Entering Lincoln Caverns through a man-made entrance, we walk through a long, limestone tunnel about six feet high. Water droplets splash the gravel floor. Just before the first room, a triangular boulder drips with glaze resembling a giant slice of peach pie.
Inside the golden-brown walls of the "Mystery Room," an orange light shines up through dark yellow flowstone four inches thick, proving its transparency. Spindly tree roots dangle from the ceiling, some reaching down ninety feet from the mountaintop. The group descends a staircase near the center of the room that leads to a corridor with hundreds of waterlines carved in the rock, one barely above the other.
After passing the old cavern entrance, discovered while constructing Route 22 in 1930, we proceed down a stairway into a four-foot-wide canyon and stand at the bottom of a magnificent frozen "Niagara" waterfall (ninety feet wide and forty feet high). The cascading ivory flowstone twinkles with thousands of pearly "cave beads," producing a stunning work of art.
In the next room, flowstone resembles snow-covered icicles on a frozen mountain spring. Jennifer, our guide, shines a red spotlight on the formation and it glistens with purple gemstones. Reflections of stalactites in the crystal clear water of Sunset Lake make it appear deep, but in reality, its depth measures only five inches.
After exiting Lincoln Caverns, we hike up a gravel path to a sitting area with green and white benches just outside the second caves entrance. Jennifer unlocks the cavern door, and we enter Whispering Rocks Cave.
Whispering Rocks displays an enchanting, almost magical ambience. An enormous flowstone "Birthday Cake" formation of butter-cream flowstone and strings of pure white "cave popcorn," clinging to the walls, greets us as soon as we enter. Tiny translucent crystals dot the cavern ceiling, sparkling in the artificial light. The constant flow of water years ago has made the ivory and gold-colored walls smooth and marked with small scallops from splashing water.
Every turn has a surprise that delights the eye. Neatly folded "drapery" formations hang smothered in shiny glaze along thin passageways. Brilliant white flowstone presents one stunning array after another. "Cave ribbons" stream down walls connecting with knobby stalagmites. Helictites curl at all angles. Columns of every size and shape decorate the cavern.
A small sinkhole in the mountainside led to the discovery of this cave in 1941 by Myron Dunlavy, Jr., the owners son. On Easter Sunday, at the end of World War II, 100 people crawled through the hole to attend a morning church service in the "Chapel Room."
Winding our way through a narrow corridor, we approach a dark, tiny A-frame rock tunnel called the "Keyhole." One by one, we slip through the passage and head back through the cave to the entrance, enjoying this breathtaking, enchanting wonderland one more time.
Lincoln Caverns, open since 1932, is located in U.S. Route 22, three miles west of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Follow the yellow signs. Admission for both caves is included in one price. Touring both caves takes about one hour. The temperature inside the caverns remains a constant fifty-two degrees. Lincoln Caverns offers a variety of programs for earning scouting badges, field trips, and parties. Gemstone mining, camping, snack bar, gift shop, nature trails, and picnic pavilions are also available.
The Dunlavy’s created a Kid’s Cave Crawl, a simulated spelunking adventure for ages 4 through 12. Children are given helmets and kneepads. The tour lasts about thirty minutes.
During October, the cavern hosts a Ghost and Goblin Haunted Tour. The rest of the year, Treasure Hunt tours are available for groups of twenty or more. A treasure map and clues, along with a guide, help participants figure out where in the cave the treasure is hidden.
Lincoln Cavern and Whispering Rocks open daily at 9am and closes between 4pm and 6pm, depending on the month. Hours for January and February are by appointment only. In December, the caves are only open on weekends.
For more information check Lincoln Caverns or call (814) 643-1358. Other area information can be found at Allegheny Mountains Visitors Bureau or call (800) 842-5866.