xt7n8p5v7h15 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7n8p5v7h15/data/mets.xml Hovey, Horace Carter, 1833-1914. 1882  books b92-128-29187781 English R. Clarke, : Cincinnati : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Caves. Celebrated American caverns, especially Mammoth, Wyandot, and Luray  : together with historical, scientific, and descriptive notices of caves and grottoes in other lands / by Horace C. Hovey. text Celebrated American caverns, especially Mammoth, Wyandot, and Luray  : together with historical, scientific, and descriptive notices of caves and grottoes in other lands / by Horace C. Hovey. 1882 2002 true xt7n8p5v7h15 section xt7n8p5v7h15 
























































   A  PAVILION IN LURAY.
Son wondrous wild. the whole might seem
The scenery of a fairy dream.'

 



C:EL1:EBRATED



AMERICAN



CAVERNS,



ESPECIALLY



    MAMMOTH, WYANDOT, AND LURAY.


              TOGETHER WITH


HISTORICAL, SCIENTIFIC, AND DESCRIPTIVE NOTICES OF
     CAVES AND GROTTOES IN OTHER LANDS.




                  BY
           HORACE C. HOVEY.



WITH MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.






        CINCINNATI:



ROBERT CLARKE 
        1882.



CO.

 









































     COPYRtIGHT, 1882.

BY ROBERT CLARKE  CO.

 





























                 THIS VOLUME

              Is INSCRIBED TO

           JAMES D. DANA, LLD.,

        PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY IN YALE COLLEGE,

   WHOSE WRITINGS IN ILLUSTRATION OF SCIENCE

HAVE INSTRUCTED MANY BESIDES HIS OWN PUPILS, AND

    WHOSE LOYALTY TO THE SACRED WORD HAS

          STRENGTHENED THE HANDS OF

                 ITS MINISTERS.

 This page in the original text is blank.

 

PREFA-CE.



    MY original design was to give a popular account of
Mammoth, Wyandot, and Luray Caverns, without con-
cerning myself about other portions of the subterranean
world. But as the preparation for this special work ad-
vanced, materials of a more general nature were accumu-
lated, which so deeply interested the mind of the author,
that he thought they might have a degree of interest for
the reader too.
    I have opened the volume, therefore, with chapters
on the structure, varieties, and contents of caverns, fol-
lowed by a condensed account of cave dwellings, sepul-
chers, and temples.
    Dry details and technical terms have been avoided
as far as it could be done without a sacrifice of scien-
tific exactness; and, on the other hand, the temptation
has been resisted to hide facts under a profusion of adjec-
tives. Precision of statement has been aimed at, wher-
ever practicable; and yet the plan has not always met
with favor, of reducing " cave miles " to prosaic measure-
ment, and the most that is promised is that when the au-
thor claims to have taken the dimensions of a hall, dome,
pit, or avenue, his statements can be depended on. Mere
estimates vary amazingly, and each visitor must be left
at liberty to look with his own eyes; and yet the esti-
mates given here are frequently the result of much
thought and repeated observation, and are believed to
approximate accuracy. The results embodied in the
                                              (v)

 



form of maps, are not to be scrutinized as would be
justifiable in the case of surface surveys; for their de-
sign is not to fix the boundary lines of property, but
merely to aid the imagination in following the courses
pursued and the distances traversed in under-ground
explorations. In the nature of the case, much obscurity
must ever rest on regions shrouded in perpetual and
absolute darkness, except as momentarily lighted up by
artificial means; and the hope of the author is only
that he may make certain points clear, and gather into
one volume the winnowed results of long and varied
research by others as well as, himself. My collection of
cave literature contains every thing of the kind that
has been brought to my knowledge; including a con-
siderable amount of material the value of which is
impaired by flights of the fancy, or recklessness of
exaggeration. Obligations to those whose publications
have been of real service, are duly recognized in their
proper place. I desire to make special acknowledg-
ment of the personal attentions paid and the facilities
for exploration furnished by the owners and managers
of the principal American caverns described.
    The illustrations of Mammoth, Sibert, and Wyandot
caves were made under the author's direction, by Mr.
J. Barton Smith, of New Haven, Conn., and were origin-
ally prepared for articles that appeared in Scribner's
Magazine in 1880. The sketches were first done in
black and white, by the light of from twenty to fifty
lamps; after which the places sketched were brilliantly
illuminated by magnesium, that a clearer view might be
had of their outlines. The work thus begun underwent
careful revision in the artist's studio, and was corrected
as to minor details by comparison with photographs
that had been previously taken. Several of the cuts of



vi



Preface.

