Harry T. (Harry Taylor) Gause.

Detailed description of scenes and incidents connected with a trip through the mountains and parks of Colorado, as accomplished by H.B.B. Stapler and Harry T. Gause, July 21-August 20, 1971 online

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Online LibraryHarry T. (Harry Taylor) GauseDetailed description of scenes and incidents connected with a trip through the mountains and parks of Colorado, as accomplished by H.B.B. Stapler and Harry T. Gause, July 21-August 20, 1971 → online text (page 12 of 14)
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feet in diameter and twenty feet high. It receives its name
from the beautiful cascade that falls into it from the ceiling.
Frank went behind the falling water and illumined the H a 1
It gave a superb effect to the crystal drops of water that were
separated in their descent from the main body, forming an
amber-tinted mist, when viewed in the red light.

This spot, especially, seemed to call forth more than the
usual amount of praise, and it was long before the young
ladies would consent to bid adieu to this most charming

A little further on we saw the Dripping Spring. This is
nothing more than a limpid pool of water that is supplied from
the ceiling. The only thing that needs mention here was the
profuse abundance of stalactites and stalagmites.

A few hundred yards from the Dripping Spring we de-
cended into the Infernal Regions. This was a terribly gloomy,
forbidding cavern, seeming to open down into the very earth
with horrid yawn. On descending the slippery, rocky path
that winds down the steep side, one almost fancies that at
each step a Pluto, with his two pronged fork and green eyed
serpent will meet one, prepared to take vengeance upon him
for presuming to enter within the charmed circle of his


Hadean domains. One feels an instinctive shrinking as he
passes among the high rocks that stand on either hand like
giants, blocking the lonely way. Imagine, at every turn a
dozen demons, lurking just behind the next boulder ready for
the spring upon their prey. Everything in this dismal pit
savors of the ghastly, the wierd, the mysterious. Conversa-
tion was hushed. We spoke in low tones as if fearful of being
overheard by the evil spirits around us. We walked along at
times in perfect silence, the only sound breaking the ominous
stillness being the dull thud of our feet as they sank into the
wet clay. It was almost impossible to maintain our footing,
the ground was so slimy, and the rocks so encrusted with saline
and alkaline secretions that, when we at last reached the top
of the opposite side, we hailed the smooth, open avenue again
with delight.

We rested for some time before proceeding to talk over
the horrors of the infernal regions, and all came to the unan-
imous conclusion, that if the real Hades was anything like
that in Mammoth Cave, we would all strive from that hour to
live better lives ; but all such resolutions were forgotten when,
a short time after, we stopped under the Sea Serpent. This
is a tortuous crevice in the rock overhead, that has been cut
by running water, the layer of rock that formed the floor of
it having become detached. We did not rest here long, how-
ever, for we had overstayed our time at the Infernal Regions.

The valley Way Side Cut was next in order, but as it is a
small avenue leading off from Silliman's Avenue and returning
into it a short distance further on, and the young ladies not
caring to undergo any extra climbing to see it, we passed on.
This Avenue, however, contains, according to Frank's state-
ment, (and he knows) several beautiful points, and is well
worth exploring.


A Subterranean Concert Room. The Highest Dome in the
Cave The Fly Chamber. Marthas Vineyard. A Ro-
mantic Meal. The Last Rose of Summer, (before last).
Diamond Grotto. An Underground Mountain. The End
of the Cave and the Maelstrom. Music on Echo River.
Once More Above Ground.

We climbed the Hill of Fatigue, and stood by the Great
Western, which is an immense rock, many times larger than
any vessel, and the end of which closely resembles the stern
of a ship. The rudder is turned to the starboard side. We
noticed that some enterprising youth had taken the pains to
climb to a great hight and write the name of the rock in

We commended the Unknown's spirit and proceeded to
examine the Rabbit, which is a large stone on the right, which
bears a remarkable similarity to that animal.

Having criticised this curiosity at length, we walked on
until we reached Ole Bull's Concert Room. This apartment
is situated on the left of the Avenue and is thirty feet wide,
forty feet long, and twenty high.

When Ole Bull made his first tour through the United
States, he visited the Cave and performed in the room which


has since received his name. In questioning Frank, we learned
that he played before quite a large audience. A great num-
ber of people had heard of his entering the Cave, and antici-
pating such a treat, had formed a very large party and
accompanied him. This was the last point of special interest
in Silliman's Avenue. This Avenue is named in honor of
Professor B. Silliman, of Yale College.

