Gasping for breath, I turned to look at my family members puffing along up the steep incline. My lungs burned within my chest, but we had to quicken our footsteps. Our family was in Virginia, and we were about to tour the Grand Caverns. Our guide was waiting with a group at the top of a hill by the cave entrance.
Inside the caverns, stalactites, stalagmites, and columns greeted me every way I looked. I was standing in America’s oldest show cave, open since 1806. This limestone cavern is located in the Shenandoah Valley near Grottoes, Virginia. Once I became accustomed to the dimness of the cave interior, I let my eyes roam around the first room we entered. It seemed the exquisite designs stretched farther, much farther, than the eye could see.
As we stepped into a hallway with slippery walls, our guide turned off all lights for a few moments to give an idea how it was for the first people who entered the cave when their candles went out. It seemed like one could feel the blackness. Going on, the guide showed us the signatures of over two hundred thirty soldiers who had signed on the cave wall during the Civil War.
One prominent shape was named George Washington. It was very shiny and smooth. Farther along the tour, a clay vessel was sitting on the side of the path. Our guide explained that long before, people used to collect the water that dripped from the ceiling to drink. Though we weren’t allowed to try the water, we were able to touch it, and it was very cold.
I think one of the most interesting parts was a section called the Rainbow Room. The host of colorful lights around it gave it the honor of that title. If we looked down, it was as though we were looking into the basement of the cave. As we stood in awe of this sight, the smiling guide turned on some other lights, and we saw we were looking at a pool of water with reflections!
This cave is also known for its unusually abundant shield formations.
The Cathedral Hall was huge and stately—280 feet (85 m) long and over 70 feet (21 m) high. We left Cathedral Hall feeling that the majesty of God was evident in every detail of the place.