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DISCOVERY: THE MAGICAL LAND OF CRYSTAL FORMATIONS


Touring the Caverns

Come with us on an adventure through Lost River Caverns, nature's underground wonderland. A guided walking tour lasting 30 to 45 minutes covers approximately 1200 feet of paved walkways that are well lighted. Several ramps and eight steps (traversed in both directions) must be negotiated and nature as usual, did not allow us create a handicapped accessible tour. The temperature in the caverns is a constant 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) so a sweater or jacket is advisable and the walkways are often wet so walking shoes are also advised. Bring your camera too! There's a lot to discover in this magical land of crystal formations where the Lost River flows.

The cavern and gift shop/visitors' center are not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Front baby carriers are permitted. Back baby carriers are not recommended.

The following items are NOT permitted in the cavern: backpacks, oversized bags, strollers, walking sticks, umbrellas, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, video cameras, food and beverages.

Pets are not allowed in the cavern or gift shop/visitors' center. Please do not leave pets unattended in hot cars.

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Natural formations provide
spectacular special effects at
Hellertown's Lost River Caverns

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Caverns Discovery and History

During the late nineteenth century, an active limestone quarry operated where the parking lot is now located. The cavern entrance was first opened to the surface in 1883 by quarry workers when they ignited a black powder blast to remove limestone from the cliff face. The first systematic exploration of the caverns occurred in 1886 during an expedition sponsored by Lehigh University and was detailed in the Bethlehem Daily Times of that era.

In the years following the caverns discovery, local residents found the underground spaces ideal for a variety of uses including a ballroom. During the late 1800's a wooden dance floor was constructed in what is now called the Crystal Chapel and regular dances were held in the natural air conditioning of the cave.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the cave's colorful history includes college fraternities holding initiation ceremonies in some of the further underground chambers and bootleggers preferred the caves dark recesses to secretly store their wares during the prohibition era.

In 1929 the cavern was purchased with the intention of creating a commercial show cave and in 1930 after handrails, lighting and walkways were installed, the cave was opened to the public. One large well decorated room was dedicated as a chapel and between 1949 and 2009 was offered for ceremonial use. The Crystal Chapel was the site of over 100 ceremonies and provided the perfect setting for a unique and memorable celebration.

Cavern Geology

Geologists tell us that the cavern began forming within the last 250,000 years. Rain water seeps down through cracks and crevices in the rock and slowly dissolves the limestone to form these unique chambers and passageways. Continual seepage from rainfall and melting snow removes still more minerals from the rock above the caverns, and deposits them on the cave floor, walls and ceiling creating crystalline rock formations with fascinating shapes. These processes are still occurring at this time.

Limestone, a sedimentary rock formed at the bottom of the ocean, is material that sinks to the bottom and accumulates in thick

deposits which gradually compact into solid rock. Geologists have analyzed the limestone in which Lost River Caverns is formed. Named the Leithsville formation after a small village just south of the cave, the limestone of this region is a variety of dolomite laid down during the Cambrian geologic age. A secondary type of rock found in the cavern is shale. The layers of shale, sandwiched between much larger layers of limestone, represent periods in earths distant past when ocean levels receded. These drops in sea level resulted in regions that were once ocean bottom, becoming dry land (the shale actually represents lake bottom).

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Alternating Layers of Limestone and Shale



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Gems, Gifts and Supplies

A dazzling array of gems, minerals and crystals along with lapidary equipment can be found at Lost River Caverns. Be sure to check out the custom made jewelry, semi-precious and precious stones, along with mountings and supplies to create your own jeweled-treasure. Don't forget the gift shop with its assortment of unique souvenirs. For your convenience, you can also visit our online store.

The Gilman Museum

Collected through the years and passed down through three generations, the museum contains rare fossils, unique minerals, gems stones, interesting antiquities, curiosities and paleoanthropological items. The museum is also home to a collections of antique weapons dating back to the 17th century.

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Magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations.

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Nature Trail Entrance

Nature Trail

A scenic 1800 foot trail traversing approximately two acres of wooded land is available for visitors use at no cost. The trail forms a bisected loop that can be rugged and steep, and takes 15 to 20 minutes to hike. Twelve

stations with questions pertaining to terrain features and the cave are located along the route. Endemic plant and animal species can be seen in this wooded copse.

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The Gem Mill

The Gem Mill

A functional reconstruction of a nineteenth century mining operation, the Gem Mill provides fun and excitement as you uncover your very own gemstones at our water operated sluice. Bags for panning at the Gem Mill are sold in the gift shop.

Let's Picnic!

Bring your picnic basket and enjoy the peaceful Picnic Grove with its covered bridge overlooking Silver Creek. The creek winds through a lovely shaded grove creating the perfect place to enjoy an outdoor lunch. Covered pavilions with picnic tables are conveniently located in the grove.

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Covered bridge at the Picnic Grove

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Crystal Chapel Altar

Come Join Us

Lost River Caverns and Gilman's at the Cave are open every day except Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, New Year's day and Easter morning. Frequent guided tours of the caverns leave throughout the day.

Please call or e-mail us for special group rates or with other questions.

Directions

We're easy to find just off Route 412 in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. Click to view an interactive map of the area and directions from various locations or call (610) 838-8767. Click here for a QR code image of our address that can be scanned with a smart phone for your GPS.

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Cave Family Photo-Op

Hours and Cost

For more information, please see our About Lost River Caverns page. Hours of Operation, Cost of the Tour, Address, Phone numbers, E-mail and more can be found there.