"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 20 - Penn's Cave

“Life is not about getting all you want. It's about enjoying all you have.” -Unknown

Since we've been having a heat wave this past week we decided to stay at the house. We have AC on the boat, but the house gives us more space...which is nice when it's too hot to do anything outside. Hiking and biking aren't fun when you have to sweat, so the best place to visit when it's hot is a cave. 

Penn’s Cave has been a popular tourist attraction for almost 140 years. It's located in Centre Hall, which is just a short drive from our house. The cave was formed over millions of years by subterranean groundwater that dissolved limestone. The groundwater, which is the source of Penn’s Creek, covers the bottom of the cave to depths between 3-5 feet. 

Visitors tour the 1,300-foot-long, water-filled cave by flat-bottom boats. The cave’s temperature stays at 52º year-round with water temperature at 38º...making it a great place to be when it's in the 90s outside. In addition to the guided 50-minute boat tours, visitors can go on a nature and wildlife tour, navigate a miner’s maze, and pan for gemstones. Too hot for any of that the day we were there. 

At the end of the cavern, we exited onto Lake Nitanee and into a blast of hot, humid air. It was like hitting a wall. The guide informed us about how the end of the cavern was dug out and the lake made to use it for electrical power. We saw lots of elk cooling themselves down on the edge of the lake. After a short tour of the lake we turned back toward the cavern. Even before we entered, I could feel the cool air emanating from the opening.

The cave was first used by the Seneca Indians for shelter. The earliest record of ownership is traced to James Poe in 1773. It changed hands several times before Jesse and Samuel Long took over the property in 1885. They were the first to promote the cave as a tourist attraction. They had the hotel built to accommodate visitors, which was used until the 1900's.

Penn’s Cave and Penn’s Cave House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Penn’s Cave is currently the only Pennsylvania cave on the registry.
The visitor center
Geologists estimate that Penn's Cave's formations originated more than 30 million years ago.
The entrance to the cave.
The boats
Looking back at the entrance of the cave.
The cave
The light at the end of the tunnel...the entrance to Lake Nitanee.
Some of the elk in the wildlife preserve.
Going back into the cave. The water was a little murky since we've had some heavy rain lately. We were told it is usually very clear and you could see the bottom.
Another boat doing the cave tour.
The valley that Penn's Cave is located in is beautiful. It's full of Amish farms that have been unchanged for nearly two centuries. 

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