|Crystal Grottoes||contact: Mr. Jerry Downs, (301) 432-6336.|
|Open to the Public! Maryland's Only Show Cave|
|Location and Hours of Operation:|
public showcave is a one hour drive from Baltimore and Washington, DC,
through Maryland's scenic Frederick Valley and South Mountain countryside.
Crystal Grottoes is located 1.5 miles outside of Boonsboro, MD, on State
Rt 34 in Washington County, just 6 miles from Antietam Battlefield and
18 miles from Harper's Ferry. From Baltimore and Washington, take US Rt.
70 west to US Alt 40, toward Boonsboro. You will pass over South Mountain
near the Washington Monument State Park, and descend to Boonsboro. Turn
left at Rt 34 (Shepherdstown Pike) and drive 1.5 miles to Crystal Grottoes.
Bring a picnic lunch!
Grottoes, the only commercial cave now open in Maryland, is also one of
the largest in the state. Nearly one half mile of passage was mapped in
The cave was discovered in 1920 as a result of quarry operations for road material. Drills penetrated the passages near the present entrance, and an opening was effected by blasting. Because of their beauty and commercial possibilities the caverns were spared in the quarrying: and, in 1922, after clearing and installation of electrical equipment, the caverns were opened to the public. The entrance house was originally a wooden structure. It was replaced in 1942 by the modern stone structure.
is developed on the east side of a broad subordinate anticline in the
Tomstown Dolomite with a dip of 20º E and a strike of N 30º
E. The pattern of the cave is strongly controlled by three sets of master
joints. The major influence is from those striking N-S, with subordinate
passages reflecting joints trending N 30º E and N 30º W. The
cave is essentially horizontal throughout its extent and the passages
are typically high and narrow. A great deal of brown and red clay fills
most of the cave to a considerable extent;
Entrance to the grottoes
is by a stairway in the entrance house. The first room is 8 feet below
the entrance house and is oblate in shape, being 30 feet long, 10 feet
wide, and 15 feet high. At each end it is pinched out by mud flows and
narrowing of the passage. This room originally contained a considerable
number of formations, but quarrying operations and clearing of passages
have removed them except along the west wall where flowstone and stalactites
are abundant. Connecting the entrance room with the rest of the cave is
a small tunnel 6 feet high that is reached by stairs going down 6 feet.
From this point on the cave is a series of fissure-like passages of unsurpassed
beauty. The fissures are uniformly 4 to 6 feet wide with ceiling heights
varying from 60 to 40 feet. The floor shows little change in elevation
throughout the cave. With the exception of the passage from the Blanket
Room to the exit, the passages are continuously lined or covered by formations.
Delicate drape-like stalactites, bacon rinds, and stout columns predominate.
The colors are generally pure white or buff with occasional deeper tints.
The passages forming Fairyland are studded with stalactites and stalagmites
of a delicate light blue hue.
(from ES3 -Caves of Maryland)
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