Guide to the Natural Bridge, Virginia Sepia Photograph, circa 1880

Summary Information

Title: Natural Bridge, Virginia Sepia Photograph, circa 1880
Collection: AC.479
Extent: 0.01 linear feet (1 folder)

The Natural Bridge, Virginia Sepia Photograph collection contains an 8x10 sepia-toned photograph of the Natural Bridge in Virginia, signed by Miley, Lexington, VA, circa 1880.

Creator: Miley, Michael, 1841-1918

Biographical/Historical Note

This photograph of the Natural Bridge in Virginia was taken by Michael Miley of Lexington, Virginia, who was General Robert E. Lee's photographer. Although darkened by age, the image is quite clear.

Raised on a farm in Rockbridge County, Michael Miley (1841-1918) was twenty-five and a Confederate veteran when he followed Robert E. Lee to Lexington in 1866 and opened a photographic studio there. He had learned the craft only a year earlier, in Staunton. Miley's son would later write that his father considered Lee the greatest man that ever lived and General Lee liked Father. The friendship and trust that developed between the two allowed Miley to produce some of the most engaging portraits ever made of Lee.

The general influenced his photographer's choice of subjects. Lee's enthusiasm for the scenery of Rockbridge County encouraged Miley to photograph the local landscape. Miley also recorded on glass plates Lee family documents, paintings, and other personal effects, to ensure their survival for future biographers. Copying oil portraits of the Lee family prompted his successful experimentation with color photography. Among Miley's earliest views of Lexington are those of the funeral of Lee, in 1870.

Scope and Contents

This collection features a Natural Bridge, Virginia Photograph, circa 1880, 8″ x 10, sepia toned, by Miley of Lexington, Virginia. It is posted to cardstock which is wearing around the edges.


There is no formal arrangement to this single-item collection.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

This collection was purchased from Bookworm and Silverfish in 2009. Accession number AC.2009.015

Processing Information

Processed by Anita Elliott, July 2013. This collection was processed as part of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant funded extensive processing of the backlog within the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection between 2012 and 2014.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.479: Natural Bridge, Virginia Sepia Photograph, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Container List

Photograph, circa 1880 ACSC_Box 22, Folder 5