Written by a Certified Professional Geologist born in Bristol, six miles from this natural phenomenon who now resides in Big Stone Gap, even closer to the Natural Tunnel, sometimes called Natural Bridge, in Virginia. It brings back a summer when my young sons, along with two nephews, explored caves and Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and I do believe we were at this Natural Tunnel, still being called Virginia’s Natural Bridge. He has spent his professional career in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, though he did receive his degrees in geology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This is his first book expanded from one of the many articles he has published in years past.
Hidden in the mountainous folds of Southwest Virginia, Natural Tunnel awaits the amazement of both seasoned acquaintances and new visitors alike. The main attraction at the 850-acre Natural Tunnel State Park, Natural Tunnel Pierces Purchase Ridge for 850 feet at an average height of 50 feet and houses both a creek and a railroad-that’s right, trains run through the Tunnel on a regular basis, their horns echoing off the magnificent 300-foot cliffs surrounding the Tunnel. In Natural Tunnel: Nature’s Marvel in Stone, author and geologist Tony Scales recoutns the history of the great feature, from its geologic beginnings to the first written account of man’s interaction with the Tunnel, through a period of commercial exploitation, to the present-day state park. Richly illustrated with numerous historic photographs and geologic diagrams, Natural Tunnel is a must for the rail fan, the casual visitor, or the die-hard fan of the treasure that is Natural Tunnel.
On the border of Virginia and Kentucky, at the northeastern end of Pine Mountain and nestled in the Appalachian coalfields, lies a treasure little-known to the outside world. The Breaks, affectionately and appropriately called The Grand Canyon of the South, is the two mile-long, thousand-feet-deep, sheer-walled chasm created by the Russell Fork River. For years the Breaks was accessible only to the intrepid explorer or determined backwoodsman, but its blanket of virgin timber and strategic location in the land of Black Gold caught the timber and rail magnates’ eyes, and their endeavors brought it before the American public. Now the centerpiece of Breaks Interstate Park – one of only two interstate parks in the United States – it is the joy of the whitewater enthusiast, the delight of the hiker, and a solace to the sightseer. In “The Breaks: The Grand Canyon of the South,” author and geologist Tony Scales shares the story of this wonder, from its creation with the rise of the Appalachian Mountains, to the first footfalls in this wild and remote place, to its role in the commercial exploitation of the region’s natural riches, and finally to its preservation. Profusely illustrated with historic photographs and maps, “The Breaks: The Grand Canyon of the South” is a must for those who cherish the scenic splendor and history of the Appalachian Highlands.