Lewis & Clark Caverns

Trip Start May 25, 2009
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Trip End Jun 23, 2009


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What I did

Flag of United States  , Montana
Monday, June 8, 2009










 

 
The rain in Helena turned into snow shortly after we woke up this morning.  We decided that the best thing to do with lemons is to make lemonade, and the best thing to do with rain is to head inside to somewhere nice and dry – like a cave!  About an hour south of Helena in Three Forks is a state park that gives two-hour tours of the Lewis & Clark Caverns.  The name is a misnomer because although in 1805 Lewis & Clark's party did follow the Jefferson River below the cave, they failed to notice the small entrance 1400 feet above the valley floor.  It took several more years before the caves were officially discovered by another group.

 





 
Later the area was more thoroughly explored by a local miner who hand-carved 600 steps in the rock and started giving 12-hour cave tours to visitors by candlelight.  Finally, 103 years after Lewis & Clark had passed them by, Teddy Roosevelt named the caverns after the more famous expedition and declared them America's 15th national monument.

 








Today cave tours take only 2 hours to complete.  The original stone steps are still in use but the Montana State Park system has added concrete ones as well to cover about 40% of the cave on each tour.  The original tours only reached about 25% of the cave, so obviously between then and now there has been significant discoveries inside the cave as well as dynamite blasting to make all of the larger rooms accessible!
Of course having electric lighting helps quite a bit too.  ;)

 
 



 
My cousin’s husband gets the "Biggest Sport" award for enduring almost constant ducking and crawling:  Yes, the rest of us had to do some of this as well, but at 6’7 he had to do a lot more of it than most!  Jim reports that he was hitting his head on the ceiling of the RV during our tour yesterday also - Poor thing needs an Alfa!  ;)

 
 
 


After we got home from the cave we had a double-elimination team pool tournament, at which Jim and I won top honors.  Then we played a Monopoly-like board game called “Settlers of Catan” until bedtime.  It was a long day, but I think the Super B is as tired as we are, because when we got back into it around 11:00 PM, almost all of our battery power had been depleted by the heaters.  Lucky for us we are not supposed to get any more snow or freezing temps tonight, plus we’ll be able to crank up the generator first thing in the morning so hopefully that will fix us right up.
 
 


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