)- A wood duck swims through the water with fall refections in Kildonan Park Thursday afternoon.
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support a proposed ban on tanning beds for youth under 18?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google