In 1750, George Washington was 18 years old and looking for direction in his life. His family was well off but not exactly wealthy, and his desired vocation, a position in the British Navy, was dismissed by his mother as too hazardous. Through a series of family connections, he eventually was given the rather cushy position as official surveryor of Culpeper County, Virginia.
It was in this capacity that Washington made his first visit to Virginia’s “Natural Bridge.” Here, legend has it, the physically imposing Washington, who towered in his day at 6’2″, threw a rock from the creek running underneath the bridge to its top, a distance of 215 feet.
Stories of Washington’s physical prowess were well-known during his lifetime and his legend only grew after his death, sometimes blurring the line between fact and hearsay. However, in 1927, a large stone was found in the brush on top of the bridge carved with an official surveyor’s cross and the initials “G.W.,” which historians have accepted as likely proof of first president’s impressive upper body strength.