meramec caverns

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The word “Welcome”, greets visitors at the entrance to Meramec Caverns. A large group of people sit and converse in anticipation of the tour to begin. While waiting, visitors gaze at the small wooden cabin replica that has no historical accuracy. After waiting for no more than thirty minutes, the tour guide appears, and instructs of the rules, and the “do’s and don’ts”. Once his little lecture is done, the tour begins. The tour lasts an hour in a half. Before visitors start the tour they all seem to zip up the jackets and roll down the sleeves. The cave is a constant sixty degrees from start to end.

Inside the cave the visitors enter the ball room. The room is very large and open, with a high vaulted ceiling. It is the largest open room of the cave. The air inside is very thin and is chilling. Each year the room is the site for different functions such as weddings and gospel events, one in the spring and one in fall. Voices amplify deeper in the cave. With the echoing screams of children it becomes impossible to hear the tour guide. A few of the guests became quite perturbed with the cute, but loud children and complain of the brood. “Sshhhhh” they say with a bitter attitude, adding more to the hub bub than they take away. After the noise calms the tour continued and traveled deeper into the real hideout of the notorious James Brothers. The James Brothers were two bandits who robbed banks and trains around the mid west. They used Meramec Caverns to take refuge to avoid capture from law enforcement that put a large bounty for them, wanted “dead or alive”.

Throughout the tour the James Brothers are mentioned. It is really their claim to fame. It is easy though to see why these bandits would love to hide from the authority in here. It has deep rooms and cavities to hide in, and it would be easy to get lost. If you were to get lost it could very well be deadly considering no clean water or food would be present.
In addition different civil war activities took place in the caves. They had one room was devoted to gunpowder alone. The advantages of the caverns were used by the North. Within the gunpowder room there was also a large pendulum that would always run North to South. It was used to show direction like a compass. The pendulum swayed with the smoothest stroke no variation from side to side. With its slow lumbering swing the sheer weight could be felt.

Some of the sights aren’t what they appear to be. One very deceiving illusion regards the depth of the stream. The stream flow through the whole cave system, at its deepest point, it is less than two feet but with the lights shining on the water makes it look to have a depth comparable to a large lake. As visitors finish viewing of these cave marvels you will enter a unique theater, instead of a regular movie screen the projector will be displayed against a large wall of black onyx that comes off as more of brown sandstone. The wall is more than seventy feet high. As visitors leave the cavern tour the smell of rock and mud fades and the temperature increases. Before the parking lot the guests will pass the gift shop that has this quaint country feel and it is almost impossible to leave empty handed. It has a variety of cave knick knacks along with official Meramec Caverns clothing. With all of the sights that Meramec Caverns offers it is easy to see why such large crowds of people come to visit every weekend.





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