Organ Cave lies alongside of the old Midland Trail, which began as an ancient buffalo trail. We found a bison premolar in August 2014 in the cave. The settlers took advantage of the hardwood forest and fertile grasslands for their livelihood. By canoe, flatboat and wagon, these pioneers slowly made roads into what was considered the western wilderness.
Much of their sucess is due to the Old Satpetre Route, a highway of nitre depots that supplied the government with much needed ingredients for the making of gun powder for its artillery. In his Notes of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson recorded that at least fifty nitre caves rested along the Greenbrier River, and these were all used as a source of income.
This was the beginning of a new attitude among settlers, who saw caves as useful resources.They were used as refrigerators, large storage units, and even meeting places. Early records of land transactions carefully note the presence of caves, paticularly saltpetre caves, and cavern-fed springs for good water.
European pioneers have known of Organ Cave since 1704, but archeological evidence demostrates that Native Americans have been visiting Organ Cave since 800 BC. The ceilings and walls of Organ Cave are lined with nodule chert which is better known as flint. An important resource for the Native Americans, Organ Cave provided an ample souce of flint that could be crafted into arrowheads, knives and fire making tools. The numerous arrowheads and cutting tools found in and on the grounds surrounding Organ Cave are an indication of the Native American activity that has taken place at and inside Organ Cave. We have also found writing on the walls, belived to be that of Native American.
Above photos of arrow heads and large chunks of flint from the cave. Beside the flint are 3 small rocks that have patterns cut into them that we believe are from Native Americans. These same patterns have also been found cut into the cave walls. We have found 3 hubs from the stagecoach era. We have also found horseshoes and rasps.
Beginning in 1822, stagecoaches ran regularly between resorts in White Sulphur Springs and Salt Suphur Spings carrying passengers and mail. At this time, the cave was known as "John Roger's Stage Coach Stop". The tours were given of the cave while the horses rested and repairs done to the coach. Candles were used to light the tourist way into the cave and the cost was 10 cents per person. After the stage coach era from 1822 to 1836, the cave was open to all public in 1835. This cave was one of the earliest commercial caves to open for tours in the United States.
We are told by historians that we are one of the most historic caves in the USA. We are a National Landmark of Historic Places, A National Natural Landmark and are on the Civil War Trail. Organ Cave is the 2nd longest commercial cave on the east coast. The caves houses the largest collection of Civil War Hoppers, V-Nats, left in the USA that are located in one place. We have remains of hoppers of the War of 1812 in what we call the wild section of the cave. These hoppers are only accessible by an expedition tour. The cave is thought to have been used during the American Revoluntary War also.
The first recording of the saber tooth cat, the nine banded armadillo and grizzly bear to be found east of the Mississippi River was here at Organ Cave. The walls serve as a museum for Native American writings and petroglyphs. The age and meaning of these writtings are still unknown.
Mapping of the cave started in 1948 by Robert Handley, now deceased. Thus far, it has taken over 400 men and women to map and survey the cave as is now. We still have over 200 leads that have not been mapped nor surveyed. When The History Channel was here in 2008, they say they found in their research over 70 miles of cave. The Va. and Wv. Cave Consevatories say the doubt if we will ever find the end.
This kiln was built in the mid 1800s. It was used to make lime and potash. It took a skilled person to load the kiln with limestone rock and wooden logs. The rocks and logs had to be placed so not to form gas pockets and cause an explosion when lit. The kiln itself was made from sandstone rocks. This was made like keystone. Every rock was placed to hold the other rock up without mortor or any other substance to keep it in place. The placeing of these rocks took great skill and a strong back. This was filled with a layer of limestone than a layer of wood, then another layer of rock and so fourth. The wooden logs were used to start the fire. This fire would burn for about a week and it took another week for it to cool down. If the fire got too hot, the sandstone rock would turn to glass. This furnace had to be maintained to a certain temperature to break down the limestone rock but not destroy the kiln. The heat would cause the rock to crumble and become like sand. This, with the wood burning creating pot ash, was all used to spread on the farmers fields. This could also be used to make quick lime. Someone stayed with the furnace day and night to maintain it while it was burning. They told tales of the workers stealing chickens off nearby farms and cooking them over the heat of the chimney while they were keeping the furnace going.
This kiln is in the shape of a bottle. The bottom of the kiln is about 12 feet across. and at one time it was about 3 to 4 feet about the level of the ground which served as a chimney. The arms are about 8 feet long. There was an old building setting in front of it. This is where they stored the cooled down lime. The walls of the building had writing on them where they bartered with other farmers for the lime. They would trade other things or labor for so much lime. Not much money was transferred during these times. The walls of the building had sawdust in them to absorb the moisture in the air so the lime would stay dry and not clunk up.
To our knowledge, this limekiln is the only one of its kind in West Virginia.
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242 Organ Cave Drive
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May through August
Tours are Monday thru Saturday 10 am to last tour at
3:45 pm. Each tour is about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Gift shop is open till last tour out.
Closed on Sundays in honor of the Lord's Day.
September and October
All walking tours are at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm Gift Shop is closed during these tours
All exploring expeditions & fossil hunts require reservations in advance,walking tours do not unless large groups or schools or in winter months
November thru To April 1st
all tours are by reservation only, must call ahead
Military, Police officers, Firemen and EMS personel with ID 15% off the Walking Museum Trail only
Group Tours, Schools Tours
Family Tours of 5 or more on walking tours only
Extended Expeditions of 10 people or more