Friday, May 1, 2015

Grand Canyon Caverns, Arizona

When there is a cavern tour near me, I definitely want to go. This cavern is on old Route 66 and the only connection it has to the Grand Canyon is some kind of rock formation that allows fresh air from the Grand Canyon to somehow sift into this cavern. The main cavern area is about 220' under ground, reached in 60 seconds by the elevator.
The man who discovered it in the 1920s thought he had a gold mine - literally, he thought there was gold and silver in it. He purchased the land before he was told that his samples that were sent off for evaluation didn't include anything valuable. He decided to get some of his money back by giving tours, sending people down on the end of a rope with matches.  It's really totally dark down there.

Shown below is a display, which was covered with glass, of one of the most delicate crystal formations in the cavern.
This isn't the typical cavern tour, there aren't any stalactites or stalagmites, it's pretty much all rock with crystals and limestone formations. It's very dry, only 6% humidity, therefore things that have been in there for years are pretty well preserved. Bob, the bobcat. who fell in the cavern some time in the late 1800s and broke his hip was found mummified and remains part of the tour. There was also a sloth who fell in the cavern about 12,000 years ago. When he was discovered, the authorities in Tuscon gathered him up for research. There is a replica of him still in the cavern, also part of the tour. Near the replica, you can see scratches on the wall of the cavern where he tried to get out, but there was nothing to grab onto.

One of the strangest things found in the cavern is a supply of bomb shelter supplies left over from the 1960s after the Cuba incident. The tour guide told me that all caverns in the U. S. were declared bomb shelters and then sent supplies. There are still medical kits, round black canisters of water and square tins of food as well as military MREs. And sanitation kits - basically a pail with a seat on it and a few rolls of toilet paper. She said that only the dry caverns have held onto their supplies.

The cavern is available for rent for private functions, and there have been some weddings down in the cavern. Brides have left their bouquets there, which are nicely preserved, and other items as a reminder.  And you can even spend the night.  Supposedly, it's haunted and there is a ghost tour in the evenings, if anyone is so inclined.

I sure am glad I got there early and did the 9 AM tour. When we got out of the elevator from the cavern, there were well over 100 5th graders waiting for their tour!


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