 

                        Preface.                    vii

Luray Cavern   now   appear for the first time; while
others were originally made for Harper's Weekly, by
Mr. Alexander Y. Lee, and for the Century Magazine,
by Mr. J. Pennell.
    In submitting this volume, prepared at intervals of
leisure snatched from the labors of professional life, it
is not without a hope that its contents, besides gratify-
ing the reader's curiosity, may serve also to deepen his
admiration of creative wisdom and skill.
NEW HAVEN, CONN., April 28, 1882.

 This page in the original text is blank.


 


                 CO N7TENTTS.



                     CHAPTER I.

          STRUCTURE AND VARIETIES OF CAVERNS.

Volcanic Agencies-Sunken Basins-Mephitic Gases-43rotto del Cane
-Guevo Upss-Flaming Caves-Lava Caves-The Surtsheller-The
Sapphire Grot-Energy of the Sea-Marine Caves-Fingal's Cave-
Vertical Gulfs of Norway-Ice Fissures-Coral Caves-Limestone
Caverns-Natural Bridges-Lost Rivers-Pits and Domes-Stalac-
tites-Caves that exhale Music and Sunshine-Eldon Hole-Facts
and Fancies.   ....................                   1


                    CHAPTER II.

  CONTENTS OF CAVES-MINERAL, VEGETABLE AND ANIMAL.

Alabaster-Precious Stones-Salt Mines-Useful Ores--Flints-Silver
Caves-Mushroom Farms-Cave of the Guacharo-A Fat Harvest-
A Natural Aquarium-Cavern Life-Eyeless Fish-Fossil Fauna-
The Bone-caves of Europe-Of Australia-Of Brazil-Of Pennsylvania
-Ancient Geography-Gigantic Beasts-Man amid Monsters... 22


                    CHAPTER III.

       CAVE DWELLINGS, SEPULCHERS AND TEMPLES.

Fossil Man's Reception-Cautious Philosophers-Prehistoric Races-
Paleolithic Period-The Stalagmitic Seal-Valley of Vezre Sa-
vants in Conference Nobility of Primitive Man-Troglodyte Arts-
Fossil Sculpture-Portrait of a Mammoth-Neolithic Period-Caves
of Spain-Textile Fabrics-Cave Mummies-Burial Caves of Atru-
ipe-Of Aleutian Islands-Old-fashioned " Seal-Skin Sack "-Canary
Islands-Ages of Bronze and Iron-Historic Caves--Sepulchers of
Palestine-Embalmed Patriarchs-Thomson's Cavern--Robber Caves
-British Refugees-A Cave-Tragedy-Thor's Cave-Temples of
Greece-Of India-Of Egypt .......................     36
                                                 (ix)

 

Contents.



                    CHAPTER IV.

                    MAMMOTH CAVE.

Pioneer Patriots-Saltpeter Miners Discovery of Mammoth Cave-
War of 1S12-Change of Owners-The Croghan Heirs-The Guides
-Early Literature of this Cavern-Its Geological Survey-Its Fauna
-Map-making under Difficulties .........................  53


                     CHAPTER V.

               MAMMOTH CAvE-Continued.

Location and Geological Relations-Whike's Cave-Salt Cave-Short
and Long Caves-Proctor's Cave-Diamond Cave-Grand Crystal
Cave-Mammoth Cave without a Rival-Case City-A Stage-coach
Ride-A Charming Resort-Hotel evolved from a Log Cabin-The
Outfit-Necessary Regulations Entrance to Mammoth Cave-Green
River-Dixon's Cave-A Noble Vestibule-The Iron Gate-Blowing
Caves-A Changeless Realm .........................   64


                    CHAPTER VI.

