Jun 17, 2014

Visit Howe Caverns in Schoharie County, NY

New York State is fortunate to have so many unique places to visit.
One of those places is Howe Caverns which I found just as impressive on my third visit as I did on my first two visits decades ago. Howe Caverns took six million years to create and it is not finished yet but the change is slow. Even if the changes in the caverns are not discernible other changes are.
There is now a rock wall, zip lines, and even a bungee-style activity for those looking for thrills.  There were several high schools participating in the thrilling activities undoubtedly as part of a physic exercise.  More physic experiments take place on the H2OGO Balls
that were added last year. The nice young men in charge of the Balls explained the physics saying that the rider does not rotate but floats on the water in the ball as it rolls down the hill. I saw similar 
thrill-makers in New Zealand where the balls originated but the person was strapped in and rotated – too scary.  One of the young workers said, “All of these activities are great “starter” experiences for those who want to ratchet it up some other time.” I think the Howe Cavern version sounds like a better experience at least for first time thrill seekers. They still have their “mining” experience where youngsters were excitedly finding gems. This was a favorite add-on for the elementary school groups. I was only a spectator but at one time I would have loved to try some of the activities.  

Our tour of Howe Caverns started with the animatronic Lester
Howe inviting people in and explaining how he found the cave.  (I love animatronics.)  The Native Americans and some others knew about the cave but it was Howe who popularized it.  As he explained, he noticed cows gathering at a certain spot on hot days and when he checked it out he found an opening emitting fresh cool air. With the owner of the property he spent several days exploring over a mile of the underground passageways using only the dim light from a small oil lamp. In some places they had to crawl. Seeing the potential Howe bought the property for $100.   He developed the cave to make it more visitor-friendly. Over the years more changes took place as ownership changed. 

Today visitors, after being greeted by Mr. Howe, descend 156-feet below the surface in an elevator and are led on a tour that includes a boat ride. I forgot how impressive the boat ride is.  The sound of the waterfalls increased to a roar as we approached the barrier at the end of the lake and then when the light was turned off the total darkness was amazing. The narrated tour passed fantastic formations – ‘tis truly an amazing world.

The ticket price includes a discount to the Iroquois Indian Museum
just down the road. The museum, in a building shaped like a longhouse, has many historical displays and currently has a thought-provoking art display called “Standing in Two World: Iroquois in 2014.” John and I did not have time to see everything before they closed so we returned the next day which was easy to do because we spent the night at the Howe Caverns Motel.  The motel is located just below the main Howe Caverns building and has a beautiful view of the countryside.