We would like to congratulate the West Liberty Business Association May 2023 Business of the Month Ohio Caverns.
The cavern was discovered on August 17, 1897 by a 17-year-old farm hand that was investigating a low spot on the farm he was working on. After digging to remove mud and debris, he discovered a crack in the Limestone bedrock. He widened that crack, lowered himself down into the earth, and explored the first 802 feet of the cavern with an oil lantern. This cavern entrance was on the property of Mr. Abraham William Reams. Mr. Reams opened the cave to local friends and family just ten days later on August 27, 1897, and opened to the public September 9, 1897. Early visitors explored the cavern by crawling with oil lantern light and experienced only about ⅓ of what we now know exists to the cavern system. Unfortunately, this ⅓ was severely damaged due to the lack of rules, so many formations were removed as souvenirs and visitor’s wrote their names all over the walls and ceilings, which are still visible in that section today.
The Smith Family came up from Dayton and decided to invest in the property and make the cavern more accessible. They purchased the land across the road (where the present-day park resides) and Mr. Reams’ property and cavern entrance by 1922. Over the next three years they dug out the cavern with the help of local farmhands, and carried mud and rock out of the cavern with buckets and shovels, creating walking paths and installing lighting along the way. This digging also revealed the deeper, more scenic areas of the cavern, which led to the closure of the heavily damaged (Historic) section in 1925. By Decoration Day (Memorial Day) 1925, Ohio Caverns was open just as we know it today. Tours remained the same from that point on until 2012, when we re-opened the Historic section, and a brand new handicap-accessible entrance to the public throughout the summer months. Ohio Caverns is known as “America’s Most Colorful Cavern”. It’s exquisite mineral deposits, color, and pure-white formations are unlike most.
Ohio Caverns is open year-round. The cavern is always 54 degrees, so it is a great place to visit and explore year-round! During the peak season, Ohio Caverns employs 35-40 people, most of which are high school or college students. Many of our local schools, clubs, organizations, and families from across the globe visit us every day to see what the cavern has to offer. These people are also eager to explore and visit other local attractions, restaurants, and shops. With an average of over 60,000 visitors on an annual basis, it brings many new faces to our community!
Ohio Caverns' hours are 10am-4pm October 1-April 30, and 9am-5pm May 1-September 30. Closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Be sure to stop in to Marie’s Candies located at 311 Zanesfield Rd., West Liberty to enjoy Ohio Caverns' favorite treat, the Crystal Kings. Also, Stoner’s Ice Cream Parlor will be featuring a sundae that is yet to be determined.
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