How long can you keep a secret?
Do these hills look like they are hiding anything special?
|Pictures and text by Kathryn|
In 1974 two college friends stumbled upon the find of a lifetime, a hidden cave. And not just any ordinary cave, one filled for miles with stalactites and stalagmites, formations called soda straws, bacon, and moonmilk. For years they carefully explored the cave, making a third friend stay at the entrance to ensure that they actually made it out alive. They had secret codes so that no one knew where they were going or what they were doing. In 1978 they decided to notify the land owners, James and Lois Kartchner, of their discovery. Thankfully James worked in education and understood the value of keeping the cave protected. They knew that historically, once discovered by the general population, caves were often destroyed and vandalized. They wanted to keep this cave preserved in its natural state. In 1984 secret talks began the process of turning the cave into a state park. More than a decade later, in 1999, KartchnerCaverns was open to the public. In 2003 the lower caverns were also opened to the public.