We left Silliman's Avenue when within a half a mile of
the Pass of El. Ghor by entering Rhoda's Arcade, which led
off to the left. This Arcade is fifty yards in length and from
five to ten feet in hight. The walls and ceiling are encrusted
with the crystals of gypsum and carbonate of lime of great
brilliancy and indescribable beauty. The floor is covered
with white crystals of limestone and is obstructed by fallen
rock. In point of beauty, there is no avenue in the Cave, at
least that we could discover, superior to this. Every few feet,
the guide illumined it by means of the magnesium light,
which brought out the hitherto unseen beauties of the gypsum
formations. The crystals were arranged in every conceiva-
ble position and shape. Nothing could be more exquisite
than the delicate crystalline rose-leaves as white as snow,
that we noticed on the ceiling ; and nothing more inviting
than the lusciousness of the perfectly formed grapes and plums
that seemed to grow in such tempting profusion upon the

It was with regret that we quitted this wonderful arcade,
but it was only to behold new wonders, for We next stood
under Lucy's Dome, which is the highest in the Cave, being
sixty feet wide and over three hundred and sixty feet high.
The sides appear to be composed of immense curtains, ex-
tending from the ceiling to the floor. It was a grand sight.
The only unfortunate feature connected with this dome is


that, it is impossible for visitors to see the top, as at the hight
of about three hundred feet, it makes a sharp bend and so
folds upon itself, thus shutting out a view of its greater alti-
tudes. It is for this reason that Mammoth Dome has obtain-
ed a more extended reputation for its vastness, as it is almost
the same hight and can be seen clear to the top.

We next came to the Pass of El Ghor. This pass resem-
bles Silliman's avenue, but the cliffs composing the walls pre-
sent a more wild and rugged appearance. It is about two
miles in length and possesses many points of interest, of
which the first we saw was the Hanging Rocks that look as
though they were about to fall, thus closing entirely the avenue,
from the walls and ceiling of which they are suspended. Of
course, we found it next to impossible to convince our young
lady friends, even on the guide's statement, that not a rock
had fallen since the discovery of the Cave. After a good
deal of persuasion spiced with fun, we induced them to run,
one at a time, under the threatening boulders.

Passing this apparently dangerous spot, we next came to
the Fly Chamber. It is quite a large apartment, with noth-
ing to merit remark except the fact, that crystals of black
gypsum, of the size of a common house fly, project from the
ceiling in great numbers. One of the party, seeing some one
reach up with his long walking staff, exclaimed quickly,
" Take care, they'll all fly away if you poke 'em." Indeed it
was very difficult to distinguish them from real flies, even
upon a close examination.

Table Rock was soon after pointed out, on the left side
of the avenue, projecting from the wall to a distance of about
ten feet. It is only two feet in thickness, and has no means
of support except its connection with the rocky wall.


Leaving Table Rock, we came to the Crown, which is
six feet in diameter, and is situated on the opposite side of
the avenue, about ten feet from the floor. It closely resem-
bles the object after which it is named, being a jagged-edged,
circularly-formed rock, the tooth-like border, being the very
counterpart of a real crown.

Boone's Avenue leads off to the left at a distance of a
few feet from the Crown. It has been explored for over a
mile, but nothing further is known of its extent or

Corinna's Dome, which we were now approaching, rests
directly over the centre of the avenue. It is forty feet high,
and nine feet wide. This dome is formed like all the others in
the Cave, by the solvent action of charged water, which, in
this instance, enters from a fissure in the top, where the Pass
of El Ghor was filled with water.

The Black Hole of Calcutta, was pointed out to us next.
It is situated on the left side of the avenue, and is fifteen feet
deep. This cavity is filled with loose rock and mineral
debris, which renders it extremely difficult to effect a cross-
ing. One is almost sure to meet with a fall while descending
or ascending. There were many laughable incidents that
occured, before we all collected on the other side. But, as
there is always a reward for toil, we found ours, in the sight
of Stella's Dome, just beyond the Black Hole of Calcutta.

This dome is one of the finest in the Cave, two hundred
and fifty feet in hight, and somewhat resembling Lucy's
Dome, in its general features. We enjoyed a long look at
this wonderful excavation, and then proceeded as before.

