Natural Bridge, VA - Governor Terry McAuliffe accepted the deed for historic Natural Bridge Monday which moves the landmark closer to becoming a state park.
Over the past three decades the walk to Natural Bridge was a little different for Angelo Puglisi than it is on this day... his last day as the owner of the 215 foot landmark once owned by King George III and Thomas Jefferson.
"It's fulfilling a dream because no more are we going to have to worry about who is going to wind up owning this. Not going to be a circus ground. Not going to be a carnival. It's going to be exactly what it is; for perpetuity," said Puglisi.
Puglisi, the son of poor Sicilian immigrants, shrugs off the accolades he's getting. He says the move to give the bridge to the park service was an easy choice to make. Others see the move as nothing less than the move of an American hero.
"Mr. Puglisi, who decided to do the right thing and not take profits off the table but preserve for generations to come... on behalf of all of us Virginians we thank him," said Governor McAuliffe after accepting the deed.
Regardless how the very complex deal happened the deal is done. The bridge and nearly 200 acres preserved forever. A gift from a first generation American that refuses to forget from where he came from. A man convinced this gesture means much more than the actual landmark itself.
"It's a tie-in to the Founding Fathers. I felt like I was honoring my parents and millions of other people that made the trip (to America)," said Puglisi.
In all, the bridge plus 188 acres was donated and immediately put into a private conservation easement that will revert to the Commonwealth in coming years.
An additional 1,400 acres, also owned by Puglisi, was purchased by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Trust using a loan by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for $9.1 million dollars.