               MAMMOTH CAVE-Continued.

The Main Cave-The Narrows-Saltpeter Works-Rotunda-kudu-
  bon's Avenue-Bat Rooms-Skeletons-Temperature of Mammoth
  Cave-Kentucky Cliffs-Methodist Church-A Subterranean Sermon
  -Standing Rocks-Grand Arch-Water-clock-Wandering Willie's
  Spring-Grotesque Fancies-Giant's Coffin-Acute Angle-Rude
  Monuments-Stone Cottages-A Strange Sanitarium-Star Chamb-r
  -A pleasing Incident-Salts Room-Proctor's Arcade Kinney's
  Arena-Wright's Rotunda-Black Chambers-Cataracts-Solitary
  Chambers-Fairy Grotto-Chief City-St. Catherine's City-End of
  Main Cave......                                      74


                    CHAPTER VII.

               MAMMOTH CAVE-Continued.

The Short Route-Gothic Gallery-Gothic Arcade-Mummies An-
  cient Relics-Short Cave-Salt Cave Haunted Chamber-Register
  Hall-Gothic Chapel-Aged Pillars-Romantic Marriage-Old Arm



x

 



Chair-Main Cave Again-Deserted Chambers-Wooden-Bowl Room
-New Discoverv-Arched Wav-Pits and Domes--The Labyrinth-
Side-Saddle Pit-Gorin's Dome-Putnam's Cabinet-Hovey's Cabinet
-Bottomless Pit-Pensico Avenue-Scylla and Charybdis ......... 89


                   CHAPTER VIII.
               MAMMOTH CAVE-Concluded.

The Long Route-Main Cave once more-Beyond the Pits-Fat Man's
Misery-Bacon Chamber-Spark's Avenue-Mammoth Dome-
Egyptian Temple A Lamp Lost and Found-River Hall-Dead
Sea-A Jolly Crowd Crossing the Styx-Lake Lethe-Echo River-
Eyeless Fish-Subterranean Music-Silliman's Avenue-El Ghor-
A Purple Vintage- Dinner in the Shade-A Crystal Paradise
Cleveland's Cabinet-Cave Flowers-Rocky Mountains -Croghan's
Hall - The Maelstrom - A Daring Exploit - The Corkscrew - Old
Matt in Danger-Out of the Cave and under the Stars .............. 103


                    CHAPTER IX.
        CAVE REGION OF INDIANA-WYANDOT CAVE.

Rock-houses near Madison-Lost River-Hamer's Cave-Donelson's
Cave Shiloh Cave-Trumpet Cave Blue Spring Cave-Rothrock's
Purchase-Survey of Wyandot Cave-Map-making-Artist and Au-
thor-Sibert's Cave-Peri's Prison-A Perilous Pass-Geological Sec-
tion-Frank and the Wolf-Cave Beasts-Outfit--Routes-Size of
Wyandot Cave ............................................. 123


                     CHAPTER X.
               WYANDOT CAVE-Continued.
Entrance-Temperature Saltpeter Works-Wyandot Indians-Ban-
dits' Hall-Old Cave Jacob's Ladder-Senate Chamber-Pillar of
the Constitution-Rate of Stalagmitic Growth-An Alabaster Mine-
Ancient Pounders-Bat's Lodge-New Cave-Counterfeiter's Trench
-South Arm-Indian Relics-Creeping Avenue Pillared Pallace-
More Pounders-" Bear Wallows "-Flint Mines-Around the Con-
tinent-The Alligator-The Throne Diamond Avenue-Helen's
Dome-H ovey's Point-A Grand Council-Room-Wolf's Lair-
Northern Arm-Rothrock's Straits-Bear Slides-Rothrock's Cathe-
dral-Transformation Scenes-Augur Hole-Slippery Hill-Eyeless
Crawfish-Wabash Avenue-Frost King's Palace-Snowy Cliffi-
Marble Hall-Oulopholites-Worm Alley-Milroy's Temple-
Chaos and Paradise............................................................... 133



Contents.



xi

 


xii                     Contents.


