August 17, 1883

Hawthorne Visits Natural Bridge in North Adams


On this day in 1838, Nathaniel Hawthorne visited Natural Bridge just outside of North Adams. It was just the kind of awe-inspiring scene that so moved early tourists. A 30-foot-long natural marble bridge — the only one on the continent— spanned a deep chasm that had been carved by melting glaciers thousands of years before. A Romantic, Hawthorne found the crags and fissures, torrents and pools, brilliant white marble and deep shadows uplifting. He noted with regret that nature's work was even then being re-worked by man. Quarrymen were extracting pure white marble. Fortunately, even after a century of quarrying, Natural Bridge is intact. It is as compelling a sight today as it was in 1838.

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