"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
October 20th, 2011
The Carlsbad Caverns are some of the most breathtaking and magnificent caves in all of North America. Deep beneath the desert rocks and tumbling sage sparkle tall speleothems in great caves of limestone;
The Caverns were found by a sixteen year old boy named Jim White. It was his job to walk along the fence line, testing for weakness and repairing breaks. One day as he was doing this he saw smoke in the distance and ran to discover the cause. As he got closer he realized that the smoke was in fact “9 million” bats exiting the cave mouth.
Of course, there probably weren’t actually 9 million bats. Jim had a very limited education, being in only fourth grade at the time, and his counting method probably went a bit like this: “One, two, three… 9 million!”
However, there were quite a lot of bats and Jim rightly figured that the cave must be quite large to house so many. His natural curiosity and drive for adventure led him to take a homemade lantern and rope swing and venture down into the gaping mouth of the caves.
Giant stalagmites and stalactites, straining towards each other, their sides gleaming wet in the flickering light. Cave popcorn, covering the walls with their crystalline white shining like snow. Draperies hanging from the ceiling a hundred feet above slowly drip down into ice cold cave pools below, slowly depositing calcite drip by drip at the rate of a centimeter every 80 years.
He didn’t know how to explain what he saw, or even the names of the speleothems. So he came up with his own names for them, the stalactites were of course the sticky-downys, the stalagmites were the sticky-upys and the ones that connect to each other were the sticky-togetherys.
He ran back to town and for the next twenty years he tried to convince others to descend into the pitch black depths and experience the wonders below. To make a long story short, he succeeded and now everyone can look upon the fairyland below.