Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 2 - Linville Caverns.

After driving over 400 miles on Friday, Mr. Hawthorne and I headed off Saturday morning to our first destination point- Linville Caverns, which lie deep inside Humpback Mountain, seen in the background.
We stopped along the way so I could take a video. A train was nice enough to provide ambiance.
Road to Linville Caverns.
This is the stream right outside of Linville Caverns.
While waiting for our guided tour to begin, I shot a few pictures of the area.
There's a little stream coming out of the caverns with trout. This is right at the entrance to the caverns.
Linville Caverns, North Carolina's only show caverns, were discovered by a fisherman, Henry E. Colton, in 1822, when he noticed trout swimming in and out of the mountain and he started looking to see where the fish were going. There was a small opening in the mountainous terrain which allowed the fish to enter the subterranean recess that is still home to native trout in an underground stream.
Blind rainbow trout.
Colton, who later served as the state geologist of Tennessee, wrote of his exploration: " began the wondrous splendors of the hidden world...we emerged into an immense passage, whose roof was far beyond the reach of the glare of our torches, except where the fantastic festoons of stalactites hang down within our touch. It looked like the arch of some grand old cathedral, yet it was too sublime, too perfect in all its beautiful proportions, to be anything of human, but a model which man might attempt to imitate. It was not a large, gross cavern,...pendants were of a delicate lightness, and a most beautiful hue..."
The caverns were opened for public touring in 1937. Recently, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has closed numerous undeveloped caves frequented by spelunkers to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome in bat colonies. The recent closings do not apply to Linville Caverns or other commercial caverns. The small number of bats that hibernate in Linville are not infected and are monitored on a daily basis. The caverns maintain a consistent 52 degree temperature year round, allowing a unique ecosystem to exist inside. Linville Caverns remain active as mineral deposits continue to form the stalactites and stalagmites. The mineral rich water produced by Humpback Mountain, with its carbon dioxide, created the caverns by dissolving limestone and dolomite, thus creating natural labyrinthine passageways into the mountain. Our guide showed us one area of clear water, a bottomless pool, the depth of which has never been measured. Researchers and scientists have tried to determine where the bottom lies but have not been able to. Divers have explored the pool also and have not been able to reach the bottom. Enjoy the pictures of Linville Caverns.
This is a hibernating Eastern Pipistrelle Bat.
In the 1860's American Civil War deserters from both sides used the caverns as a hideout. Two soldiers were hiding out and having a camp fire at this spot. They were later captured after soldiers on top of the caverns saw smoke coming out of the ground.
This is not for the claustrophobic.
A little cave humor.
You can see here where the water table used to be.
Mr. Hawthorne, of course, had to stop at the Linville Mountain Gem Shop.
I wanted this little pretty, but Mr. Hawthorne wouldn't buy it for me. It was only $1600.
I wanted something to bring home with me but it's awfully hard to choose.
I decided on this pretty amethyst geode.
And this one.
And this pretty quartz crystal.
Mr. Hawthorne likes his gold nuggets and he picked out this 6.85 gram piece.
If you look carefully on the top in the recesses, you'll see quartz crystal.
Mr. Hawthorne so wanted to stop at a gold panning place, buy a bucket of rocks, start panning, and sneak in his nugget just to see the expression on the proprietor's face when he "discovered" gold.
Up in the mountains, you'll see a lot of these "runaway" truck stops. Enjoy the scenery as we head off to Asheville.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.