Thursday, August 13, 2015

Indian Echo Caverns and Chocolate World. (PA 2015, Part 2)

So, I'm back. I feel some sort of serious accomplishment, managing two posts in one week. It's a meeeeericle! It may or may not have something to do with the fact that my big kids started school this week, but I'll save that for another post...

My dad has been wanting to take us to Indian Echo Caverns, for a while now, and this trip we finally managed to fit it in. Seriously, it was really cool. And literally cool. As in 52° year round in the caverns. 

They even have a little petting zoo and playground to keep the kids occupied while you wait for your tour group.

Mom and dad. I love them!

So the caverns are underground, and to get to them, you've gotta walk down a bunch of stairs (and then back up, when you leave). It wasn't a big deal for someone so young and athletic as I am (ahem), however I felt the need to throw that information out there, in case you were wanting to plan a trip there right away.

Make sure you have a jacket, even in the middle of summer, because it is chilly in there (especially if you're from Florida!).

Here's a little history for the Indian Echo Caverns website:
The first visitors to Indian Echo Caverns, most likely were the Susquehannock Indians. They lived along the Swatara creek, upon which the mouth of the caverns sits. It is currently believed that they used the caverns as a refuge during inclement weather because of the constant 52° temperature inside the caverns. The Susquehannock vanished from the area in the 1670's leaving the region around the caverns virtually unoccupied.

The first non-Native American explorers of the caverns were most likely French fur trappers. They traveled along the rivers and creeks of the north east during the latter part of the 17th Century and into the early 18th Century. Most likely they discovered the mouth of the caverns as they traveled on the Swatara Creek. These intrepid explorers wrote about their tales in the caverns attracting more and more explorers.

The Caverns were first opened to the general public in 1929, when Mr. John Bieber (not related to Justin) opened the doors to the caverns. Mr. Bieber realized that many people wishing to visit the caverns might be put off by the treacherous, uneven terrain that nature created. Bieber undertook a massive commercialization process, in which all of the pathways in the caverns were made safe for travel, as well as opening up many rooms closed off because of huge mineral deposits. The caverns were a natural Mecca of the region, attracting thousands of visitors in its first years. However, sadly, the caverns fell upon hard times during the Great Depression, and Mr. Bieber lost ownership to the bank. All was not lost, for in 1942, Mr. Edward S. Swartz, a Hershey native purchased the caverns. Today, the ownership of the caverns still remain in his family, with hundreds of thousands of visitors walking the paths of the Susquehannocks each year.

Like many caverns in the Mid-Atlantic states, Indian Echo Caverns is a limestone cave. Cut through Beekmantown limestone, they were formed through the erosive properties of water. As time progressed, geological forces led to an "uplift" of the surrounding limestone, eventually allowing more and more water to flow through the formation. As the water flowed over the limestone, it began to create small crevices, these small crevices led to larger ones, and eventually, over a series of years, it created the caverns as they are today.

After the caves, we spent some time at the Gem Mill Junction. Taite was a little too young for mining, so we just took selfies...

 And after mining for gems, we headed for the Hershey Kiss lined streets of Chocolate Avenue.

That's right. Hershey's Chocolate World.

The free, educational ride must have been very scary. I love this crazy sister of mine!

 Who loves to see a husband sporting a baby carrier?!? Me!

That's all for now.
Goodbye and so long, from some cute kids and a giant Jolly Rancher.

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