We very soon stopped before the Chimes, consisting of
depending rocks, which, when struck, emit a very musical


sound. We had quite a little concert here ; altogether im-
promptu, but causing a good deal of merriment.

In a few moments we passed Wellington's Gallery, but
as there was nothing at all attractive there, we passed on to
Hebe's Spring. This little body of water is four feet in
diameter, and one and a half feet in depth. It is charged
with sulphureted hydrogen, but, after standing undisturbed
for some length of time, there is a layer of pure water that
collects near the surface. It is supplied with sulphur water
from below, and pure water from above ; having the remark-
able characteristic* of a double source. Eyless Crawfish have
been found in this spring, but Frank told us that they were
never caught now.

A half a mile beyond Hebe's Spring, we passed Mystic
River, of which very little is known, as its name implies.

Ascending a flight of wooden steps twenty feet high, we
found ourselves in Martha's Vineyard. At first we were
rather surprised to find the vineyard so far from the palace,
but soon we were lost in admiration, for the beautiful sights
about us. The walls and ceiling were studded with stalactite
nodules of carbonate of lime, which are colored and tinted
with black and red oxyd of iron, which in size and appear-
ance, exactly resemble natural grapes. The similarity is so
perfect, that it was next to impossible for us not to believe
ourselves in some vast grapery, with long, luscious bunches,
hanging in gorgeous profusion. The grapes themselves
seemed just ripe. They possessed that delicate tinge, which
it is customary to notice upon fully matured foreign grapes ;
and the vines and vinelets were in perfect keeping with the
surroundings ; and running from the ceiling to the floor, was
what appeared to be a perfect grapevine, being in reality, a


long wall-stalactite, about two inches in diameter. This
completed the likeness. A large stalagmite, projecting from
the right wall a few inches from the floor, is termed the
Battering Ram. We were all delighted with this chamber,
and lingered for a long time, feasting upon its beauty and

We were now in Elindo Avenue, which is twenty feet
over the pass of El Ghor. A feeling of hunger had for some
time past, been admonishing us that we should stop and
lunch, so we selected a beautiful spot about a half mile from
Martha's Vineyard, and prepared dinner. The young ladies
were now right in their element, and before long announced
that all was ready. The eatables were spread out upon the
surface of a long, flat rock, situated only a few rods from
Washington's Hall, in which room the other party were
seated at dinner. They looked very picturesque, when
viewed from the dark, they being in a dazzle of light, from
the many lamps. It was very like an encampment of gyp-
sies. The ladies' fanciful, bright colored dresses, and the
gentlemen's odd suits, in striking contrast ; and the merry
laughter that every now and then greeted some witty remark,
sounded so cherrily as it echoed through the desolate

It was an hour or more before we were again in line ; but
we all felt so much refreshed by our rest, that we were fully
prepared to enjoy the beauties of the Snow-Ball Room,
which is about half-way between Washington's Hall and
Cleveland's Cabinet. Here the ceiling and walls are covered
by the same crystalline gypsum nodules, that adorned
Martha's Vineyard ; but the air being too damp for the gyp-
sum to assume the form of flowers and filaments, their resem-
blance to snow-balls is complete.


After leaving Snow-Ball Room, we entered Cleveland's
Cabinet. This avenue is one and three quarters of a mile in
length, sixty feet wide, and from ten to twenty feet in hight.
The walls and ceiling are literally lined with alabaster flowers
of every conceivable variety, and indescribable beauty and
delicacy of outline.

The first point of interest in Cleveland's Cabinet, is
Mary's Bower, which is fifteen feet in hight, and forty in
length, the walls and ceiling of which are covered with
rosettes of gypsum.

Next we came to the Cross, which is formed by the
intersection of two crevices in the ceiling at right angles,
and which are lined with flowers of Plaster of Paris. It is
about eight feet in length. This was much admired by every-
one. It was perfect in outline and presents the longer axis
to first view, in an upright position. The Mammary Ceiling
is formed of nipple-shaped projections of gypsum ; after pass-
ing which, we were shown the Last Rose of Summer. It is
about eight inches in diameter, and is of snowy whiteness.
It rests against the ceiling in the centre of the avenue, but
we would have passed it unnoticed, had not Frank stopped
and lit his magnesium wire. Some thirty yards further on,
we passed the Dining Table. This immense rock is fifteen
feet wide, and thirty long.

