These images scanned from original glass plate negatives recently came out of an estate sale in Massachusetts. They show early-1890s views of the Natural Bridge and springs on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. This would have been during the tail end of a spiritist tourism boom on the mountain and the nearby Natural Bridge Springs Hotel. You can read more about this area’s history here.
Telephone Rock is out of the frame and to the left of this image but is seen in the glass plate below.
Telephone Rock is a huge rock pierced by a small hole. When speaking through its aperture, the voice at the opposite end emulates the sound of the voice coming over an old telephone.
The Natural Bridge Springs Hotel (McCullough Hotel) (1884)
Initially built by Joseph B. McCullough, the hotel changed names to the Natural Bridge Hotel in 1884 when the Southern Spiritualists Association purchased it.
The hotel was advertised as a spiritualist retreat, hosting most of the well-known spiritualist of the era. Guests were treated to lectures and séances. As a result of peak popularity in spiritualism, an octagon-shaped meetinghouse with a capacity to host 500 guests was constructed. Over the next few years, interest drastically declined, and the venture was abandoned and sold in the early-1890s. The hotel would soon close because of ever-increasing competition.