‘My Virginia – The Shenandoah Caverns’ by author Joseph J. O’Donnell

IMG_3787   The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to many spectacular sites, some of which we had introduced in this series of articles. Virginia has access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay in the east. To the west you can easily drive to the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains to see the fantastic views from up high. Between these two mountain chains runs the Shenandoah Valley, called the ‘breadbasket of the South’ during the Civil War.

This long valley, running almost the entire length of the state, still is predominantly farm lands, but is also home to many fine universities. Its picturesque beauty can be better seen by traveling the Skyline Drive which sits on top of the Blue Ridge summits. You can also glimpse its splendor when traveling along Route 81, a major North/South conduit running the entire length of the eastern part of our country.

IMG_3830The Shenandoah also has hidden treasures that cannot be easily seen from eye level, because it is home to many subterranean caverns. These caves were all discovered in the 1800’s by early settlers to the area whose original native population called the Shenandoah ‘The Great Valley’. They used the cavern’s natural cool temperatures to keep food fresh, for shelter, and for impromptu ballrooms during weddings and get-togethers. During the mid part of the nineteenth century early explorers of these underground wonders capitalized on their splendor by opening them up to the public for viewing. We have uncovered that these caverns not only exist along the hills of the Blue Ridge, but on the valley floor itself.

This is where we discovered the Shenandoah Caverns, and the area that is also has the same namesake, is near Quicksburg, Virginia. The Shenandoah Caverns has been thrilling visitors since it first opened in 1922. Its incredible geography is breathtaking and its crystalline formations has been admired and photographed by thousands over the years. You can view the famous ‘Breakfast Bacon’ limestone features that were featured in the National Geographic Magazine. You can see the soaring underground rooms like Long View Hall. Children and adults alike will be delighted by intricate and unexpected formations such as Capital Dome, Diamond Cascade, and Rainbow Lake. This one-mile tour circuit stays at a comfortable temperature of 56-degrees year round and it is the only cavern system with elevator service. Our readers can contact the Shenandoah Caverns at (540) 477-3155 for more information.

Nearby visitors can also see the ‘The Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns’ for a delightful tour for young and old alike. This fully enclosed building displays everything from antique vehicles to the ‘Main Street of Yesteryear’, and houses many gift shops and displays. Another neighboring building is called ‘American Celebration On Parade’ and is the nation’s premier parade float exhibition. Here you’ll witness parade floats and so much more.

Joe O'DonnellWe have included many photos for this article and urge our readers to visit this natural wonder for themselves. Be sure to carry a light sweater with you, and don’t forget the camera.

JOD/TAEM