Oregon Caves

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These formations are called Drapery

We’re spending the month of June on the southern Oregon Coast.  After that our plans are to head to Idaho and Montana for a few months.  I got sidetracked from my journal for awhile, but I’m going to catch up over the next week or two.

Oregon Caves is near the California-Oregon border in the Siskiyou Mountains. It was established as a National Monument in 1909.  I took a Ranger led tour through the cave.  There’s a lot of bending and crouching on the tour and many, many stairs.  Its very cold inside (44 degrees, the temperature of the inside of your refrigerator) and you’re warned to dress warmly.  Bruce chose not to go on the tour but took the drive up with me and waited outside.

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Lots and lots of stairs.

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According to our ranger guide, Elijah Davidson, a resident of nearby Williams discovered the cave in 1874.  His dog chased a bear into the cave and Elijah ran after the dog.  The story goes that he soon found himself in complete darkness and with only 3 matches in his pocket he soon realized his folly in chasing the dog.  After using the matches up he began trying to find his way out.

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Cave opening

Elijah navigated his way back out of the cave by following the sound of water back to The River Styx. (The River Styx runs through the cave.  In 2014 Congress added the river to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  It’s the only subterranean river in the system. ) Once he located the water he blindly walked or crawled in the freezing water until it exited the same entrance he had chased his dog into. Of course the dog was at the entrance wagging his tail and happy to see him.

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River Styx illuminated
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River Styx

The rock within the cave is marble.

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Marble walls

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Illuminated by a flashlight its possible to see the beauty of the marble.

At the surface above the cave water mixes with carbon dioxide in the soil, which then trickles into the bedrock.  This acidic ground water has carved the caverns inside and transformed the marble into amazing formations.

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These drapery formations are known as “bananas”

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Here the water dripping down from the surface has collected and created lovely patterns.  This same dripping which produced the surrounding walls over millions of years.

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This is known as the Ghost Room.  Its huge.  At one point in the tour you are above the room, then follow the steps down and across the floor of the room.

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The stalactites (on ceiling) and stalagmites (on floor) are caused by the ever present dripping.

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When the stalactites and stalagmites meet in the middle they form what is called a column.  As the dripping continues the column becomes thicker and thicker.

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The walkway is made of concrete.  It was originally covered with asphalt which was removed because of potential environmental damage.  This spot on the cement shows how the dripping water infused with carbon dioxide is making holes in the concrete.

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The park has a beautiful old hotel called The Oregon Caves Chateau.  Wildflower-44

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We ate a late lunch in the old style cafe in the hotel.  We were the only ones eating that late.

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Oregon Caves.  Well worth a side trip when traveling the coast of Oregon.