                    CHAPTER XI.

           CAVES OF THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY.

Geological Features-Signs of Fire and Flood-Limits of Cave Possi.
bilities-Early Descriptions of Virginia-Madison's Cave-The
Organ Cave-Hot Springs-Weyer's Cave-Its Discovery-Its Beauty
-Its Size and Location-Kaiser's Cave-An Indian Grave-Queer
Rats-Water Cave An Old Hair-Covered Trunk-Zirkle's Cave. 154


                    CHAPTER XII.
                 THE CAVERNS OF LURAY.

Scenery of the Luray Valley-the Blue Ridge-Cave Hill-Ruffner's
Cave-Cave-hunting-A Dark Secret-Sale of the Luray Cave-Sys-
tematic Exploration-Electric Lamps-The Vestibule-Bone-hunt-
ers-Washiiigton's Pillar-Making Tracks-Muddy Lake Elfin
Ramble Crystal Springs-Pluto's Chasm-Hovey's Hall and Bal-
cony-The Chimes Alabaster Scarfs-Proserpine and the Specter-
Oberon's Grot-The Poor Man's Bacon-Temperature-Fallen Col-
umn-UJnwritten History-The Hollow Column-Angel's Wing-
Saracen's Tent-Stalactitic Age-Subterranean Music-The Cathe-
dral-Tower of Babel-Giant's Hall-Empress and Sultana-Swords
of the Titans-Double Column-Round Room-Ball Room-Collins'
Grotto-Campbell's Hall-Toy Shop-Lost Blanket-Helen's Scarf-
  Broaddus Lake-Castles on the Rhine-Down in Hades-Skeleton
  Gorge-Animal Remains-Fauna and Fungi-Helictites-Stebbins'
  Avenue-Leaning Tower-Stonewall Avenue-Imperial Spring-
  Brand's Cascade..........................................................  163


                   CHAPTER XIII

             HOWE'S CAVE, SCHOHARIE CO., N. Y.

Rocks of the Helderberg-Ball's Cave-The Ostergarge Cavern-An
  Ingenious Plan-The Whirlpool-Lighted by Gas-Bridal Chamber
  -Sanitarium-Giant's Chapel-Howe's Pillar-Haunted Room-
  Music Hall-Crystal Lake Underground Railroad-Uncle Tom's
  Cabin-Winding Way-Ramsay's Rotunda.                 189


                    CHAPTER XIV.

                 OTHER AMERICAN CAVERNS.

Judges' Cave-Simsbury Caverns-Moodus Noises-Pictured Cave of
  La Crosse-Pickett's Cave, or the Cave of the Winds-Cave of Caca-
  huamilpa-Canadian Caverns--Cliff-Dwellers-Coiiclusio. . 196


 


  CELEBRATED AMERICAN CAVERNS.



                    CHAPTER I.

         STRUCTURE AND VARIETIES OF CAVERNS.
Volcanic Agencies-Sunken Basins-Mephitic Gases-Grotto del Cane
-Guevo Upas-Flaming Caves-Lava Caves-The Surtsheller-The
Sapphire Grot-Energy of the Sea-Marine Caves-Fingal's Cave
-Vertical Gulfs of Norway-Ice Fissures-Coral Caves-Limestone
Caverns-Natural Bridges-Lost Rivers-Pits and Domes-Stalac-
tites-Caves that exhale Music and Sunshine-Eldon Hole-Facts
and Fancies.
  THE crust of the earth is pierced by natural cavities
that exist, like the hills above them, in an endless divers-
ity of sizes, shapes and structural peculiarities. Just as
there are prairies and table-lands without a semblance of
a hill, so there are broad areas of non-cavernous rocks.
Only a limited portion of the globe is favorable to the for-
mation of caves, and causes are constantly at work whose
effect is to close up and gradually obliterate those now ex-
isting, counter-balanced but partly by causes resulting in
the excavation of new ones. The task of sifting facts
from fancies is one of sufficient difficulty as matters stand;
and in this attempt to lay before the public, in a single
volume, the authenticated wonders of Celebrated Caverns,
the writer has found them to be so numerous and marvel-
ous, that he finds relief in the thought that there is a limit
to the " world of rock-ribbed darkness," and that the earth
itself is not, as was formerly taught, a hollow globe!
  Among the agencies in undermining its surface, vol-
canic forces are conspicious. It is said that Etna has poured
out, in a single eruption, 100,000,000 cubic feet of lava,
and Vesuvius half as great a quantity; while Hecla has



