My son and his family live in Virginia and I try to get up there for visits every year. Virginia is such a pretty place; the biggest drawback being 900 bazillion people live/work there and they all drive 90 mph on the various highways (I am always happy to sit in the backseat with my eyes closed). That little thing aside, the countryside is lovely and the entire state just oozes history. A large number of my family ancestors are from there (from the 1600’s until they all moved further south) and one of these days I’ll remember to take my genealogy stuff and look for more information and graves and such.
On one trip we went to the Luray Cavern, which is a really big hole in the ground with rocks and dirt, cement and other heavy things on top of it. Just being told about it put my claustrophobia on alert. Still, couldn’t run screaming the other direction in front of the grandchildren, so off we went.
Now, if you haven’t been there, the caverns are in the Shenandoah Valley, just west of the Blue Ridge in the Appalachian Mountains in Luray, Virginia. My first impression of the staircase down into the cavern was a shaking rickety affair, packed with thousands of other people. Of course, it’s not like that at all although there was a huge line of people in front of me and a huge line behind me.
Just a little history: Luray Cavern is the largest cavern in the eastern US. It was discovered in 1878 by a group of men whose attention had been attracted by a large limestone boulder and a nearby sinkhole that had cool air coming from it. One man squeezed through a small hole, slid down a rope and went exploring by candlelight (foolish man).
The caverns were opened for tours, by candlelight, just a few months later (no, no, no, no – down what probably was rickety steps in a long skirt – nope, no, that’s just wrong!!!!!). It didn’t get electric light and paved walkways until the early 1900’s.
Luray is a "live" cave, which means its formations collectively grow about a cubic inch every 120 years. It was designated a Registered Natural Landmark in 1974, therefore it can have no garish colored lights and no exploring off the designated paths (only a third of the cave is open to the public).
The cavern is just beautiful. They do have specific areas carefully lighted so visitors can clearly see the unusual and lovely stone formations. And, although it’s a hole in the ground, it is a huge hole in the ground. Still, I think I would have been happier if there have just been the five of us and 3 other people down there.
This is a reflection of the ceiling in water
Yep – that’s money
The ultimate Wishing Well
Luray Caverns – you should put this on your “I want to visit …..” list. It is well worth it!