Thursday, December 18, 2014

Journey Behind the Falls

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2011

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On the Canada side of Niagara Falls you can quite literally walk behind them, after an admission fee, of course.  A manmade tunnel was blasted behind the falls and has 2 observation areas.  Observation is used loosely here; all you’re going to be seeing is rushing water.  Visitors are barricaded from the ends of the tunnels.

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It’s also not much of a journey; an elevator brings you down to the tunnel, and the tunnel is not all that long.  It is cool to be standing directly behind the falls, though.  All in all, interesting experience, but something that is likely not a repeat.

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Popularity: 7% [?]

Lockport Cave

Posted by Stu On July - 12 - 2011

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Not content spending our mini-vacation just looking at water, we found some other things to see on the way up to Niagara Falls.  I saw something online about a cave tour with a boat ride not too far away from our destination.  Still on somewhat of a cavern kick (we visited 3 in Pennsylvania over the summer) and being in a part of New York we had never visited before, we figured it’d be worth checking out.  So after seeing the World’s Smallest Church, we were off to Lockport Cave.

The tour starts in what is the old City Hall building; from the inside, it looks like it was more recently a diner.  Here the tours leave.  You get a quick spiel about the canal’s lock system and then it’s off to the cave entrance. You walk down several steps and are led to a large…pipe?

Lockport Cave isn’t actually a cave; it’s completely man made and was blasted out during the mid-1800’s.  It was actually a hydraulic tunnel that ran power to local factories.

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The entrance into the cave is sort of bizarre, as you’re walking down this long tube.  Kind of reminded me of the end of ET a bit.  There is a bit of a walk, and then everyone is piled into a small boat and taken farther into the tunnel.  All in all, decent tour.

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Popularity: 12% [?]

Indian Echo Caverns

Posted by Stu On June - 14 - 2011

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Indian Echo Caverns were the first caverns I ever went to.  I was only 10 or so and the family took a weekend trip to Hershey Park; the caverns are only a few miles away.  Since we were on a cave kick last summer, I decided to revisit Indian Echo to see how it compared to the other ones we went to and also to see if it was as cool as I remembered.  It didn’t disappoint, and out of the 3 caverns we went to last year, Indian Echo was our favorite.

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Indian Echo is significantly larger than other nearby commercialized caves.  As such, the tour is a bit longer, and it just feels like it’s much more worth the admission fee.  There are several rooms you tour.  As with all cave tours I’ve taken, the guide points out formations and what they supposedly look like (i.e., “the ear of corn”).  I also remembered from my childhood visit something about a hermit living in the cave.  This is indeed true, and his “bed” is shown at the end of the tour.  There is also the story of what the Cavern folks call the Mystery Box, a chest of peculiar items allegedly found in the cave by some explorers in 1919.  The box houses such random things as centuries-old coins and an apparent diamond-making kit (it doesn’t work, folks); the box is now displayed in the gift shop.

Despite its name, we were told there is no evidence of “Indians” ever going into the cave.  You can find 200+ year old graffiti inside, however.

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The “Ear of Corn”

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The hermit’s “bed” was this shelf of rock.  He lived in the cave for nearly 2 decades and was found dead in here.

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The Mystery Box.

Popularity: 17% [?]

Lost River Caverns

Posted by Stu On January - 18 - 2011

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Probably the only instance I’ve come across where the gift shop is far more entertaining than the attraction itself.  Lost River Caverns’ gift shop is, for lack of a better word, awesome.  Part of it serves as a mini museum of the most random stuff you can think of, very similar to Space Farms.

Up first we have some scrimshaw:

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Up next we have some guns, angry dead things, and archaeological artifacts completely unrelated to the cavern:

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And then some fossils, at least somewhat related to caves:

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After getting past this unique collection, you head down the stairs to the… WHAT IS THAT?!

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Dinosaurs?  Pirates?  Other random critters?  Oh yeahhhhhhh.

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…oh right.  There’s a cave here supposedly.  We had to wait a bit for the tour to start, so after looking around at all this wacky stuff, I temporarily forgot why I was even there.  We were the only people on this tour, which was nice.  The guide told us the place is called Lost River because, yes, a subterranean river runs through the caverns, and nobody knows where it goes.  Scientists have tried several times to find where, if it even does, reach the surface.  Its source is also unknown.

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Like Howe Caverns, Lost River has an underground chapel.  A number of weddings have taken place here.

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Lost River Caverns is small compared to other caves, but I think it’s still worth a trip.  If you’ve been to other caverns, there’s probably nothing new here for you, but man is that gift shop awesome.

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Popularity: 15% [?]

Crystal Cave

Posted by Stu On January - 18 - 2011

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If you’re in eastern PA, you see quite a few signs on the highways for various caverns.  Over the summer, I decided to check some of  them out; it had been some time since I’d been underground anyway.  We went to both Crystal Cave and Lost River Caverns in the same day.

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Crystal Cave was set up like other caverns I’ve been to; you purchase tickets for the cave (the entrance is elsewhere) in a building that doubles as the gift shop.  From here, you walk uphill to the cave entrance; or if you prefer, you can stop at the restaurant and yet another gift shop farther in the back of the property.

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On top of the small hill, you are led into a small room before touring the cave.  In here, a short (under 10 minutes) video is played explaining the origins/discovery of Crystal Cave.  The group is then brought into the cave.  You’re inside for about half an hour.  Like nearly all cavern tours, there are random stops to point out formations (something I find annoying).  I don’t care what you think a formation looks like.  It’s not a rabbit.  It’s not a witch.  It’s a rock.

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Small pool in the cave.

It’s called Crystal Cave because there are literally crystals everywhere; small calcium crystals are found in the rock and look really cool in the cavern’s artificial lighting.  Unfortunately, digital cameras are terrible underground, so you really can’t see the effect.

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The only formation you’re allowed to touch.  It’s a “dead” formation.

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The only bat we saw.  They generally don’t go in the cave.

All in all, Crystal Cave is a decent family trip.  The actual time spent in the cave is somewhat short, however.  Pretty much your run-of-the-mill cavern – just more sparkly.  Check it out.

Popularity: 27% [?]

The “Cannonball” Tunnel

Posted by Stu On January - 27 - 2008

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I heard about an old railroad tunnel not too far from my house – about 10-15 minutes away. I’m used to having to go 2+ hours to find such things, and now I’m surrounded by them, it seems.

The “Cannonball” was a train that ran from Wilkes-Barre to Hazleton. This particular tunnel runs under Penobscot Mountain. The entrance was completely flooded, so we couldn’t get in this time. I plan on returning. Still, just standing next to the mouth is a humbling experience.

Seeing this place reminded me very much of Manunka Chunk, though I think this one is taller. Manunka Chunk is in much better condition, however. This looks more like a cave than an old railroad tunnel.
Also, no pirates.

This is somewhat accessible from 81 North, but we as usual took the long way in. We walked about 3 miles roundtrip and had to walk around a pond and over a stream, and then up a mountain or 2. On the way, we came across this. No idea what it is.

Ah, our bridge. I can’t count how many times I’ve come across this situation.


Is it sturdy? Only one way to find out.

(Yes, this time it was.)

Popularity: 19% [?]

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