. . . 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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bridal Cave

Today we went to visit Bridal Cave in Camdenton, Missouri, about a half hour south of where we're staying here in Osage Beach. Of course we left early in the morning so that we could try to beat the heat of the day with being out and about and not in the water like we were yesterday. Yesterday we spent hours at the lake, then ate lunch, then spent more time at the pool, then middle son and I went to the lake again. It was the relaxing day we intended for our first day here. But today a little bit of exploring!

The Bridal "Veil" in the Chapel
Bridal Cave was discovered by the Osage Indians centuries ago. It lies beneath Thunder Mountain and is said to be the site of the legendary Native American ceremony in the early 1800's. In keeping with the tradition of the Native American Legend (which I will include below), the cave can be reserved for a romantic wedding chapel. Of course, it costs money to do so. If we had such money we'd have arranged for my in-laws to renew their 50-year-old wedding vows.

Here is the Legend of Bridal Cave:

Centuries before the paleface found his way into the Ozark Mountains, this vicinity was inhabited by the Osage Indians.  Within the Osage tribe many smaller tribes were formed.  The following incident is a legend which brought romance and tragedy to this section of the Ozarks and gave the names to many places as they are known today.
Conwee, son of Chief Neongo of the Big Hills (a tribe of the Osage group, which lived on the north shore of what is now known as Ha Ha Tonka State Park), fell in love with Wasena, daughter of Elkhorn, Chief of the Little Hills, who lived on the north side of the Osage River near the junction of the Niangua, and greatly desired that she become his wife.  Neither Wasena nor her father looked with favor on his intentions, Conwee however was not to be discouraged.  He left his camp at Ha Ha Tonka one dark night with a number of his braves, crossed the Osage River near the junction of the Niangua and kidnapped Wasena and her companion, Irona.  Hastily, recrossing the Osage River, Conwee started back to Ha Ha Tonka.  As dawn approached and threatened to reveal them to their pursuers, they decided to stop at the cave, now known as Bridal Cave, and conceal their captives.  After a short time in the cave, Wasena eluded her captors and ran swiftly toward a high cliff that towers two hundred feet above the Niangua River.   When Conwee had her almost within his grasp. she reached the edge of the cliff and without even a backward glance sprang over the the brink into the valley below, choosing death rather than life with one she did not love.  From that day forward this cliff has been known as "Lover's Leap".
The fate of Wasena's companion, Irona, was very different.  She had long loved Prince Buffalo, another son of Chief Neongo of the Big Hills Tribe, and brother of Conwee.  After a period of mourning over the death of Wasena was ended, Irona and her Prince Buffalo chose to be married in the cave where she and Wasena had been held captive in the beautiful stalactite - studded room now known as the Bridal Chapel, and gave the name "Bridal Cave" to the scene of the nuptials. from "Indian Romances" by Col. R.G. Scott
Now, I give you this story here because I learned it from the Bridal Cave website. If I  hadn't visited the website, none of us would know the story behind the name. When listening to the tour guide, she said nothing about the Native American legend. She also said nothing about the geology of the cave nor the names of the cave features we saw. She never described what we saw: draperies, soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites....she did, however, mention that the water dripping down in the cave takes seven years to reach the formations from the surface and that the cave is 250 feet below Thunder Mountain. Another thing I could not believe was that there were no pamphlets of any kind describing the geology, history, formations, or anything. I asked. I guess they don't read pamphlets in Missouri.

The RockWall
But, aside from my complaints including hearing the guide mispronounce the mineral name manganese and the rock shop misidentifying a rock that was obviously a schist as adventurine the mineral (the mineral was in the schist but only as inclusions), the cave itself was quite beautiful. There were a number of "rooms" with fantastic draperies and columns and at the end of the trail there was the gorgeous Mystery Lake, which the guide claimed to be 35 feet deep. At the bottom of the lake were some timbers and a ladder that nobody knows how or when it got there.

So yes, visit Bridal Cave, but do some research before you go and learn about cave geology and formations so you'll know what you're seeing when you tour.

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