Usually the ladies and I would head to the beach for the holidays, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. So we headed underground, making a day trip to Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Mountains.
On the lawn there’s a construction of the word LOVE made of wood. Nothing quite as world renowned as the one in Philadelphia, but quite popular as everyone was taking pictures with it.
We got there sometime after 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Mistake. The line was so long that if we didn’t drive a couple of hours to get there, we would’ve left. I was okay with heading back and stopping by Skyline Caverns, another cavern we saw on the way to Luray.
But, Nduku volunteered to stand in line, which took close to an hour to get to the door, while I took Najwa to the Toy Store. There was a huge train display with a miniature city. There were sections broken up in decades of the popular toys at that time. Anyone remember the Cabbage Patch dolls?
Luckily they had a small play area with wooden train cars and a track to keep Najwa preoccupied while we waited.
But we made it to the caverns. There really isn’t much you can say about them. You just have to visit and experience it yourself. It was discovered in 1878 but were formed [or started its forming] 4 million years ago.
There are a number of formations in the rocks with cool names, cool histories and cool myths/stories to go along with them, but the place was crowded and Najwa wasn’t one to sit still listening to the tour guides explaining everything. Some of the photos I are of some of those places. They have names such as Totem Poles, Tatiana’s Veil, Pluto’s Chasm, Saracen’s Tent and so forth.
If no one would’ve said anything, I would’ve walked right past this one. “Dream Lake” is Luray Caverns’ largest body of water, but it’s no more than 18 to 20 inches deep. But it’s not the shallowness that hides it, it’s the perfectly still water creating a mirror image of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
And then there’s the organ without pipes.
Located in the Cathedral is the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument. Stalactites covering 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets. This one-of-a-kind instrument was conceived by Mr. Leland W. Sprinkle of Springfield, Virginia, a mathematician and electronics scientist at the Pentagon. After visiting the caverns with his son and experiencing the organ-like sounds of a stalactite being tapped, Mr. Sprinkle submitted a complex plan for a stalactite-tapping instrument. It took 36 years of frustrating research, design and experimentation to bring his dream to its present state of perfection. Three years alone were spent searching the vast chambers of the caverns to select and carefully sand stalactites to precisely match the musical scale. Only two stalactites were found to be in tune naturally.
The four-keyboard console of The Great Stalacpipe Organ was constructed by the Klann Organ Supply Company of Waynesboro, Virginia, to meet the peculiar needs of this subterranean installation. Then the organ was connected to various stalactites with over five miles of wiring. Today, the organ, featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, plays a variety of songs, many chosen for their range and deep, resonate tones. Visitors stand enthralled as haunting melody and chords reverberate through the vaulted ceilings. The songs, which are played by an automated system, change seasonally. The organ can also be played manually from the console, as Leland Sprinkle did for many years.
It was a good day.