I



(1)

 

Celebrated American Caverns.



deluged Iceland with molten rivers from 40 to 50 miles long.
Such vast outbursts must leave corresponding vacancies in
the interior. Sometimes the crust above these enormous
cavities gives way, and forests and cities are engulfed.
Lake Masaga is an instance, in Central America, whose
entire basin, 10 miles in circumference, is sunk 1,000 feet
below the level of the region, while its walls are wholly
formed of rocks blistered and torn by the fierce heat.
  The basin of the Dead Sea probably furnishes a still
more remarkable caving in of the surface, owing to erup-
tions that once made Syria a decidedly volcanic region;
relics of which exist in the adjacent streams of basaltic
rock, and the bitumen floating on the saline waters that
were never joined to the ocean.
  The inhabitants of a mining town in Mexico were once
alarmed for an entire month by subterraneous thunderings,
sharp strokes alternating with long rolling peals. Hum-
boldt ascribed this phenomenon to the rushing of steam,
or gases, through hidden chambers, emptied by volcanic
agency. " Thus " he says, ' do chasms in the interior of
the earth open and close; and the sonorous waves either
reach us, or are interrupied in their progress,"
  In the writings of Antonio Garcias Cubas, published at
Mexico in 1874, we are told of a submerged village in the
district of Ixtla, where the transparency of the water per-
mits one to see the houses, and, near the southern bank,
the portico of a church, the cross on the tower rising above
the surface! A like disaster, in ancient times, is said to
have overtaken a town in Italy, whose ruins used to be
visible at the bottom of Lake Vico, the ground on which
it stood having been engulfed during a volcanic convulsion.
  The Lake Agnano is also known to have been an ancient
crater; and on its margin is situated the celebrated Grotto
del Cane (Dog's Grotto), known from the days of Pliny.
It is excavated from the tufa, and quite small, about ten
feet long, four broad, and nine high, famous, not for beauty,
but for its deadly exhalations of carbonic acid gas. The
interior being lower than its mouth, the fatal gas exists in
a stratum only two feet deep, the surplus flowing like

 

Structure and   Varieties of Caverns.



water over the brim. The visitor feels no discomfort, un-
less he should stoop toward the floor, when the momentary
sensation resembles that experienced on taking a glass of
soda-water in brisk effervescence. The poor dog, kept to
exhibit the properties of the gas, finds it a more serious op-
eration. The keeper drags the creature by a cord and
swings him to the end of the grotto, where he lies gasping
until, just before life is extinct, he is drawn out and thrown
into the lake to revive in time for being half-killed. again
to gratify the curiosity of the next visitor. There are me-
phitic caverns of far grander proportions than this absurd
little den that has been mentioned by every naturalist for
the last eighteen hundred years.
  The most extraordinary spot of the kind, though not
exactly a cavern, is the famous Poison Valley of Java.
This is a sunken plain, half a mile in circumference, and
girt by precipitous cliffs. The floor seems to be a sieve
for the ascent of noxious gases, which rise in such quan-
tities as to be fatal to every living thing that comes within
reach. The whole valley is strewn with skeletons of
various animals. This place, called " Guevo Upas," gave
rise to the fable of " the deadly Upas-tree," of which the
senior Darwin gave an account, in his " Botanic Garden,"
that deceived all Europe, he himself having been imposed
upon first by a Dutch surgeon at Batavia, named Foersch,
who claimed to have seen the dreadful Tree. The story
ran that, in the midst of the valley stood the Upas, blasting
vegetation to the distance of twelve miles, and exhaling
such an effluvia that no human being could exist within
eighteen miles. No living animal of any kind could safely
cross the plain, nor were there any fish in the waters nor
birds in the air. It is now known that the Poison Valley
is smaller than was represented; that its deadly exhalation
is simply carbonic acid gas; and that the real Upas-tree,
instead of reigning in solitary grandeur over a desert blasted
by its presence, grows in luxuriant forests, and permits
men and beasts to repose unharmed under its shadow, and
birds to build nests in its branches-its poison lurking only
in its juices.



