Organ Cave.

Organ Cave

Field review by the editors.

Ronceverte, West Virginia

Although we last visited in 2011, it's unlikely that much has changed since then in Organ Cave's sleepy subterranean redoubt. At that time we noted that one wall of the cave lodge was decorated with murderous-looking rusted saws and scythes, a giant Confederate flag, a JFK-era Civil Defense sign (Organ Cave once promoted itself as a nuclear war "Ark of Safety"), and a calendar that hadn't been flipped since March 1969. The calendar wasn't trendy retro decor. It had simply been hanging there for 42 years.

Prehistoric three-toed giant sloth toes.
Prehistoric three-toed giant sloth toes.

The "organ" of Organ Cave is one of its dripstone formations, as is the Frozen Waterfall, but the cave is better known for its human history. Saltpeter mining in the cave turned up the bones of the first prehistoric three-toed giant sloth. Sometimes the cave claims that the sloth was unearthed by future President Thomas Jefferson, other times it just says that he identified it. A forearm and paw of the giant beast are displayed in the lodge, along with bones, arrowheads, and other junk found in the cave's 45 miles of mapped passages.

A tour of Organ Cave features a stop at a battered shed filled with equally battered food (cans of Civil Defense crackers and barrels of water) set aside for atomic Armageddon survival, as well as unique displays of saltpeter mining carried on by "Confederate Soldiers" -- female showroom dummies with stringy beards.

Since 2005 Organ Cave has been owned by Creationists, which gives it yet another odd distinction. Its promotional literature claims that, "All our walking tours are based on the Book of Genesis found in the King James Version of the Bible," and that its visitors will, "Walk the trails formed by Noah's flood."

Organ Cave

Address:
242 Organ Cave Drive, Ronceverte, WV
Directions:
From US Hwy 219 in the town of Organ Cave turn east onto Hwy 63 and drive about a mile. Look for the sign on the right.
Phone:
304-645-7600
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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In the region:
Greenbrier Ghost Trial Marker, Sam Black Church, WV - 17 mi.

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August 20, 2018

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