. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Largest Cave in the Lakes Area

After a day out in the sun and heat and on the water (we rented a pontoon boat and tube for the afternoon yesterday), we decided to stay out of it all and explore Jacob's Cave in Versailles. Jacob's Cave is the largest cave in the Lake of the Ozarks area, 1/2 mile long, 70 feet down, and completely accessible for people with disabilities and baby strollers. It was the first commercialized cave in the area, opening in 1932 to tourists. At that time, people walked on wooden planks and used kerosene lanterns to explore.

A beautiful "room" at the end of the 1/2 mile trail
According to the Jacob's Cave home page (linked above):
"Jacob's Cave is famous for its depth illusion, reflective pools, ceiling sponge work, prehistoric bones (mastodon), bear, and peccary), and the world's largest geode. On the mile-long tour you will see every type of cave formation imaginable, from millions of "soda straws" and massive stalactites and columns, to delicate helictites. Evidence of six ice ages and three earthquakes can be seen in the cave. The temperature remains a constant 53 degrees inside the cave."
Cave "pearls" which actually do form around a tiny bit of sand
If you are interested in the cave formation and geology, visit this link: Jacob's Cave Geology. Of course I found it totally interesting and was glad to have something to read about the cave--much more impressed than information NOT available from the first cave we visited. Basically, the rock the cave was formed in is from the Silurian period 430 million years ago. The Silurian Sea was full of coral reefs and marine wildlife which created the dolomite rock that the cave was dissolved into. About 45 million years ago the area uplifted, forming the caves in the Ozark Plateau. Three earthquakes occurred in the area at 45 and 17 million years ago with the most recent being the New Madrid event in 1811-1812 at 8.1-8.3 magnitude on the Richter Scale. This event is written in every geology text because it is highly unusual to have such large earthquakes in the middle of a continent. The New Madrid earthquake was so strong that it forced the Mississippi River to run backwards for 6 days before changing its course when it started flowing toward the ocean again.
A column that has been fractured by the New Madrid earthquake
Jacob's cave was discovered by Jacob Craycraft, a miner in 1875. He may have gotten a map to the cave drawn by Spainards and found in the local library by Jacob. As Jacob was prospecting for new minerals he came across an animal hole along a fracture line and began digging, exposing a larger entrance that led him through the same 1/2 mile that makes up the cave tour. He autographed a stalactite with lead pencil, which still can be seen in the calcite. The cave has been known by man for 120 years and available to the public for 45 years. Click here for more History facts about Jacob's Cave.
Many soda straws decorated the cave ceiling

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