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7.28.2016

Lincoln Caverns: Exploring Beauty in the Depths of Pennsylvania

Today we visit Lincoln Caverns, a family institution based around a geologic wonder. Want to go some place to cool down during the brutal summer heat? Lincoln Caverns is a great place to go for that. The caves remain around roughly 50 degrees fahrenheit year-round, making for a great place to go and cool off beneath the surface in Pennsylvania. The namesake, Lincoln Caverns, is only one of the two show caves on the property, making this a rare place where you are able to visit two different show caves under one admission. The formations and the overall awesomeness of exploring these caves make this place a must for you to visit.
The caverns were found by accident in 1930 while they were constructing the historic William Penn Highway/Route 22. The original owners were farmers and opened the caves as the 'Hi-Way-May Caverns.' They had it open for only one season, and they put it up for sale. Myron Dunlavy Sr. was a working man whose day job was with a telephone company, but had a stake in the entertainment business, being involved in vaudeville, a circus, operating an amusement park, and more. One of his odd-jobs was in liquor enforcement in the Prohibition era. He would often find illegal stills in caverns, and as a result of this job, he gained an appreciation for these underground wonders. He even went as far as to put out advertisements asking if anyone had any caverns for sale. This lead him to lease and eventually purchase what would become Lincoln Caverns. 
Now we will descend into the depths of Pennsylvania. We were lead by Evan, an extremely knowledgeable and passionate tour guide.
Descending!
Into the limestone and calcite mineral formation wonderland of Lincoln Caverns!
The calcite formations within the caves are absolutely stunning. They only get more spectacular as the tour proceeds.
The cave also seems to get larger and larger as you proceed as well.
Notice the wire-like shapes towards the top of that rock. Those are tree roots that have found their way this deep into the cave.
Simply spectacular formations
This room was the original entry way into the cave, and it was also the place where they discovered the caverns during the original construction of the William Penn Highway/Route 22 through the area.
This is the grand view that captured the imagination of visitors and helped make Lincoln Caverns a viable venture for the better part of a century.
The formations look like a giant frozen waterfall. It takes 120 years for one cubic inch of these formations to grow, so you can only imagine how long it took for these to form. This is one of my favorite sections in the cave.
This is where you really begin to descend into the cave system. The height in this section, couple with how skinny it is, makes for spectacular sights at this site.
We were having a blast touring the caverns!
"The Wishing Well"
Jabba the Hut?

Our tour guide Evan did a fantastic job. He was so enthusiastic, passionate, and knowledgeable about the caves. His energy really made this tour. Photo by Ed Stoddard.
Cave bacon! These calcite formations get more and more elaborate as the tour goes on.
The calcite has different looks depending upon the lighting.
Our last view of Lincoln Caverns as we ascend to ground level and head to the next cavern, Whisper Rocks, just a few hundred feet up from Lincoln.
Hmmmm, what is this? We will find out soon! Myron Sr. had a young son as he was getting started with the cave. Myron Jr as a teenager had determined that there had to be another cave on the property, so he went about exploring and found a sinkhole and noticed that the snowfall in the area of the sinkhole had melted, suggesting that the warmer air from a cave was in the area. He eventually broke through into the cave, and found Whisper Rocks. 
Here is the entry way into Whisper Rocks. It took twenty years to get the cave cleared out and ready for touring to the public. At the portal, you can see Evan, our knowledgeable tour guide.
The first view into the cavern. Whisper Rocks was named for the whispering sound that can emanate through the caverns. On a windy day you can hear a whistling sound from where the wind is able to creep in.
The formations within this cave are more intact within this cavern compared to Lincoln, for they realized how much preservation and care needed to be done.
I told you that the cave bacon gets better as the tour goes on!
This is probably my favorite area within Whisper Rocks
You can see the scale of this large room when compared to the height of the guests at the bottom of this picture.


The same light breezes that create the whispering sound in the cave, make the formations grow a slightly sideways.
A seashell fossil in the roof of the cavern, harking back to a time when Pennsylvania had a completely different climate.
Now we've headed out of the cave and headed out onto some of the trails that go throughout the cave property. This is the Sinkhole Trail. It leads towards the sinkhole in which Myron Dunlavy Jr discovered the Whisper Rocks cave. It took three years of digging for him to get into the cave. What is apparent throughout this property is that it was a labor of love for the Dunlavy family. Ann Dunlavy has spent more than four decades at the caverns. It's been in her family for the better part of a century. They are constantly working to teach visitors about the caverns and geology. This institution provides educational tours for students, girl and boy scouts, and more. They do activities such as measuring the CO2 levels in each room to measure the rate of formation growth and much more. The service that this place does for the community and for learners of all ages is amazing.
In addition to hiking, tent camping, educational opportunities, and more, they have gem panning. This is such a quiet and fun place to take in the Pennsylvania's buried beauty. The spectacular sights, along with the many passionate people that curate the caverns, make this a must-see attraction for everyone. The caves are conveniently located in the Raystown Lake Region, right on the historic Route 22 William Penn Highway corridor just west of Huntingdon, PA. For more information about the caverns, be sure to check out their website, www.lincolncaverns.com


We were hosted by Lincoln Caverns and the Huntingdon County Visitor Bureau. We have shared our opinions about this great place.

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