3

 

Celebrated American Caverns.



  The fatal effects of the noxious gases sometimes found
in caverns gave rise, probably, to the ancient superstition
concerning the Chimamra and the Basilisk; frightful
monsters of the most malignant nature, whose dens were
near volcanoes.
  Before dismissing the subject of mephitic caves, it
should be stated that, while it is prudent to look out for
foul air when exploring pits and underground chambers,
there is really little danger from this cause in any of the
larger caverns, owing to the perfection of natural ven-
tilation.
  Flaming Caves are of course due to the fires of active
volcanoes. The most striking examples are those visible
in the face of a precipice in the mountains of Cumana;
where two immense holes are to be seen by day-time over-
looking the forest below, which at night are lighted by
fires from within, and glare like the eyes of a monster, or
demon, or " tiger-cat as big as a Cordillera! "
  Lava Caves are sometimes of great size and fantastic
beauty. They are caused by the overlapping of the fiery
torrent, or more frequently by the sinking away of a
portion of the fluid mass from under the cooling crust,
leaving a roof of hardened basalt.
  Professor Silliman mentions such a cavern near the base
of Monte Rossi; said to be a mile long, but so irregular
in its dimensions as to be penetrated only with difficulty
and risk.
  Professors Brewer and King, in clambering over the
flanks of Mt. Shasta, in 1863, found perforated domes,
into whose orifices you might look down 100 feet. They
also explored a tubular cavern half a mile long, underlying
a lava plain, whose archway is 60 feet wide and 80 high,
while the roof is not more than 30 feet thick. The floor
was of lava sand, strewn with rough bowlders, and in some
of the larger chambers, incumbered with piles of lava-
blocks. The sides were lined with blister-holes and lava-
froth, looking as fresh as if the cave had been a recent
creation.
  Iceland, besides its ice mountains, geysers, and twenty-



4

 

Structure  and   Varieties of Caverns.



five volcanoes, boasts the finest lava caves in the world.
One of them is called the Singing Cave, on account of its
fine echoes, and the custom that prevails of always sing-
ing a psalm in it, for the gratification of visitors. Another
is known as the Sheep Pen, because used as such by the
mountain shepherds; as were also, in ancient days, the
" sheep-cotes " in the wilderness of Engedi; both serving
to remind us of the cannibal shepherds of Sicily, whose
chief had an adventure with Ulysses in a cave, as the story
is told by Homer.
  Mount Hecla is the best known of the Icelandic vol-
canoes, having had thirty eruptions during the last 1,000
years, and being at one time in a state of constant activity
for six years. But the eruptions from Skaptar Jakull, in
1783, exceeded any other ever known in the modern his-
tory of the globe. Streams of boiling water deluged the
plains, showers of hot ashes darkened the air, and the tor-
rents of lava spread out over an area of 420 square miles.
We are told that this eruption destroyed 9,000 persons
and one-half the live stock on the island.
  In the midst of the mass of solid rock remaining as the
monument of this catastrophe, occurs a chasm formed by
the falling in of the crust, exposing the entrance to a cav-
ern of the greatest magnificence. It is the Surtsheller, so
named for Surter, the black prince of the region of fire,
who, according to the Scandinavian mythology, shall one
day issue from his subterranean halls, vanquish all other
gods, and wrap the universe in flames. Some of the
ancient inhabitants claim to have encountered Surter;
probably led to this belief by having seen a remnant of
melted lava,-for it was long before so vast a mass was
completely cooled. Many of the natives still refuse to
enter the precincts of a spot so surrounded by superstitious
dread.
  Perhaps the best account extant, of the Surtsheller, is
that given by Dr. Henderson, who explored it, about the
year 1800, with a party of servants bearing lighted torches.
According to his measurements it is forty feet high, fifty
wide, and retains these dimensions for nearly 4,000 feet;



