Natural wonder lights up the night until October

Located just 15 miles south of historic Lexington, Virginia, the Natural Bridge State Park is a National Historic Landmark that dazzled visitors at the Illumination Ceremony on April 29. A century-long tradition, the lighting of the Natural Bridge first began in 1927, according to Park Manager Jim Jones. 

“There were two lighting engineers,” Jones said. One was Phineas Stevens from Westinghouse, when they held the ceremony for the first time, and it was President Calvin Coolidge himself who “flipped the switch to start the illumination.” 

At the time, the illumination simply brightened the bridge, but in 1932, the tradition changed. Under private ownership at the time, the lighting system was updated and improved, changed from a simple illumination to a musical and lighting spectacle called “The Drama of Creation.” It was a “30-40 minute presentation that covered the seven days of creation according to scripture,” Jones said. 

Set to music, the lighting show “was designed to highlight and compliment the music playing, and there were also some scriptures being read,” Jones said. The festivities were enjoyed for generations. However, in 2020, the light show fell victim to COVID-19. This year, the state park is returning to the classics, “going back to the original 1927 illumination” instead, Jones said. 

On the last Saturday of every month from April to October, the 215-foot-tall bridge will be illuminated with LED color-changing lights set up under the arch of the rocks for maximum impact. Not only occurring in April through October, the park also holds a special Luminary Night event on the second and third weekends in December that will feature holiday activities such as horse-drawn carriages and special holiday-themed lighting. 

Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, the Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek in Shenandoah Valley. Though the gorge is the attraction the park is named after, the park offers many other attractions, including the Natural Bridge Zoo, the Caverns at Natural Bridge and Dinosaur Kingdom II. The area also offers a variety of campgrounds, such as Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area camping, Natural Bridge Virginia KOA Campground and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. 

For more information or to plan a trip to Natural Bridge visit their website.

Perez is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

One comment

  • No drama of creation anymore? Is it video recorded?
    Why isn’t it at least offered as a video show in a room nightly? I’m so disappointed if it is just another lost history piece. We loved the Drama, the absolute highlight of our trip there, and I’ve brought countless friends and family there when the special pricing included the drama, the caverns, the wax museum, the butterfly display and the breakfast buffet included for 2. Change is not always better!!!

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