Note: Here is a story about an amazing Kentucky attraction from our days as fulltime RVers.
Kentucky is cave country. While the landscape is beautiful above ground with mountains, pastures, forests, and charming small towns, underneath all that is a vast honeycomb of spectacular cave formations, from small caverns one can barely squeeze through on hands and knees to the magnificent Mammoth Cave, which is part of Mammoth Cave National Park, the granddaddy of them all. And while I prefer to spend my living years above ground, once in a while an underground excursion is interesting.
And almost next door to Mammoth Cave is Diamond Caverns, a natural beauty in its own right. For over 154 years visitors have toured what many consider to be Kentucky’s most spectacular cave. Discovered by a slave who was the property of landowner Jessie Coats in July, 1859, at first sight he thought the cave’s sparkling calcite formations were diamonds, and the place has been called Diamond Cave ever since. Recognizing the importance of the cave’s beauty, Coats immediately sent a survey team in to check it out.
Work began immediately to develop the cave for tours, and a month later the first visitors were given a tour. Except for short periods during the Civil War, the cave has been an attraction ever since.
The caverns have passed through a number of owners through the years. most of them making improvements to create a perfect visitor experience. Today, state-of-the-art lighting illuminates the cave’s dramatic formations and intricate drapery deposits lining the halls in cascades of naturally colorful calcite. Thousands of these formations decorate the cave’s massive chambers.
Guided half-mile long tours are offered every 20 – 30 minutes throughout the day from April through Labor Day. Fall and winter tours are offered daily on a shorter schedule. Pathways are concrete, with handrails provided where necessary for safety.
Most of the rock you see in the cave is limestone, which formed eons ago when this part of the land was covered by a warm, shallow sea. Later, as the sea’s water receded, an underground river created the cave’s passageways, and stalactites and stalagmites began to form, creating the impressive displays we see today. Diamond Caverns is a “living cave” in that formations are still being created. But don’t stick around expecting to see any growth, it takes decades for even the smallest of changes to occur.
One nine inch tall stalagmite from the cave has been studied by scientists who can actually date the calcite layers. The youngest part of it at the top is approximately 170,000 years old, and the bottom is roughly 306,000 years old. Based upon these dates, this stalagmite took 136,000 years to grow a mere nine inches!
You probably don’t have that much free time in your schedule, but that’s okay, the hour long cave tour will still give you memories to last a lifetime. Tour guides are very knowledgeable and provide an educational and informative tour. Questions are welcomed.
The cave remains a comfortable 58 degrees year-round, which feels cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plan to wear comfortable, supportive walking shoes for the tour. The tour is considered moderately strenuous, with about 350 stair steps scattered throughout the cave. To preserve it in as much a natural state as possible, Diamond Caverns is not handicapped accessible. Adult admission is $22, children ages 4-12 are $11, and group rates are available.
Diamond Caverns is located at 1900 Mammoth Cave Parkway, in Park City, Kentucky, just off Interstate 65, Exit 48. There is room for any size RV to park, and there is a full-service campground across the street, as well as camping at Mammoth Cave National Park. For more information, including seasonal hours, call (270) 749-2233 or visit their website at http://diamondcaverns.com.
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Watching Over Me: A Psychological Thriller, the first book in the heart-racing Crime After Crime series by M K Farrar and M.A. Comley. Trust me, this British crime writing duo know how to keep readers on the edge of their seats from the first page to the last!
To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – Time to get up and get going. Today’s bad decisions aren’t going to make themselves.