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The waxy buildup at Natural Bridge Wax Museum has been accumulating for some time.
The attraction is actually two for the price of one: a "Factory Tour" in the basement, and the finished wax displays in the museum above. It's in the factory that the passing decades instantly become apparent, as you enter through a subterranean hallway lit with porno-purple lights and lined with hundreds of wax heads of the famous and forgotten.
It's a nightmarish introduction, since the heads have no hair or eyeballs and are wrapped in clear plastic bags displayed behind wire mesh. Instructive, too; we never realized that George Bush, Melvin Purvis, and Mad Anthony Wayne looked so much alike without eyes or hair.
The factory was abandoned when we visited; no people, just TV monitors to guide us through the displays of body parts being assembled by wax dummies in artist smocks. One video tutorial featured an improvised narration from the point of view of a dummy. "Easy! Watch my vital organs!" "Oh! They're giving me skin!" "Back into the oven I go!" One of the wax artisans had the head of no-longer-newsworthy presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. We imagine reporters from Washington, DC, using Natural Bridge Wax Museum as a barometer of political vitality; how much longer before Al Gore and John McCain end up in its basement?
Upstairs, the museum's dioramas mix regional lore with occasional nods to the Bible. Visitors enter at the Garden of Eden, then encounter an Indian either frozen in horror at the instant of falling off the Natural Bridge, or emotionally imploring the Great Spirit to inflict a similar fate on his foes. George Washington makes an appearance chiseling his initials into the Bridge's underpass (it's not graffiti -- it's history!), and so do local characters William "Big Foot" Wallace and Archibald "Bar" Tolley, the latter locked in a death battle at the Bridge with an angry bear (Tolley wins).