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Howe Cave Earthcache

A cache by monet37 Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 01/28/2008
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

This cache is a living, limestone cave, carved by an underground river over the course of millions of years, located 156-feet below the earth's surface.

The Howe Cave Lodge is handicapped accessible; however the cave tour is not. They do, however, offer a complimentary courtesy tour which consists of an elevator ride into the vestibule of the caverns, followed by a video in our Visitor Center. The cave was discovered in 1842 by Schoharie County farmer, Lester Howe, for whom it is named. It was developed in the late 1920s and re-opened to the public with elevators, brick pathways, lights and handrails in 1929. Howe Caves celebrated the 75th anniversary of re-opening in 2004.

Visit the web site,, for on-going updates.

Howe Cave is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with winter hours 9am to 5pm daily. From July 1 through Labor Day, extended hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Advance ticket requests are not necessary for traditional tours. Tour length is approximately 80 minutes long and includes boat ride on the underground Lake of Venus. There is a $2 parking fee. For more information please call 518-296-8900.

Scientists believe nature began to slowly craft Howe Caverns about six million years ago - long before the ancient, extinct animal known as the woolly mammoth appeared on Earth.

The caverns are unique for more than their age and beauty - they are among a very small number of mineral caves in the world. The walls of Howe Caverns consist of two types of limestone (Coeymans and Manlius limestone) from different periods in the Earth's early history, as well as a rock known as Rondout waterred.

The Manlius limestone is seen most clearly and is the most abundant, while Coeymans limestone can be seen in the upper portion of the cave near the entrance. Coeymans limestone is more difficult to dissolve than the Manlius variety, so the water naturally chose a lower path through the Manlius layer. As a result, almost perfectly flat ceilings can be seen in parts of the cavern, which are actually the underside of the Coeymans limestone layer. Rondout waterred is the cream-colored rock that runs along the underground stream.

Scientists believe all of these rock layers were laid down by the ancient, extinct sea during the Silurian and Devonian periods of our Earth's formation. They are all sedimentary rock, formed by layers of deposits that settled out of a body of water which then were compressed into solid rock. To give you an idea of the age of these rocks, scientists estimate the Silurian Age began about 435 million years ago and ended when the Devonian Age began around 395 million years ago.

While there are a few fossils visible in the cavern walls, the main fossil beds lie in the layers of limestone above the cavern ceiling. This means the rock from which Howe Caverns is carved is older than most fossils. But the building process in Howe Caverns is never done!

Nature is still hard at work in the great cave, proven by the fact we still hear, see and feel the droplets of water falling from the walls and ceilings, always changing the cavern's face. It changes so slowly that the smudges left by smoking torches nearly a century ago can still be seen on the glowing flowstone walls today.

Stalactites, Stalagmites and Flowstone

Once the ancient subterranean stream cut its path through the limestone layers, marvelous formations called stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone began to form. These unique stone formations grow at an unbelievably slow rate: only about one cubic inch (about the size of a small ring box) will form in 100 years.

When rainwater seeps down through the soil above, it picks up a very, very small amount of limestone as it travels. In fact, there is only about a teaspoon of limestone dissolved in every gallon of rainwater that filters through the surface above the caverns. As this rainwater drips slowly through the cave's roof, the droplets of water evaporate, leaving behind tiny amounts of limestone on the cavern ceiling. In this way, stalactites grow downward from the vaulted cavern roof, particle by particle, over the course of millions of years.

The stone formations, which grow up from the cavern floor, are created in the same manner. Sometimes, large droplets of water filtering through the cave roof do not have time to evaporate before they roll down a stalactite and drip off to the cave floor below. That's why stalagmites usually form directly below stalactites and continue to grow up and up as more droplets fall from above. In some cases, such as the grand Pipe Organ formation at Howe Caverns, stalactites and stalagmites will actually grow together to form columns. (By the way, it's easy to remember the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. The word "stalactites" contains the letter "c" - like the word "ceiling." "Stalagmite" uses the letter "g" and so does the word "ground." Stalactites grow from cavern ceilings, while stalagmites grow upward from the ground!)

Flowstone is formed in much the same way as stalactites and stalagmites, except the water flows down the cavern walls. This wonderful rock formation resembles sheets of frozen, rippling ice. Other minerals in the water that carry the limestone give flowstone, stalactites and stalagmites their colors. With the exception of the colors created by lights in the cavern, all of the colors you see at Howe Caverns are completely natural. Rust-colored formations are caused by the presence of iron in the dripping water. Green is from waterborne copper. Gray indicates the presence of aluminum oxide. Yellow and bronze are from dissolved sulphur. Pure calcite makes milky, translucent, white formations.

To log this Earth Cache you must post a photo of you and your GPS on the Howe Cave property (above ground or below ground) and answer 5 of the 10 following questions. Email me the answers- DO NOT POST them in your log. I reserve the right to delete logs that do not following the logging requirements.

1. The cave length is approximated at 1.75 miles. When Lester Howe began his tours in 1843 he estimated the length of the cave at how many miles?

2. What are cave “kisses”?

3. What do cows have to do with Howe Caves?

4. What is the average temperature of the cave year round?

5. What causes the stream water in the cave to rise and fall?

6. What is the name of the original land owner of Howe Cave?

7. What is the name of the largest stalagmite in Howe Cave?

8. How thick is the calcite heart at the bridal altar?

9. How long is the winding way?

10. Estimate the size of the larger stalactite above the balancing rock.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Lbh pna svaq gur nafjref gb gur Rnegu pnpur n srj qvssrerag jnlf - ivfvgvat gur zhfrhz ng gur Ubjr Pnir Ybqtr, fcrnxvat gb n Ubjr Pnir rzcyblrr, be gnxvat gur genqvgvbany gbhe bs gur pnir (cyrnfr pnyy sbe pheerag cevprf).

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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