We were directed a few minutes after leaving the Last
Rose of Summer, to hold our lamps in an alcove in the wall,
which was three feet in hight, and five feet in length, the
whole interior of which was lined with knob-like projections
of carbonate of lime, in the form of grapes. This crevice is
termed Bacchus' Glory.

Frank stopped next time before St. Cecilia's Grotto,


which is a picturesque recess, situated in the wall of the
avenue. This spot is noted for the stucco flowers, that adorn
its walls ; but seeing nothing further to arrest our attention,
we proceeded to Diamond Grotto, which is named on account
of the sparkling, gem-like crystals of selenite that covered
the ceiling. It shows up to fine effect when the light is
moved to and fro, so as to be reflected from the many sides
of these little cubes.

Charlotte's Grotto is the terminus of Cleveland's Cabinet,
and is remarkable for its fine collection of fibrous gypsum,
but for nothing else. This avenue is named in honor of Prof-
fesor Cleveland, the distinguished mineralogist.

We now began the perilous ascent of Rocky Mountain,
which is one hundred feet high, and is formed entirely of
rocks that have fallen from the ceiling above. On the top,
is a stalagmite, two feet high, and six inches in diameter,
called Cleopatra's Needle. We, at last, after much hard
climbing, reached the summit ; only to look down with dis-
may into a frightful gorge, seventy feet deep, and one hun-
dred feet wide, that is termed, and appropriately, the Dismal

The Cave at this mountain, divides into three branches.
That to the right leads to Sand-stone Dome, which is
interesting from the fact that the stone of which it is com-
posed, indicates that the top of the Dome is very near the
surface of the earth. The branch to the left communicates-
with Groghan's Hall. The centre one is called Franklin's
Avenue, and extends from Dismal Hollow to Serena's Arbor.

Serena's Arbor is rather paradoxical in its name, for in-
stead of being an inviting place, it is just the contrary, most
forbidding, and presents a wild and gloomy appearance. It


is about twenty feet in diameter, and forty in hight. The
walls and ceiling are covered with stalactite cornices, columns,
grooves, &c., many of which are semi-transparent and
sonorous. We hastened through this cheerless vault, and, in
a few moments, stood in Groghan's Hall, which constitutes
the end of the Long Route, and is about seventy feet wide,
and twenty feet high.

The left wall is covered with beautiful and variegated
stalactite formations, which excel all others in the cave, in
extreme hardness and singular whiteness. On the right, we
saw a yawning pit, which Frank told us was the Maelstrom.
It is one hundred and seventy-five feet deep, and twenty
wide. There are avenues leading from the bottom which can
be plainly seen when a light is lowered into it. They have
been but partially explored on account of the difficulty in
reaching them, from the fact that persons are obliged to
descend by means of ropes. Cave crickets abound in this
portion of the cave ; also cave lizards and bats, in great num-
bers. A peculiar kind of rat is sometimes found in Groghan's
Hall ; it is somewhat larger than our common barn-rat, and
while the head and eyes resemble those of a rabbit, the hair
of the back is like that of a gray squirrel. This abundance
of animal life is taken, by scientific men, as an indication that
there is a close connection between the cave and the outer
world, at this point, although they have been as yet unable
to discover it.

We sat down upon the rocks, to enjoy the thought of the
distance we had overcome since we saw the light, and
wonder where we were situated, relatively to the position of
the hotel.

We had then reached our destination for the day, and


derived a good deal of pleasure in discussing together, the
sights we had seen and the sounds we had heard since enter-
ing the Cave. We had traveled for nine long miles over the
roughest ground imaginable, and felt a sort of pride in the
consciousness of the grand results of our labors ; but these
triumphant reflections were suddenly dissipated, when we
remembered that we were obliged to return over the same
ground. The very thought itself was fatiguing, so we banish-
ed it and determined to enjoy ourselves to the fullest extent
while there.

The view down the Maelstrom was fearfully grand, and
so much more impressive when we realized that this terrible
abyss was beneath the surface of the earth.

Having rested for almost a half hour in Groghan's Hall,
we started on the return. I will not enter into the details of
our homeward journey, but only touch upon one or two scenes
that presented themselves, before we reached the mouth of
the Cave.

