Another key moment in the history of the bridge came in 1927 when President Calvin Coolidge inaugurated “The Drama of Creation,” a light show that transformed the site into a nighttime destination.
With a stunning beauty that rivals Niagara Falls and a lineage that predates Plymouth Rock, the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia, is among America’s most treasured places. After being formed when a cavern collapsed, the natural stone arch was honored as a sacred site by the Monacan American Indian tribe in the 17th century, surveyed by a young George Washington and owned by Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century, referenced in Herman Melville’s “Great American Novel” Moby Dick in the 19th century and made a National Historic Landmark in the late 20th century.
Another key moment in the history of the bridge came in 1927 when President Calvin Coolidge inaugurated “The Drama of Creation,” a light show that transformed the site into a nighttime destination. More than 80 years later, Lightswitch updated the historic light show in collaboration with client Cape Leisure Corporation and equipment provider Murphy Lighting Systems. To maintain the historic quality of the show, Lightswitch carefully salvaged pieces of the old lighting system. We repurposed existing lighting fixtures and added new high-power, high-performance LED PAR lights that illuminate the bottom of the arch. We also conducted extensive updates to the control system, which had been badly damaged by lightning, replacing all of the main data runs with fiber-optic cable. In the historic control room, we reused the audio and lighting playback devices and added a new self-contained lighting playback controller to improve ease-of-use for the staff.
The newly streamlined lighting and control system recreated the magic of the historic light show, which now runs nightly for 30 minutes. With a short three-month schedule and a tight budget, we created a design that pays homage to the bridge’s past and ensures that it will be a part of America’s history for generations to come.