In April, 2002, Genelle and I did some travelling together around parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. We love touring caverns and Virginia has several, so we made sure to visit a couple of them. Luray Caverns and Skyline Caverns are both in the foothills of the Shenandoah Valley and are less than an hour's drive from Washington, DC.
Skyline Caverns
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The Skyline Caverns in Front Royal, VA, are fairly small and not particularly impressive compared to many other caverns we have toured. However, they are one of the few places in the world where anthodites are viewable by the public. Anthodites, sometimes called "Orchids of the mineral kingdom", are extremely rare and geologists have never figured out how they form. They remind me of small, colorful sea urchins (the largest anthodite in these pictures has spines about 3-inches long).
Luray Caverns
The Luray Caverns in Luray, VA, are the largest caverns on the East Coast and are the most beautiful caverns we have ever toured. The colors are amazing and the columns are huge - even larger than those we saw in Carlsbad Caverns. Unfortunately, my pictures of the largest columns did not turn out. Many of the formations in the Luray Caverns are still actively growing and have that "wet look".
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To give some idea of size in these pictures, the columns in the left picture are about three feet in diameter and 20 feet tall. The huge wall of flowstone in the center picture is about 15 feet high and 30 feet wide. The "upside down ice cream cone" formation is fairly small at 18 inches diameter and 3 feet tall.
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According to the National Geographic Society, the Luray Caverns has some of the most perfectly formed "translucent" drapery formations known. This "bath towel" is my favorite. This formation is the actual size of a large bath towel including the 4 inch hem.
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The two pictures on the left are of a formation called the Fish Market for obvious reasons. The dangling "fish" are about 12 to 16 inches long. The white flowstone formation on the right is about 24 inches wide at the base and 6 feet tall.
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The two pictures on the left are of the world's only stalac-pipe organ. When a stalactite is tapped, it vibrates to a specific pitch - much like a tuning fork. In 1957, the inventor searched through several acres of the cave around the large chamber where the organ console is located to find as many different notes as possible. He designed plungers with rubber tips that tap the stalactite when it's corresponding key is pressed on the console. There is a small microphone at each location to amplify the quiet tones which are played through speakers hidden in the cavern chamber. This organ is recognized by the Guiness Book of Records as "the world's largest natural musical instrument".

The column on the right was named "The Ghost" by the cave discoverers because it could be seen from several different locations in the caverns and seemed to hover in space when viewed from a distance.
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Finally, some pictures of the mirror lake. This is actually a pretty large body of water, roughly half an acre, but it's very shallow - just a few inches. It is so still that it perfectly reflects the roof of the cave in the water below.
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