We had arrived at a spot about a hundred yards from
Echo River, and seated ourselves to await the crossing of the
other party whom we had met returning, just before we reach-
ed the end of the Cave, and had been talking gayly for some
time, when Frank who had gone on to the brow of a little em-
inence that commanded a view of the water, called to us to
join him. We did so and what a charming view we beheld as
we came in sight of the landing. There were the ladies, with
their bright colored dresses, and waving plumes ; the men
with their oil-cloth caps and long staffs, and the guides lean-
ing upon their oars. The whole scene was lit up by magnesium
light by some one from behind an immense rock that lay close
by so that the full stream of brilliancy fell upon the pictur-


esque group. This strong light brought out the wild and
rugged surroundings in sharp relief, and shone full upon the
calm surface of the water that formed a charming back ground
to this impromptu tableaux. To highten the effect of such a
scene, there suddenly burst from the entire party a grand
anthem that rung through the lofty cavern, in long continued
echoes, which only contributed with their dying tones to the
inspiring beauty of the music.

After finishing this chorus, the party entered the boats
and glided noiselessly away, down the river. As they floated
around a bend in the stream, which shut them out from view,
we heard the soft, sweet tones of a lady's voice that came
trembling back to us like clear flute-notes. The climax was
reached when, having finished the verse, there swelled up a
full chorus that sounded like the distant strains of a muffled
spirit choir.

Long after the singing had ceased, we sat in silence, fear-
ing to break the charmed spell that such music had wrought
upon our feelings. But I feel my utter inability to describe
such a scene and such music it is impossible. I only trust
for its appreciation to your imaginations to supply the de-
ficiencies of this description.

After recrossing Echo River, we met with nothing further
of comment, until we reached the mouth of the Cave, which
was at nine thirty P. M.

The change of temperature in issuing into the outer at-
mosphere was so great, that it almost suffocated us. It caused
me to experience a sensation of giddiness and oppression that
was even more marked as I imprudently stepped quickly from
one to the other.

A thunder storm was brewing as we could see by the


vivid flashes of lightning that streaked the sky, so we hasten-
ed up to the hotel, reaching the end of the porch just as the
big drops began to descend.

We were soon seated at supper discussing the many
wonderful sights we had seen during the day.

After tea we adjourned to the Ball Room and enjoyed
the festivities that were there in progress, and at a late hour
we retired to rest well satisfied with the labor that had added
such an interesting page to our life's book of experience.
We had that day seen what would remain with us during all
our^subsequent life, as a well-spring of pleasant and profita-
ble retrospection, as well as a new theme of entertaining


The Short or Extra Route. The Giant Group. The Star
Chamber. The Greatest Natural Tunnel in the World.
Chief City. The Labyrinth and Goriris Dome. Entering
Pensacola Avenue. The Great Crossing. The Trip to
Mammoth Dome. Corinthian Columns. Roaring River.
The New Discovery. The Gothic A rcade.

It was not long before our fatigue overcame our deter-
mination of talking over our plans, and we fell into a sound
sleep, that was undisturbed until the sun shone brightly into
the room through the shutters, forming many colored spots
on the floor and opposite wall.

We hastened to descend, as it was almost time to start
into the Cave again, for we had determined to see everything
that was to be seen, by finishing up, with the Short or Extra

We had engaged a guide named Lee, who had conducted
us through White's Cave, to accompany us upon the Short
Route. He is a very careful and trustworthy cicerone, and
we were not disappointed in our expectations of his being
intelligent and communicative.

We ascertained at the office, upon inquiry, that we were


the only persons who proposed entering the Cave that
morning, so without waiting until the regular time of starting,
we found Lee and left the Hotel.

After leaving the mouth of the Cave we passed over the
same ground that we had traversed the day before, until we
reached the Giant's Coffin, where, instead of turning into the
Deserted Chambers by the avenue which leads under the
Coffin, we kept the main Cave, and soon after passing what
is called the Great Bend or the Acute Angle, at which point
the cavern makes a sharp turn to the left, the greatest curve
in its whole length, we observed what is termed the Giants'
Wife and Child.

Here we noticed a group of figures upon the ceiling,
formed of black gypsum resting on a white back ground and
representing the Giant in the act of passing the Child to the

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Online LibraryHarry T. (Harry Taylor) GauseDetailed description of scenes and incidents connected with a trip through the mountains and parks of Colorado, as accomplished by H.B.B. Stapler and Harry T. Gause, July 21-August 20, 1971 → online text (page 12 of 14)