Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Great Augusta Natural Bridge (Sipapu Bridge), Utah

It appears that the postmark on this old postcard was 1918. The note, written in Finnish by a friend to my grandmother who by then had settled in Minnesota, is ironic when juxtaposed with the circular ink-stamped quote above it: See Europe if you will, but see America first.

Natural Bridges National Monument was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and is the oldest National Park Service site in Utah. The Monument is comprised of three natural bridges, each having had at least three names given them through the ages. Augusta, shown in this old postcard, is now known as Sipapu Bridge.

The following information is from the National Park Service website:
Sipapu is the largest and most spectacular of the three bridges in the Monument. It is considered middle aged, older than Kachina but younger than Owachomo. Its rounded opening and smooth sides are mute evidence of countless floods bearing scouring rocks and sand. This bridge, whose opening would almost house the dome of the United States Capitol, has taken thousands of years to form but will someday collapse and erode as part of the endless cycles of time and change.


We will never know the names given to the bridges by early inhabitants of this land. The Paiute referred to all bridges as mah-vah-talk-tump, translated today as under the horse's belly. While today we refer to this bridge as Sipapu, is has known several names in the last 100 years:

This name was applied by Cass Hite in 1883. Hite operated a placer gold mine on the Colorado River and explored White Canyon from there.

Horace Long, who explored the region in 1904, renamed the bridge after his wife.

A Hopi term for the opening between worlds, the present name was given by William Douglas, who led a government survey party to the bridges in 1908, mapping the exact boundaries of the new national monument. Douglas thought that the ruins and rock art found in the area must be related to the Hopi people of northern Arizona.


A moderately strenuous trail descends from the parking area along Bridge View Drive to the base of the bridge. The trail has ladders, stairs, switchbacks, and short steep sections of slickrock along its route, and may be hazardous due to ice and snow during winter months.

Length: 0.6 mile (1 km) one-way
Time: 45 minutes round-trip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Dimensions (feet/meters)

Height: 220/67
Span: 268/82
Width: 31/9.5
Thickness: 53/16
photo by David Mendosa

The natural bridges represent three states: old age, maturity, and youth.
    * Owachomo Bridge no longer suffers stream erosion, but erosion by rain, frost action, and sandblast. Now in its late phase, it could already have a fatal crack, or it could stand for centuries.

    * Sipapu Bridge suffers little or no stream erosion because its abutments now lie far from the streambed. A mature bridge, it is largest in both height and span . Sipapu can be hard to spot from the overlook on the canyon rim, despite its size.

    * Kachina Bridge, in its youthful state, looms huge and bulky. Floodwaters in White Canyon still work to enlarge it. A trail threads the canyon between Sipapu and Kachina bridges.

 Climbing Down to Sipapu Bridge, photo from

I found this rather passionate description of the bridge in an online hiking journal:
The Sipapu Bridge ... is the fourth largest natural span in the world, and the second largest natural bridge. It has one of the most perfect and symmetrical shapes of any I’ve seen -- it’s really bridge-like, flat on top and rounded beneath. It used to be called the Augusta Bridge, and I wish it still was -- it’s the perfect name for such an august, inspiring structure. I could see it up ahead as I was hiking toward it, but then suddenly, after making a climb down plus a few turns on the trail, I lost it completely. Looking all around, confused, I was amazed that such a major piece of rock could just disappear. Then I looked overhead -- and 220 feet straight above me, there it soared.

This particular OPW postcard is dedicated to a blogging friend of mine who many of you also consider a friend. He has authored the blog titled Don't Feed the Pixies for some years and has been on my blogroll for two years. Sadly - and totally suddenly - he left comments (one to his regular readers and one to me) after my last post in which he said he was having to remove his blog. In part, he wrote:
Thank you for providing light in a tunnel of dullness. I came to the blog world in hope of finding others out there who I might have something in common with, or were just other lost souls looking for new ideas and new thoughts – I have enjoyed meeting you all.
Well, damn. Don't Feed the Pixies was itself a provider of light in a tunnel of dullness, as well as a bridge of friendship and delight. I will miss you in the blogosphere so much, dear friend. May you have serenity.

Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel, 
The Concert in Central Park, September 19, 1981
15 Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water - MyVideo



the watercats said...

I have got to get to America.. by hook or by crook!... I can almost feel the sandstone under my hands... and the Pixie thing, the blogging world has just got a bit duller.. hopefully he can do the Pheonix trick and rise anew ;-)

Fireblossom said...

I knew zero about this until reading your post, Lydia. What an astonishing thing, that such a natural bridge even exists! It is things like this that make me feel newly alive. I mean, really, a natural bridge of these proportions? Ridiculous. And yet, there it stands.

I especially enjoyed the hiker's account. Wow! Look up, lol.

I am sorry about your friend. I would be utterly at sea without some of my bloggy buds. I began my blog thinking it would just be an orderly place to arrange my poems, and maybe a couple friends would stop in from time to time. But it has been SO much more than that. I have made friends I can honestly say I love dearly.

