Woodward Cave

Red Panther Cave


Useful Information

Location: On Rt. 45 west of Milheim.
Open: 15-MAR to 31-MAR Mon-Thu by appointment, Fri-Sun 10-16.
01-APR to 15-MAY daily 10-16.
16-MAY to Labor Day daily 9-18.
Labor Day to 30-SEP daily 10-16.
01-OCT to 15-OCT Mon-Thu by appointment, Fri-Sun 10-16.
Last tour 1 hour before closing.
[2005]
Fee: Adults $10.50, Children (4-12) $5, Children (0-3) free.
Groups: Adults $8, Children (4-13) $4.
School Groups: Adults $5, Students $3.50, Teachers free, Drivers free.
Scout and YMCA Tours: Adults $6, Children (14-18) $5, Children (4-13) $3.50.
[2005]
Classification:  Karst cave,  river cave, Ordovician Nealmont/Benner limestone.
Light: electric
Dimension: T=4°C
Guided tours: D=60min, L=800m.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Kevin Patrick (2004): Pennsylvania Caves & other rocky roadside wonders, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pa, USA, 248 pp, illus. p 10, 29, 44, 45, 55-59, 74-75, 79, 113-117, 168-71, 228.
Ralph W Stome (1932): Pennsylvania Caves, Pennsylvania Geological Survey Fourth Series, Bulletin G3, p 49-53, survey, 3 photos.
Address: Woodward Cave, PO Box 175, Woodward Cave Dr., Woodward 16882-0175, Tel. +1-814-349-9800. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:29 $

History

 
1925developed and opened to the public.

Description

Woodward Cave was named after the nearby village Woodward. The large entrance of the cave was known to the local Seneca Indians for a very long time. A legend tells, the Indians buried their dead in the cave.

The cave is the ponor (swallow hole) for Pine Creek, at least during flood times. In dry times the river disappears before reaching the cave's entrance. The floods brought huge amounts of debris, clay and other sediments, and some cave passages were choked completely until the cave was developed in 1925 by local businesmen. They first built a diversion channel to carry the water down the valley. Since then no flooding has occured in the cave.

A nice idea are colourful Indian blankets, which are provided for visitor without warm clothes. Visitor groups with those blanket make a nice motive for photographs. But the blankets are really necessary, as the cave has only 4°C.

A 30m long entrance passage leads to the first chamber with a large speleothem called the Liberty Bell. A left hand turn leads to two fallen limestone blocks which rest on the floor. Passing through a narrower passage one comes to a room containing the Hanging Forest, one of the largest groups of stalactites in the cave. This group exhibits a considerable variety of shapes and sizes of pendant forms. Another passage brings one back to The Great Room, measuring 50m by 70m. At the foot of the steps leading to this room there is a hole in the floor where water can be seen. In a dry season the water can fall 20m.

In The Great Room speleothems abound, including small stalactites and pendant films, a few stalagmites, much flowstone, a large fallen block built up with dripstone called the Red Panther's funeral pyre, the large stalagmite Tower of Babel, and a dainty natural setting around a little pool called The Crystal Lake. The main passages are fairly level and only the first 30m are retraced.

The cave was known to the Native Americans as Red Panther Cave because of the following legend, which has been discovered and handed down on to us by the historical research of Colonel Henry W Shoemaker, of Me-Elhattan.


Text by Tony Oldham (2005). With kind permission.

Red Panther was the son of an aged Seneca Chief, whose tribe lived in the Valley of the Beech Tree. The beech tree from which the valley took its name was beloved by the Storm God, and was reverenced by the Indians throughout the entire section. The beech was immune from the lightning of the Storm God, and under it the tribe would gather during fierce electrical storms, knowing that beneath its protecting branches they would find shelter and safety.

Personal triumphs, however, turned the head of the Red Panther, and he became cruel and warlike. He respected neither the beech nor the Storm God, and often threatened to destroy the tree to show that he considered himself mightier than the Great Spirit. Finally, upon his return from an unusually successful hunting expedition, the young brave cut down the tree in spite of the pleadings of his aged father. Red Panther then ordered his favourites to cut it into proper lengths, and when this was done, the sticks were carefully laid in a heap and the proud warrior leaned forward to light the blaze himself.

As he did so, a sudden and terrific peal of thunder echoed from the clear sky, followed by a stroke of crimson lightning. The entire tribe was stunned by the shock for an instant, and upon their recovery, the lifeless body of Red Panther was discovered lying across the newly kindled fire. The Storm God had taken his revenge.

Mountain River, the young brave's father, was the first to reach his side, and lifted up his son's body tenderly. Not a mark of any kind was found on the corpse, but life itself had departed.

Hoping to appease the wrath of the Storm God, the chiefs of the tribe decided to place the body in the cavern in a near-by hillside, which had long been reverenced in religious ceremonials. After prolonged prayer, the mortal remains of Red Panther were taken to one of the largest of the chambers in the cave and placed in state. Chanting the tribal dirges, the guard of honour withdrew, leaving the corpse alone in its natural sepulchre.

After due time, in which all manner of supplication was offered, Mountain River and his chiefs returned to the cave, expecting that the Storm God would relent and restore the young man to life. Instead, they found that water from the roof of the cavern had fallen onto the body and the luxurious bier on which it rested, turning the whole into stone. The outline of the body were preserved in the rock formation, and fearing another sacrilege, Mountain River and his followers withdrew, leaving Red Panther to sleep his last sleep undisturbed.


Old legend of the Seneca Indians.


See also


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