Page 38

Blue Ridge Mountains the nour ishment we needed for heading underground that day. Recognized as eastern America’s largest and most popular caverns, Luray Caverns is just one of several cavern attractions in the area. The U.S. Natural Landmark attracts 3.5 million visitors a year and features the world’s only Stalacpipe Organ, which plays sy mphonic- qua lit y music created by mallets striking stalactites. The caverns are located near Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, and Blue Ridge Parkway. National Geographic calls the caverns “A fairyland in stone.” Hoping to beat the crowds we arrived promptly for the 9 a.m. opening and were part of the second tour that day after a group of Japanese travelers. The 1.5-mile, hour-long guided walk through the caverns on well-lighted, winding, paved walkways with handrails was so stupendous that we immediately wanted to get in line to take another tour of the hidden treasures! The year-round temperature of 54 degrees actually seemed warmer to us, maybe because we stayed on the move through the passages. The fascinating stone formations in the caverns, millions of years in the making, were discovered in 1878. After passing through a series of owners, the caverns were purchased and have been managed by the same family for the last 112

years. The wondrous underground cavern system is festooned with countless stalactites and stalagmites as well as crystal-clear ref lecting pools. There are natural wonders at every turn, including cathedral-sized rooms with tenstory-high ceilings, towering stone columns and, surprising, irregularly shaped formations such as the silly rocks that look like fried eggs. Nate, our enter taining guide, explained that the cave was once in an ancient sea that left behind the caverns when it drained. The formations in the limestone-based Luray Caverns result from water dropping through layers of limestone, soil and other rocks. The precipitate begins as a thin deposit of calciterich drips that creates stalactites 36

Profile for Tidewater Times

Tidewater Times  

January 2019

Tidewater Times  

January 2019