Amazed by Arkansas: Blanchard Springs Caverns

    9:53 PM, Jun 28, 2012   |    comments
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    Photo Gallery: Amazed by Arkansas: Blanchard Springs Caverns
    Blanchard Springs

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Deep below the Ozark National Forest lies a wonder that only nature can provide.

    The Blanchard Springs Caverns in North Arkansas have been wowing visitors since the 1970s.

    In the early 1900s, locals in Stone County discovered what in now Blanchard Springs Caverns.

    Toni Guinn, Visitor Information Specialist at Blanchard Springs Caverns says cave exploration didn't get going until the 60s.

    "To drop in a 100 foot pit is not something that most people really don't want to do, so we really didn't have much cave exploration prior to the 1960s."

    But, this mystic underworld existed long before that. Guinn says geologists believe the cave system began forming millions of years ago.

    "All the formation in the cave we see are basically calcium carbonated dissolved limestone and in order to get that crystal you have to have rainwater and you have to have limestone for that rainwater to go through."

    Now, a short elevator ride takes visitors to an enchanting depth where minerals paint a picture on an alien landscape.

    Mystique lighting illuminates nature's art.

    Guinn says the unique effect created by a well-known opera house lighting designer.

    "After he saw the cave and all the stuff he was going to have to do and the lighting and everything. He worked it out, it's very dramatic. But, after he worked here he said I'm done with that cave stuff.

    Another amazing element is the temperature. At 58 degrees-- this attraction provides an escape from the summertime heat.

    Mike Purtle from Southaven, Mississippi says that's one of its biggest draws this time of year.

    "58 degrees is excellent."

    Purtle visited Blanchard Springs Caverns in the 70s, now, he's brought his 16-year old daughter back to see its natural beauty. Purtle says the trip down below reminded him of what this cavern has to offer.

    "I forgot just how great it looked. It's just gorgeous. I just wanted to share that with my family."

    Mike's daughter, Lauren Purtle says she's happy to share in the experience.

    "I've never actually been in any sort of cave before. It was neat to see all the formations and everything down there."

    Another young visitor, 10-year old Matthew Zimmerman says he was able to spy out different pictures from the sculpted stone.

    "We saw this little thing that looks like a ship, a bald man getting up out of the water, a monkey sitting in timeout, and an indian."

    Guinn says the caverns offer a learning experience for every visitor.

    "They've only heard of maybe caves in relation to bad things and so when they come into the cave and they get the idea their underground and that this is underground. You've got this gorgeous place. They might start off a little scared. By the time the tour is over, they're very familiar and happy. That goes for adults too."

    Leaving you Amazed by Arkansas.

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