One of the coolest places in West Virginia is about 120 feet below the Earth’s surface. I’m talking about Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg, WV.
Lost World Caverns was discovered in 1942 by the Virginia Polytechnical Institute (now known as Virginia Tech University). It was originally called “Grapevine Cave”. It’s only entrance was a long, vertical drop which farmers in the area used to dump deceased livestock and trash.
The caverns were finally surveyed in the 1960s and it was discovered that it had over a mile of interconnected passages. In 1967 the remains of a prehistoric cave bear were found.
Lost World Caverns Becomes A Tourist Attraction
So after cleaning the garbage out of the cave, an entrance was created that you can easily walk into. A lot of work has been done on lighting. They also have to make sure that the light doesn’t allow the algae in the cave to grow out of control.
A man named Bob Addis set an unofficial World Record for “Stalagmite Sitting” in 1972. He stayed on top of the “Warclub” stalagmite for over 15 days. And in 1992, the tabloid Weekly World News claimed that the cave was the home of the famous “Bat Boy”.
Lost World Caverns Tours
There are two types of tours you can do. The first one, which is what my friend and I did, is the self-guided walking tour. This tour gives you access to a large chamber (about 1,000 feet long, 120 feet high, and 300 feet wide) that has many of the cave’s famous formation. You’ll see the Bridal Veil, Goliath, Ice Cream Wall, and many more.
But more adventurous types can go on the “wild” cave tour which takes you through the areas that are harder to access. On this tour, you’ll see Angel’s Roost, Keyhole, Glitter Pits, and more. Also, if you go on this tour you’ll be required to perform certain sterilization protocols to help protect the bats. Unfortunately, many bats in the area are suffering from white-nose syndrome.
Visiting Lost World Caverns
You might want to bring a light jacket. The temperature inside the caverns is about 52 degrees. They also have a great gift shop and museum that features minerals, geodes, replica fossils, and more.
Here is a picture of the entrance.
This picture turned out a little blurry but these are “hex blocks” which are oddly shaped limestone rocks. They were formed about 320 million years ago when the sea water that was present at the time dried up. Cracks were formed in the muddy seafloor as it dried. These later became hex blocks.
This is the formation known as “The Bridal Veil”. It’s really pretty and in person, it sparkles because it’s made of white calcite crystals.
This is the “Ice Cream Wall”. This picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s made of calcite (which looks like vanilla), iron oxides (chocolate and butterscotch), and manganese (licorice). The green color is due to the overgrowth of algae. (The artificial light in the cave makes it grow like crazy.)
Unfortunately, we didn’t see any bats while we were there but we did see plenty of cave crickets. These guys are harmless and like to live in cool, damp places like rotting logs and under damp leaves. So of course, a cave is perfect for them.
This is a replica of a Giant Ground Sloth that they have on display in the museum.
And here is a Neanderthal skull.
Also, they had some very cute alpacas hanging out outside. Here’s a short video I took of them.
If you enjoyed this article you might also like my post about the 154 West Virginia Day celebration in Princeton, WV.