Monday, July 20, 2009

Plunking Cavern?

On our way to Portland we stopped at a spot called the Moaning Cavern. The brochure we had, described a 45 minute "walking tour"through the cavern that moans! I had imagined the moaning would be very creepy. The cavern was discovered thousands of years ago probably by the first poor sucker that fell in. Miners were able to use ropes and such to get down in there and back out again, they used candles for light as they repelled down. The candles sat in little metal cups which were hooked to their belts. To keep from lighting themselves on fire while climbing down a rope, they didn't light the candles until they reached the bottom! TOTAL DARKNESS.
We used this rusty spiral staircase that was built down there in 1922. Yikes! I was so scared. The only other way down is by repelling down a rope, No thanks, not for me. It turned out to be a very long descent down the stairs and then a 30 minute "talking tour". The tour guide was very informative although I was a bit annoyed when she told us that the cave no longer moans now that they built a gift shop over the entrance. What? She said "its more like a plunking now, but I bet you wouldn't have come down here if it was called Plunking cave!" Oh boy! we were deceived many times on this trip, don't they realize you just end up leaving disappointed? She explained that before the gift shop muffled the sound, water would drip into the cave and fall down into these seven small holes that had been formed in a blobby stalagmite. The dripping noise would echo around and around the cavern creating a moaning noise by the time it came out of the top. They try to recreate the noise by pumping water into the cave as the summers are too dry now, then the tour guides use a plastic tube to syphon the water out of the holes. When a drip comes down and lands in one of those holes, if you are all very quiet, you will hear a plunk! Wow! I thought it sounded like one hit to a bongo drum. A quiet hit. She told us that when the miners started exploring the cave they found a 14 foot pile of remains, many of them human. They have a display case with all kinds of stuff they found whiskey bottles, tools, a twelve year old girls skull. You see this cavern starts out as a small hole amidst some rocks in the ground. If you made the mistake of stepping into it you fell about 165 feet to your death, there is no way out! Until recently they had the oldest human remain in North America, 13,000 years old. No animals live in this cave, there is no food or light. The cavern is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty inside.The owners have installed big lights so we were able to see much better than my pictures show.
The scariest part besides the shaky spiral staircase was when she turned out the lights and showed us no light, then candle light, then flashlight, I really didn't enjoy that part. I couldn't stop thinking about that movie "The Descent". We actually enjoyed ourselves and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes, well... caves.

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