Indiana offers four public cave tours. Each with its own unique geological formations and interesting history.
This trip we decided to visit two of these caves, Marengo Cave in Marengo and Squire Boone’s Cave just outside Corydon.
Marengo Cave is the larger of the two covering what is to believed to be the eighth longest cave system in the state. The cave is divided into two tours the “Crystal Palace” and the “Dripstone Trail” which can be packaged together for $22 ($11 for children). On this day, we decided to purchase tickets only for the Dripstone Trail.
The tour lasted approximately one hour and was highlighted by our high school tour guide J.D. who excitedly led us on what he described as “random adventures”. These adventures – which we were lead to believe were not part of the traditional tour – included:
- Lovers Retreat where a tour group was once hijacked by a 16-year old with a shotgun. (He got away with $300 but was soon apprehended at a nearby swimming hole.)
- The Elk Room where the local Elks Lodge held their regular meetings. At one time, the group had mounted Elks heads to the walls of this cave room. In addition, the previous owner would host boy scout troops to explore the cave and sleep overnight in this particular room. With his flashlight shining at his face from under his chin, he would often tell them the scariest stories he could think of, and as he headed out of the cave, he would turn off all lights and force them to spend the night in total darkness.
- Extra Time at the Penny Ceiling: So, technically this was “part” of the tour, the penny ceiling (as you can see below) is pretty cool. The ceiling in this room is porous and soft enough for a penny, if thrown hard enough, and at the right angle, to stick deep in the sediment. J.D. gave us some extra time in this room to see if we could get anything to stick – none of us could and told us some of the great things that have been stuck up there – room keys, chap stick, and even a few engagement rings needed to be recovered.
Marengo Cave is interesting and the tour was fine, but it would have been much less enjoyable without this tour guide. A few photos:
Squire Boone’s Caverns
Squire Boone was the older brother of the more famed Daniel with whom he discovered these caverns in 1790. At a later period in his life, Squire spent two days hiding in these caverns to avoid a band of hostile Indians. According to our guide, he considered the beautiful valley, and specifically the caverns to be holy ground, and eventually settled here with his wife and four sons. While on the land he established a grist mill that operates to this day (and can be toured – though it was closed when we were visited)
The tour which cost $14.50/adult includes traditional cave sights like massive stalactite and stalagmites, “fried eggs” and “mirror pools.” But, there are some very interesting differences on this tour.
First, geologically, the cave features a substantial underground river whose outlet and source are not fully known, an awe-inspiring large open central cavern called the cathedral, and a beautiful large underground waterfall that our guide explained rolls over some of the largest rimstone dams found in the United States.
But, the big difference between this cave and the others in Indiana (and probably in the US) is that the tour ends at the small, unglamorous coffin of Squire Boone. Upon his death in 1815, Squire Boone was laid to rest inside his beloved cave as he had requested. The coffin holds only 27 of his bones, though a recent dig may have uncovered more of his (and perhaps his family’s bones). A few pictures:
For more information, or to schedule your tour visit the official sites here: