Organ Cave lies alongside the old Midland Trail, which began as an ancient buffalo trail. The settlers took advantage of the hardwood forest and fertile grasslands for their livelihood. By canoe, flatboat and wagon, these slowly made inroads into what was considered the western wilderness. Much of their success is due to the Old Saltpetre Route, a highway of nitre depots that supplied the government with much needed ingredients for making gunpowder for its artillery.
The birth of American Paleontology began when men working in the nitre works of the cave discovered the remains of a giant 3-toed sloth. When Thomas Jefferson presented the bones of the prehistoric 3-toed sloth to the Philosophical Society in Philadelphia; it was the very first of its species to be found in America.
European pioneers have known of Organ Cave since 1704, but archeological evidence demonstrates that Neolithic Native Americans had been visiting Organ Cave since at least 8000 BC. The ceilings and walls of Organ Cave are lined with fossilized coral (nodule chert), which is better known as flint. An important resource for Native Americans, Organ Cave provided an ample source 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.
Organ Cave derives its name from a massive calcite formation resembling an auditorium size pipe organ. Located approximately a half mile from the cave entrance, the Rock Organ is one of the highlights of walking tours. Early descriptions of the Rock Organ indicate that that the Rock Organ produced remarkable notes by striking on various curtains or draperies in the 40 foot column that gave “an exact reproduction of a large pipe organ”.
Organ Cave is probably the most historic cave in the USA. It houses the largest collection of Civil War Hoppers left in the USA that are located in one place. The first recording of the grizzly bear, the saber tooth cat, and the nine banded armadillo found here at the cave are the first to be recorded east of the Mississippi River. The walls serve as a museum for Native American writings and sketches plus many other writings and petroglyphs. The petroglyphs age and meaning are still unknown.
Pictures and information were provided by Organ Cave
West Virginia Home Page |
West Virginia Forts and Battlefields |
West Virginia Gardens |
West Virginia Historical Buildings |
West Virginia Museums
Copyright A View of America 1998 all rights reserved any and all content on this site is protected by law. Any use without written permission is strictly prohibited.