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Natural Bridge Park

on Wed, 09/16/2020 - 16:03
<blurb> The Natural Bridge Park is a privately owned recreational park area in Winston County …</blurb>
Caroline Greer, Auburn University
Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge Park is a privately owned recreational park area in Winston County centered on a natural geologic formation in the shape of a large stone bridge. The two-span natural "bridge" is 60 feet high, 148 feet long, and made of sandstone and iron ore. The formation is the longest natural bridge east of the Rocky Mountains. The nearby town of Natural Bridge takes its name from the formation.
The site, set in the Cumberland Plateau Physiographic Section, is one of many spectacular geologic formations in north Alabama. Throughout the region, harder sandstones resisted the erosion of the softer rocks around them, creating such things as caves and natural bridges, including a second example of this type of formation in Grant, Marshall County. This formation dates to around 200 million years ago and was formed by water from the New River eroding softer rock layers over millenia. The property is home to numerous varieties of ferns as well as a stand of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) typically found much farther north, a remnant species from the Pleistocene epoch (approximately 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago). Numerous native wildflowers bloom there in spring.
Native Americans likely used the site as a shelter during their history, giving rise to a local legend that they carved an "Indian head" in one of the formations. This is highly unlikely to be a human-made structure, however. Opened in 1954, the current owners purchased the site in 1982. The park features an artesian well with potable water, picnic accommodations, a gift shop with handmade items, and a nature trail. Visitors are prohibited from walking on the bridge formation for safety and insurance reasons but are allowed to view it from the trail underneath.
Natural Bridge Park is located on Winston County Road 3500 just east of the Natural Bridge community. It is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to dusk. Admission is $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for children.
Published:  September 16, 2020   |   Last updated:  September 16, 2020