The Quick 10: Nine Fallen Natural Landmarks (and One That's Stumbling)

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Forget about London Bridge "“ it seems that everything is falling down. When it comes to natural landmarks, at least, it seems that you'd better catch "˜em while you can. Erosion "“ and occasionally vandals "“ are making nature's birthmarks a thing of the past. Here are nine landmarks that you can no longer view and one that's headed that way.

oldman

1. The Old Man of the Mountain was a natural landmark in New Hampshire up until about six and a half years ago. The way it was positioned on the side of the mountain prompted Daniel Webster to write, "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men." Unfortunately, God Almighty apparently saw fit to close up shop in April 2003, because his "sign" collapsed down the side of the mountain. You can still see it, though "“ New Hampshirites (New Hampshans? New Hampshirians?) voted to make the Old Man the emblem on their state quarter a few years prior to its demise.

jumpoffjoe

2. Jumpoff Joe used to be a huge rock formation "“ a sea stack, to be exact "“ on the beach in Newport, Oregon. For most of the 1800s, it was impossible to walk along the beach without somehow climbing over or walking through the 100-foot chunk of stone. By the 1890s, erosion created a small gap between the cliffs and the rock, and without the support of the cliffs, the arch collapsed in a severe storm in 1916.

3. Similarly, Wall Arch of Arches National Park in Utah, is no longer. At one point it was 33 feet tall and 71 feet across and was the 12th largest arch in the park, which is no small feat considering that the park is home to more than 2,000 of the majestic structures.

gods finger
4. El Dedo de Dios "“ "God's Finger" "“ was once located in the Atlantic Ocean by Las Palmas, Spain. The spindly stone vaguely resembled a finger sticking up from a closed fist, sort of like the "#1" gesture. At least, it did until November, 2005, when Tropical Storm Delta broke the finger off like a vengeful mobster.

honeymoon

5. Honeymoon Bridge. I'm kind of cheating with this one "“ it's not exactly a natural landmark, but a bridge spanning a natural landmark. Also known as the Upper Steel Arch Bridge or the Fallsview Bridge, this structure opened in 1898 and spanned 840 feet at Niagara Falls. For years after its installation, the bridge swayed with heavy winds and unexpected weights. Of course, the bridge was built to sway a little, but this one moved so much it made people hold their breath when driving over it. And with good reason "“ after an ice storm in January 1938, the bridge collapsed under the added weight of the ice on the bridge and the support structures. It was replaced in 1941 by the Rainbow Bridge, located about 500 feet away from where the Honeymoon Bridge originally stood.

6. No doubt you're familiar with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, at least by name. They were built by Nebuchadnezzar II for his ailing wife sometime around 600 BC who was terribly homesick for her native Persia. He decided that if she had a place where she could visit the beautiful plants and fragrant aromas of home, she might feel better. Legend has it that the gardens were destroyed by earthquakes sometime during the second century B.C., but there's also some debate as to whether the gardens actually existed at all.

7. Eye of Needle in Montana was another arching natural landmark that collapsed over Memorial Day in 1997. Unlike the others, though, this topple wasn't an act of God. When park rangers went to investigate the situation, they discovered beer bottles, footprints and trash. By itself, perhaps that wouldn't have been an indication, but when coupled with the fact that several other sandstone structures had been toppled "“ smaller ones "“ it was concluded that drunken vandals purposely destroyed the 10,000+ year-old monument. The perpetrators have never been caught, but if they are, they could face 10 years in jail and $250,000 in fines.

jeffrey

8. Jeffrey Pine at Sentinel Dome in Yosemite is probably most famous from the photography of Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins. We're lucky that they saw fit to record the gnarled pine for posterity, because the four-centuries-old tree fell to the ground in 2003. It's a wonder the tree stayed erect that long, actually "“ it died during a drought in 1977, despite heroic efforts by park rangers to save it by carrying buckets of water out to the remote location. The dead trunk was left there.

fallen apostle

9. One of Australia's Twelve Apostles limestone stacks took an eternal swim in the ocean in July 2005. The rock pillar, which took 20 million years to form, crumbled away into the water right before the very eyes of some tourists photographing the formation. This photo was taken shortly after the fall.

chimney

10. Ah, Chimney Rock, a milestone for Oregon Trail-blazers everywhere. The real ones and the Apple ones, I mean. But should citizens of the United States decide to head west in the future, Chimney Rock probably won't be there to guide the way: the landmark is eroding at an alarmingly fast rate, losing more than 30 feet in the past century and a half. Like the Old Man of the Mountain, Chimney Rock has been preserved on the Nebraska state quarter, so if it does abruptly crumble, at least we can still see it etched in silver. And there's always the Oregon Trail app, I suppose"¦

Did anyone make it to any of these before they bit the dust? Share your experience in the comments. I'm sorry to say I haven't seen any of them!

You can follow Stacy Conradt on Twitter.

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September 3, 2009 - 11:30am
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