Friday, July 13, 2012

Shenandoah Caverns - Quicksburg, VA

by Donna L. Watkins

Although July 4th was scheduled to be a hot day in the Shenandoah Valley, we had plans to visit a few places that we had not seen. Since Virginia has cool evenings and mornings, we decided to leave at 6:05 AM to enjoy that cool of the day. After having some great oatmeal and a muffin at Cracker Barrel, we headed for Meems Covered Bridge since we didn't have to wait for that place to be open.

The highlight of the day was to see the Shenandoah Caverns which have been open to the public since 1922. Neither of us are especially enthralled with caverns, but it was 1995 since we'd been to any and that was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

© Donna L. Watkins - Shenandoah Caverns
By the time the day began heating up, we were at the entrance to the caverns where we'd have 56 degree temperature underground. We actually took a long-sleeved shirt to wear which seemed really odd during this heat wave that we are having here.

The caverns were really amazing and much more exciting than Mammoth Cave. The lighting they had allowed me to photograph without the flash.

The history of Shenandoah Caverns is intertwined with that of the beautiful and historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the Native Americans who once populated and traversed the Valley.

Most caverns in the Shenandoah Valley formed as water trickled through tiny cracks in the stone, dissolving the lime, enlarging the cracks. The cracks became crevices, then channels, and finally, tunnels. The formation of Shenandoah Caverns was a bit different. Shenandoah Caverns' spectacular formations resulted from this movement of water, but, as the great inland sea receded, violent earthquakes also created faults that hastened and changed the caverns' formation.

The beautiful flowstone, unique bacon formations and the thousands of stalactite and stalagmite formations are the result of water moving through limestone, picking up infinitesimal amounts of lime and depositing it inside the cavern.

© Donna L. Watkins - Main Street of Yesteryear
The coloring of the cavern comes from pigments of iron, magnesium and other minerals through which the water seeps. The limestone deposits themselves are snow white.

View the Shenandoah Caverns photo album which also includes a ground level exhibit called, "Main Street of Yesteryear" which opened in 1996. It's a chance to step back in time to when families visited Main Streets across America at holiday time to view elaborate, animated department store window displays.

Earl C. Hargrove, the owner of Shenandoah Caverns has collected and restored many of the same holiday window displays Americans saw at prominent department stores during much of the 20th century.

The Yellow Barn is another building/exhibit offered with admission to Shenandoah Caverns. It give you a whimsical look at our agricultural heritage and rural life with historical displays that include restored antique farm wagons, equipment, carriages and vehicles.

Resources: Weekend Oasis and Shenadoah Caverns Website

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Allison Dugan said...

Dear Donna, thank you for this beautifully written review of your time at Shenandoah Caverns! I'm glad you went to see Meems Bottom Bridge, I love rolling the window down and smelling the cedar! I also enjoy approaching it from both directions, a very special place! I also want to thank you for posting a review on Trip Advisor as well! Please contact me next time you plan to visit anywhere in the Shenandoah Valley, I will try to connect you with more special places that you would enjoy - like the White Oak Lavender farm nearby. Sincerely, Allison Dugan. (Director of Marketing at Shenandoah Caverns)

sharingsunshine said...

We've actually visited White Oak Lavender Farm a year earlier on the 2nd of July. We live over in Fluvanna County so it's a great day trip area! Thanks for your appreciation. I love to share great travel news!

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