Luray Caverns, an array of spectacular limestone caves, is located in a town called Luray in North-west Virginia, USA. The caverns were discovered by five local men way back on August 13, 1878. It covers an area of 64 acres and is the largest caverns in Eastern America. In 1978 Luray Caverns was made the US Natural Landmark. The temperature inside the caverns stays consistent throughout the year at 10 degrees centigrade.
The history behind the formation
Although the caverns were discovered in 1878 their formation happened millions of years ago. The creation is mainly attributed to the underground rivers and the seepage of rain waters into the soil. As the waters passed through the soil it mixed up with the diluted carbonic acid.
The acid bearing water percolated through the layers of limestone and clay in the soil. It dissolved and constantly eroded the layers along its way. The water reached the underground surface of the earth to form huge chambers. The calcium carbonate, an active ingredient in agricultural lime, released carbon dioxide in the air inside the cave. This lead to the formation of the stalactites.Electronics
The stalactites underwent further erosion to transform into various shapes, offering a spectacular display inside the caverns.
Inside the Caverns
The caverns are illuminated inside with the paved walking paths to trek around for almost 1 hour. The view is mesmerizing with the height of the chambers ranging from 30 to 140 feet. The entire route is well connected with stairs, doors, and bridges. There is an audio guide describing the history and the details of the structures inside.Electronics
Dream Lake and Silver Sea are the two streams of water bodies inside the caverns. Dream Lake is the largest expanding over an area of 2,500 square feet and is not more than 18 to 20 inches deep. The reflection of the translucent calcites and shimmering draperies on the crystal clear sparkling waters inside the majestic chambers is a unique experience.
The tallest of all the columns are named as The Towering Icon. The height of the column is almost 47 feet formed by the fusion of stalactite and stalagmite, the marvelous formations inside the caves.
The Luray Singing Tower is located at the entrance of the caverns reaching a height of almost 117 feet. The carillon is filled up rhythmic fantasy with 47 bells of different sizes and weights. The most entertaining and amazing aspect is the Great Stalacpipe Organ. The organ is an amazing invention to produce sounds of tones resembling different musical instruments through the beaming stalactites. It is a lithopone with plungers tapping on almost 37 stalactites creating an amusing melodious atmosphere. You can easily find the resemblance with the sound of chiming bells or the tinkling of the tuning forks or the soft notes of the xylophones.
The Saracen’s Tent is another interesting calcite formation. During the Middle Ages, Saracen was referred to an Arabian tribe dwelling in the Sinai Peninsula. The formation resembles the tent which the tribe used for their living.
The Titania’s Veil offers an ecstatic display of magical light and dark effect of the formations. The white calcite stone creates a contrasting effect with the dark stone beside it.
The Wishing Well is present at the end of the entrance of the cavern. It is a natural water pool and is marked as the war memorial for the veterans of Page County. People drop coins inside the green clear 6 feet deep water and make a wish. The coin collection started in 1950. The coins are cleared once in a year, for donations to charities.
The Journey through the Caverns
You need to walk through the meandering curves of the pathway to reach the different parts of the caverns. As you walk past the splendid massive formations you will find the Dream Lake, the Towering Icon, The Saracen’s Tent, The Titania’s Veil, Silver Sea, and the Great Stalactite Organ.Electronics
The pathway would eventually lead to the Wishing Well. You will cross the Fried Eggs stone formation to reach a small passage and finally to the entrance.
The formations are well protected from tourists with proper railings and guards. The walk is quite pleasant and will entice you every moment with the artistic natural calcite formations. The entire stretch covers a distance of 1.5 miles.
Outside the Caverns
At the end your journey you can stop over a few places of interest. You can visit the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum displaying vintage cars. The Luray Valley Museum is located nearby. You can visit the Museum if you are interested to get acquainted with the rich history of the Shenandoah valley.
Luray Caverns with its myriad display of breathtaking stone patterns has been attracting millions of visitors. It is a must place to visit in Virginia.