5

 

Celebrated American Caverns.



the entire length being 5,034 feet. Clinibing over the
banks of snow that partly filled the entrance, the explor-
ers crossed a rugged tract of large angular blocks of lava.
between which lay deep pools of stagnant water. The
blackness of the walls, ornamented by vitrified stripes, the
long black stalactites pendent from the spacious vault
above, and other forms taken by the cooling lava, awoke
the admiration of the visitors.
  "The roof and sides of the cave," says Dr. Henderson,
"were decorated with the most superb volcanic icicles, crys-
talized in every possible form, many of which rivaled in
minuteness of beauty the finest zeolites; while from the
floor, rose pillars of the same substance, assuming all the
curious and fantastic shapes imaginable, mocking the
proudest specimens of art, and counterfeiting many well-
known objects of animated nature. A more brilliant
scene never presented itself to the human eye, nor was it
easy to divest ourselves of the idea that we actually beheld
one of the fairy scenes depicted in eastern fable."
  Lord Dufferin, in that charming little volume, " Letters
from High Latitudes," gives a glowing description of
Skaptar Jokull and its famous eruption, but says not a
word of Surtsheller, or any other cave, with a single ex-
ception, to which he gives no name. It is in the vicinity
of the geysers, and is so unique that the noble author
went into raptures over it: "Imagine," he observes, "a
large irregular opening in the surface of the soft white
clay, filled to the very brim with scalding water, perfectly
still, and of as bright a blue as that of the Grotto Azzuro
at Capri, through whose transparent depths you can see
down into the mouth of a vast subaqueous cavern, which
runs, Heaven knows how far, in a horizontal direction be-
neath your feet. Its walls and varied cavities really
looked as if they were built of the purest lapis lazuli-
and so thin seemed the crust that roofed it in, we almost
fancied it might break through, and tumble us all into the
fearful beautiful bath !"
  The Grotto Azzuro (or Blue Cave), to which Lord Duf-
ferin refers, is not a lava cave, but is formed in the lime-



6

 

Structure and Varieties of Caverns.



stone by the constant action of the sea. It is one of the
large class of marine caverns to which we now turn our
attention; peculiar, however, in its exquisite sapphire tints.
The island of Capri, on which it is found, is located on
the south side of the Bay of Naples. A low aperture
leads directly from the water into a circular chamber.
Visitors are required to lie down in the boat that conveys
them under the arch, and on emerging into the grotto
itself, they are amazed to find, instead of darkness, light
that would be dazzling were it not blue. The water, the
walls, the stalactites, every object is tinged by the rays
reflected from the brilliant skies of Greece; a fact proved
by the shadow cast from the boat upward to the vault
above, and by the increased luster when the entrance to
the cave is closed by a curtain. It is the custom of the
guide to plunge into this splendid bath, and, by agitating
the waters, to increase the play of cerulean tints, varying
from light to the darkest blue; his own body meanwhile
seeming like an image carved from sapphire.
  A broken stairway leads to a subterranean passage, now
filled with debris, but supposed to have formerly commu-
nicated with one of the luxurious villas of Tiberius, for
whose imperial pleasure this gigantic basin was reserved.
  Another grotto has recently been discovered on the Isle
of Capri, similar to the one already described, except that
the prevailing tints are green, instead of blue; owing to
some modification of the light as it enters from the sea.
  Marine Caves constitute a class by themselves, differing
materially from those that are formed by volcanic or other
causes. They are found wherever the swell and lash of
the billows for ages have had effect on rocks too hard to
be wholly displaced by their action. The tourist, in his
rambles by the sea-side, finds a charm in the rugged rocks
that seem to him to have kept up, for untold centuries, a
successful battle with the waves. But the fact is that the
toughest granite and the hardest basalt, the firmest por-
phyry, and the noblest cliffs of marble, are ever losers in
this eternal strife. Every shore is strewn with frag-
ments of the barriers by which it once was girt, and,