My OPW is up, too. Teddy Roosevelt made it into both our posts! Synchronicity, woman! :-)

Phivos Nicolaides said...

This is a wonderful post Lydia. Hugs

Lydia said...

the watercats~ I've said it before: you deserve a trip to the U.S. because you would be such an appreciative tourist. Fingers crossed for it to happen for you.
Yea! I love your concept of Pixies rising like Phoenix. It's a good thought to hang onto.

Fireblossom~ Am answering now and will come later to view your OPW postcard. Been a hectic day.
I particularly liked the hiker's account also, and am envious of his/her experience.
It really has been a jolt losing Pixies. Absolutely true: we come to respect, admire, and love new friends we meet in the blogosphere.

Phivos~ Hugs back and many thanks for being so loyal to my OPW posts! Readers (or commenters, at least) have dropped on Wednesdays - so I appreciate so much your visits.

La Belette Rouge said...

I am not afraid of bridges but there is something about that one that would require some deep breaths for me to cross.
I am so sorry about the loss of a beloved blog. I still mourn blogs that shut down over 2 years ago. I feel sure that these bloggy friends don't realize that they are still missed and thought of.
p.s. Thanks for introducing Fireblossom to me. What a great writer she is!

Rhiannon said...

Oh, I am very saddened by your dear blogging friend having to stop his blog and blogging. I wonder how he is? Did he say to you? Well, that is private and not my business.

I can identify though, as I've often had thoughts of stopping my blog on and off...or now my 2 "blogs"....when I started it years ago, there were many blogging friends dropping by...but I've kind of evolved into just doing it as an outlet and to also try to make a difference in the world in any small way that I can. I don't have much concern for having many comments and such anymore...I have made a few very dear friends across the country and across the seas and across the world. For that might not have happened if I had never started blogging...I feel closer to some of them (and you too dear Lydia) than most around me here where I live...

Well, I hope your friend is "okay" and maybe he just decided to make a "change" in his life or something...whatever the reason I wish him warm angel Blessings of peace...and joy..

Oh, and did I thank you dropping by my other new blog and what you wrote was what a good friend would write! meant a lot to me...your moral support as "we women".



Lydia said...

Belette~ I guess I didn't feel fear when I looked at the pictures, come to think of it. That must be because it looks like a great hike!
Yup, that Fireblossom really is something. And thank you for introducing me to Laura Munson, whose blog I signed up for tonight after reading your guest post.

Rhi~ I feel so honored that you feel close to me and I want you to know the feeling is mutual. Just knowing you are out there gives me strength and comfort. I'm glad you didn't stop blogging!
I do not know the particulars about my blog friend quitting his blog. I miss his writing and songs, and just hope he is safe. Your concern surely helps in its own way also.

Rhiannon said...

Lydia, just wanted to let you know that I found the Donovan song he sings with Jennifer Warnes on a Smothers Brothers show, that I mentioned in a comment in your post below this one...I just posted it on my blog..but there are two songs Donovan sings before Jennifer comes onto the small stage to sing "Time is on the Run" in this youtube be patient and watch it towards the end..thats when you'll hear and see it. I really think you will like the lyrics.

I have this song on an old Jennifer Warnes album I have, she sings it on her own in her album. Her name used to be Warren but because an actress had the same name they had her change it many years ago. She also was in the original play "Hair". Enjoy!


Lydia said...

Rhi~ Hah! I saw it at your blog and left a comment before finding this comment. Thanks.
I did not know that Jennifer Warnes was in the original "Hair." She is a great one, most definitely, and never recognized sufficiently in my view.

naomi dagen bloom said...

Soothing to think of natural bridges as outcroppings that we could do well to relate to in our hyperreal, over-extended world. I am bemused by the the men who renamed Sipapu bridge and glad that the practice ended. Of course in cities there are streets being name-changed periodically...can make a sense of place difficult to hold.

Anonymous said...

Still having problems - wish i could say more other than for every bit of my hope and faith in human nature that has been knocked people like you help restore it :)

Nature is wonderful - thank you for reminding me and for caring

Still keeping an eye on you when i can xx


Lydia said...

naomi~ What a good point about a sense of place being difficult to hold with change(s). Those early explorers had ample opportunities to kiss up to spouses, officers, benefactors, etc.-and seemed to have taken advantage of them. :)

dftp~ I am glad that you felt cared for by this post, and certainly also from the comments by others. My heart aches that you are unhappy and hopes for better days ahead soon. (I'm glad you are still stopping by here when you can. :) xo

Jingle Poetry said...

Dear poetic friend: how are you?

our poetry potluck is open, if you have poems (old or new) to share, link in NOW,
you can link up to 3 poems, the more you share, the happier we are.
Thanks for the participation! Tuesday 8pm is the deadline to link up, please hurry up!
Happy Monday Poetry Potluck!
Happy Tuesday!

Jingle Poetry said...

lovely writing!



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