Valley and Ridge Physiography Topics

1. Regional Setting
2. Extent and Boundaries
3. Characteristic Features
4. Drainage
5. Scenic Tour
Introduction to Physiography
Coastal Plain
Mesozoic Basins
Blue Ridge
Valley and Ridge
Appalachian Plateaus
Virginia's Rivers


Scenic Tour of the Valley and Ridge (Part 6)

Natural Tunnel

• Natural Tunnel is located in the Valley and Ridge of western Scott County.  The tunnel is about 900 feet long and up to 175 feet wide.  The ceiling of the tunnel rises to about 100 feet above the creek flowing along the tunnel floor.

Natural Tunnel is another spectacular karst feature found in the carbonate rocks of western Virginia. The tunnel is now part of the Virginia State Park System. (Photograph by Robert Whisonant.)

• Natural Tunnel is a large solution cavity formed in dolomites of early Ordovician
505 to 438 million years ago
age.  Like Natural Bridge, the tunnel formed as roof rock of a cave system that later eroded away, leaving only the rock overlying the present tunnel.

Natural Tunnel formed in carbonate rocks (limestone and dolomite) of early Ordovician age. The rocks here are about the same age as the rocks that make up Natural Bridge. Much younger solution has dissolved away the rocks, creating the opening we now call Natural Tunnel. (Photograph by Phyllis Newbill)

505 to 438 million years ago
• In addition to a creek, active railroad tracks pass through the tunnel.  Visitors to Natural Tunnel State Park can see the tunnel from overlooks or from the tunnel floor.

Natural Tunnel has been used by trains since the late 1800s. These photographs show the Norfolk and Southern railroad tracks that now pass through the tunnel. (Left: photograph by Robert Whisonant; right: photograph by Phyllis Newbill)

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