 

Celebrated American Caverns.



where the coast is boldest, the broken outlines are most
picturesque, and the explorer is sure to find deeper recesses,
often leading to grottoes, natural tunnels, or true caverns,
all carved from the compact rock by the fingers of the
waves.
  Mechanical forces are generally the agencies here in op-
eration, chemical action being comparatively slight upon
granites and other substances sufficiently indestructible to
serve, even for a time, as a wall against the sea.
  Storms, in their fury, pound these walls with liquid
hammers, and hurl pebbles and even massive stones, which
are sure to find some weak spot that can thus be hollowed
out. Veins exist that run parallel to and across each
other, and the invading foe insidiously gnaws its way along
these lines, until passages called " chimneys" are made,
through which, when heavy seas roll in, the water rushes
furiously, ascending 50 or 100 feet into the air, like a gey-
ser, with a loud roaring, and then retiring with a sobbing
sound, as if grieved at the mischief done. The Spouting
Horn of Mt. Desert is a noted instance of this. At low
water, it is said, the arch can be gained by a bold adven-
turer. When the tide comes in, the breakers dash them-
selves far up the chasm. But in a storm, such is their wild
fury that they spout 100 feet through the opening at the
top of the cliff in a manner most terrible, and " the thun-
der of their angry crash against the rocks may be heard
for miles." This peculiarity gives its name to Thunder
Cave, a long gallery running into the Otter Cliffs on the
coasts of Maine. The cavity can be entered at low tide,
and the visitor sees in its recesses a number of large bowl-
ders, which it is plain that the waves in a storm roll and
toss back and forth, and grind together, with mutterings
and rumblings. " The crash of the breakers against die
wall is the clap of thunder; the rolling stones carry off
the sound in its successive reverberations."  The "Ovens"
worn by the tides along Frenchman's Bay, are a pleasing
contrast to the noisy caves along the sea-front. They are
excavated from pink felspar, and their interior walls are
painted by the sea in vivid tints; while from crevices near



8

 

Structure   and   Varieties of Cazverns.



the entrance the mosses and fringed gentian grow. The
poet Bryant enjoyed this as one of his favorite scenes, and
praised it in poetry and in prose.
  One of the most remarkable groups of sea-caves is that
found in the island of Sark, in the English Channel. This
island is only 3 miles long, and is made up of granite cliffs
250 or 300 feet high, which are honey-combed by vaulted
'recesses joining each other in bold and grotesque arches,
whose walls are polished by the wear of the waves. Many
and singular caves are in the chalk cliffs that lie open to
the roll of the North Sea. Some of them are fine "s pout-
ers."
  Fingal's Cave, and others in the great Basaltic district
including the island of Staffa and the Giant's Causeway,
were probably due to a combination of causes, of which
oceanic violence was only one. The curious Grotte des
Fromages (or Cave of Cheeses), at Bertrich-Baden, is the
result of atmospheric action on the basaltic columns;
and the same decomposing action no doubt subjected the
rocks of Staffa to its control. Yet the fact that, twice a
day, year by year, and century after century, the tide
invades the deepest recesses of Fingal's Cave can not be
disregarded. At low tide the ends of the broken columns
are stepping-stones on which a skillful climber can go to
the end of the cave; bult the safer way is to enter by boat.
  Fingal's Cave may have been known to the ancient Bri-
tons; but its modern discoverer was Sir Joseph Banks,
whose account appeared in 1772, and though many have
been published since, none are more graphic and truthful
than his. Banks took his measurements with care, giving
371 feet, as the extreme length from the rock without, and
250 feet as the distance from the pitch of the arch. Its
breadth varies from 50 to 60 feet. The height of the arch
at the mouth is 117 feet, and at the end 71) feet. The indi-
vidual columns vary in height from 39 to 54 feet. The
water is from 9 to 18 feet deep, according to the state of
the tide.
  The name of the island, Staffa, is derived from the Nor-
wegians, who made the spot one of their piratical strong-



9

 

Celebrated American Caverns.



holds, and means an assemblage of columns. T