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About Us

Get To Know Us

Lost River Caverns and Gilman’s “at the cave” have been in business continuously since 1930 offering tours of the caverns and a full line of products for all aspects of jewelry making. We carry a wide selection of findings, gem stones, metals and tools, lapidary supplies and equipment, and much more! Also be sure to check out our variety of minerals and crystals for sale. We look forward to welcoming you, whether you’re coming for a tour or to shop the store!

Hours of Operation

Date

Hours

Summer Hours

(Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day)

Store Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm Daily

Cavern Tours: 9:30am-5:30pm daily. 

Tours depart every half hour, or more frequently.

Winter Hours

(September through May)

Store Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm Daily

Cavern Tours

Monday-Friday hourly 10:00am-4:00pm

Saturday and Sunday every half hour 9:30am-4:30pm

New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve Store Hours: 9:00am-3:00pm

Cavern Tours: 9:30am-2:30pm

New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas CLOSED
Easter Sunday Store Hours: 12:00pm-5:00pm

Cavern Tours: every half hour 12:00pm to 4:30pm

a colorful bus parked at a park

Group Tours

Group rates are available with a minimum of 15 paid admissions.

MINIMUM 3 WEEK ADVANCED RESERVATION REQUIRED to qualify for group rates.

Time restrictions apply on weekends and holidays. Please contact us for more details.

Group Tours

a colorful bus parked at a park

Group rates are available with a minimum of 15 paid admissions.

MINIMUM 3 WEEK ADVANCED RESERVATION REQUIRED to qualify for group rates.

Time restrictions apply on weekends and holidays. Please contact us for more details.

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.

diagram

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).

Cavern Geology

diagram

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).