Indian Caverns


Useful Information

Image: location map, © Indian Caverns, with kind permission by Bill Wertz
Location: From Pennsylvania turnpike: Fort Littleton Interchange 13, follow Rt. 522 north to Mt. Union, take Rt. 22 west to Waterstreet then Rt. 45 to Indian Caverns. Bedford Interchange 11, follow Rt. 220 north to Duncansville, take Rt. 22 east to Waterstreet then Rt. 45 to Indian Caverns.
From interstate 80: Exit 20 at Woodland, take Rt. 970 south to Rt. 322 east to Philipsburg. Then follow Rt. 350 via Bald Eagle to Indian Caverns. Exit 23 at Milesburg, Take Rt. 220 south to Bald Eagle, turn left on Rt. 350 south to Indian Caverns. Exit 24 at Bellefonte, follow Rt. 26 south through State College to Pine Grove Mills, then take Rt. 45 west directly to Indian Caverns. Exit 25 at Lamar, Follow Rt. 64 south to State College, continue on Rt. 26 to Pine Grove Mills, then take Rt. 45 west directly to Indian Caverns.
From U.S. 322, at Boalsburg (east of State College) take Rt. 45 west to Indian Caverns.
From Pittsburgh, follow Rt. 22 east to Waterstreet then take Rt. 45 to Indian Caverns.
Open: APR by appointment.
MAY daily 10-16.
30-MAY to Labor Day daily 10-18.
SEP to OCT daily 10-16.
NOV-MAR closed. [2005]
Fee: Adults USD 9.95, Children (6-12) USD 4.95, under 5 free. [2005]
Classification:  Karst cave, horizontal cave. Ordovician Nealmont/Benner limestone.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=650m, VR=14m, T=13°C
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Kevin Patrick (2004): Pennsylvania Caves & other rocky roadside wonders, 248 pp, illus, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pa, USA.
p 6, 10, 28, 29, 45, 60-61, 76, 125-28, 129-30, 140, 143, 154-55, 166, 171, 226.
Ralph W Stome (1932): Pennsylvania Caves, Pennsylvania Geological Survey Fourth Series, Bulletin G3 p 82-86 survey, 2 photos.
Address: Indian Caverns, 5374 Indian Trail, Spruce Creek, PA 16683, Tel. +1-854-632-7578. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:22 $

History

 
more than 400 yearsknown to the Indians.
19th centuryknown to the white settlers.
1816oldest tag on the cave wall in the Writing room.
1816-1820used as a hideout by David Lewis, "The Robin Hood of Pennsylvania", and his band of robbers.
1928Lenore and Harold "Hubby" Wertz from nearby Tyron visited the cave and after some digging discovered Giant's Hall.
1928Hubby and Lenore Wertz began to develop the cavern then called Franklin Cave.
1928During construction work 400 years old arrowheads were found in the first room. A team of archaeologists and anthropologists excavated more than 500 artifacts belonging to the Mohawk and Algonquian tribes.
15-JUN-1929opened to the public as Historic Indian Cave.
1930'sname changed to Indian Caverns.


Description

Image: The Giant's Hall, © Indian Caverns, with kind permission by Bill Wertz.

Indian Caverns has three outstanding features:

  1. The geological features in the Room of the Fireflies.
  2. The archaeological findings of native Americans.
  3. The historical story of David Lewis, who used this cave as hideout.

The Grotto of the Wah Wah Taysee, also known as the Room of the Fireflies, derives its name from small glowing spots in the rock. When the room is totally dark, the ceiling looks like the night sky, with star-like spots scattered across it. Small deposit of radium embedded in the rock produce a low-level radiation and a glow of visible light. As there are no smoke deposits from torches or campfires, unlike the rest of the historic part of the cave, it is believed that the Indians shunned this room, possibly believing it to be the haunt of evil spirits.

Image: The Indian Council Room, © Indian Caverns, with kind permission by Bill Wertz.

The last paragraph is what the guides told for decades. Sounds good, but unfortunately it was a fake. Since 2004, when the first negotiations with the owners started, the Huntington County Cave Hunters, a local caving club, started to work on this cave. Samples of the luminescent spots where collected and analyzed by Prof. William B. White and the results published in Nittany Grotto News, volume 52 number 2. The chemical examination revealed that the spots are synthetic phosphor painted onto the ceiling, not a natural mineral.

However, this happened long ago, the zinc-cadmium sulfide which was used was developed in the 1920s for luminescent dials of watches and other displays. The development of the cave took place between 1928 and 1929, so it was probably placed before. The glowing became known in 1930 when it was described in the first edition of Pennsilvania Caves by R. W. Stone. It is unknown who faked the glowing light, probably the Wertzes, probably the previous owner who tried to sell the cave. It was the time of the cave wars, things like this happened, and it is not really astonishing. Pretty astonishing is the fact, that the luminescent colour still works almost unchanged after such a long time in the wet and cool conditions of the cave.

But the exploration and documentation by the cavers continued. During the years 2005 and 2006 the cave was surveyed and also nearby Bear Den Cave, which was connected by a surface survey. The results were published in 2007 in The Cave Hunter, together with historic maps from 1930 and 1968.

David Lewis, known as "The Robin Hood of Pennsylvania", was a notorious highwayman of the early Nineteenth Century. Calling himself an equalizer, he reputedly stole from the wealthy to assist the poor. He and his band of robbers used the cave as a hideout from 1816 until his apprehension in 1820.

Before his death, Lewis claimed to have hidden some $20,000 worth of gold - reportedly in the cave. Several treasure-hunters have spent years searching for this hidden loot. One resident of Franklin Township spent over twenty years in a vain search for it. Armed with a lantern and a ball of twine, used as a marker lest he become lost in the labyrinth of passages, he kept up his tireless search until death ended his quest in the early 1920s.


Images and most information on this page with kind permission by Bill Wertz. Visit the original  Indian Caverns site!


See also


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