by Tami Wenger, Gloryland Ministries (Written in 2010)
It all started in 1897 because seventeen year old farm hand, Robert Noffsinger was curious. After a little digging in a low soft area of a field where rain water seemed to be disappearing quickly, he discovered a crevice which led into the caverns, today known as The Ohio Caverns. Located in the Northeastern part of Salem Township, outside of West Liberty: it is the largest cavern in Ohio and the most colorful of caverns in America.
Tours were offered the same year the cavern was discovered but they were not guided and you were on your own. By 1922, more passageways were opened, electric lights lit your path and a tour guide led the way. In 1925 the original section was closed and a new section was opened which included more beautiful scenery.
Today, tours are offered at frequent intervals, and while waiting for your tour to begin, you can browse the great souvenir gift shop, do a little gem mining or check out the 35 acre park.
Once you get started, you are thirty-five feet underground and the temperature is always a cool 54 degrees through out the year. As you weave through the path, sometimes narrow, many natural wonders meet your eyes. The Stalactites, which form from the ceiling down hang “Tite” to the ceiling and the Stalagmites created from the drips of water above, hope the “Mite” reach the ceiling someday.
When a Stalactite and Stalagmite grow to meet it is called a column. Duel formations can also be seen which means there is secondary growth. The Soda Straw, a small thin formation resembling a straw can be found. Another type of formation is called the Helactites, which form from the end of a straw growing at different angles, defying gravity. The beauty is breath taking!
Fifty-five feet, sixty-seven feet and at The Caveman's Couch you reach the half-way point. The lowest you go is 103 feet, yet you wouldn't guess that as you were walking. There is the Natural Bridge, Crystal Sea, The Old Town Pump and the Cert Rock Glasses. The following rooms are magnificent, The Fantasy Room, The Big Room Jewel Room, and The Palace of the Gods. Tucked into a recess is the oldest and move impressive formation of all, The Crystal King, which is 200,000 years old, five feet tall and growing!
The colors seen trough out are amazing! A beautiful mixture of different hues all naturally made by the hand of God. The Columbus Gray Limestone, Chert Rock and Blue Ohio Shale. Iron deposits make yellows, oranges and reds: while purples, blues and blacks are from Manganese deposits. Lets not forget the brilliant white from crystal formations.
An Historic Tour opened in 1997 celebrating 100 year anniversary, bringing an extension to the regular your by reopening the old 1987 section, to share the history of the Ohio Caverns. Either tour is a wonderful way to experience the beauty beneath us.
West Liberty History Stories
West Liberty, Ohio was established in 1817. Read a sampling of our village's 200+ years of history or SUBMIT YOUR OWN STORY for all to enjoy!