Monday, July 20, 2009

Natural Bridge Caverns

I don't know about any of you, but I'm not much of a cave lover. You will never catch me spelunking due to the fact that I am afraid that either something is going to cave in (no pun intended) or I'd get stuck in some small place that I'd have to work through. It nearly makes me sweat thinking about it --- and the funny thing is I'm not usually claustrophobic.
I figured we were safe to go through a tour in a cave though. Plus the walkways were wide enough that none of us were going to get stuck in anything.

This is the original entrance to the caverns. When they were starting to explore and create safe walkways, this was the only way to enter. It took about 3-1/2 hours to slide through an opening of about 20 inches to get to where we were standing. Luckily they created a man-made entrance that only took a couple of minutes to walk to the same area!!!

See that hole in the rock?
The caverns are made of limestone. For the workers to make bigger walkways, they had to weaken the limestone by drilling holes. The perfect circular holes were made with machines, but there were some along the way that were jagged that were done by hand in the 1820s.

Here are some of the cave deposits. All creations under the earth in this area are due to water. This is a "live" wall because there is water flowing. We went into one room that had dry walls know as "dead" limestone. It won't be creating any more stalactites or stalagmites because there is no water to drip.
Do you know the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite? Stalactites cling "tightly" to the ceiling of the cave while stalagmites "might" make it to the ceiling.

Here is a natural drainage hole. They're throughout all of the caverns in this mountain. Thank goodness, because if we didn't have them, we would have been swimming in pretty deep and cold water!
Speaking of cold... the air temperature in the caverns are a constant 54 degrees. I bet the old workers were sick a lot since it's damp and chilly ALL the time.

This is a picture of the end of the tour --- where the lights are, there is another small opening to another room that opens into other caverns. Perhaps one day Natural Bridge will close down the caverns to do some more exploring in the future.
We also entered a room that had a huge crevass to look up to the ceiling. We were nearly 350 feet below the earth's surface. That was the most drastic of all ceilings.
There was also a room called the Waterfall Room. There is no longer a waterfall because the flood of '85 flooded the caverns for months and changed the way water rushed in the mountain.
Who knew a flood on top of the earth could change things under the earth so drastically?

This looks like a man-made wall --- and it was. When one of the companies that were digging and exploring were working, they didn't want to carry all of the rubble back out of the original entrance, so they stacked as much as they could in places that it would fit.

We had a great time and will likely go back once the boys have grown up more and forgotten what was in there.

1 comment:

shortino said...

Went spelunking once with scouts (necessary to use ropes and harneses and all) and really enjoyed it. Did some dinking around at school too.

For me, I think some claustrophobia would probably set in if I were squeezing through a pass and I couldn't see where it opens up. Haven't really tested that theory.