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Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Cavern
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Speleothems in Blanchard Springs Cavern
Location Stone County, Arkansas, U.S.
Nearest city Fifty-Six
Coordinates
Governing body United States Forest Service

Blanchard Springs Caverns is a cave system located in the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest in Stone County in northern Arkansas, 2 miles off Highway 14 a short distance north of Mountain View.[1] Blanchard Springs Caverns is a three-level cave system, two of which are open for guided tours. The Dripstone Trail runs through the upper level of the caverns and opened in 1973.[2] The Discovery Trail on the second level opened in 1977 and runs through the middle of the cavern. Also offered is a "Wild Cave" tour which allows access to undeveloped parts of the cave to more adventurous visitors.

The temperature is a constant, year-round 58°F (14°C). The limestone rock from which the caves and their formations developed was laid down in an ancient sea more than 350 million years ago. It remains a "living" cave in part because of the care given by visitors and the United States Forest Service. Living caves are ones in which slow metamorphosis due to minerals deposited by seeping and dripping water is still in process.

History

Local residents knew about the cave by the 1930s and called it Half-Mile Cave.[3] The first systematic exploration of the cave began in 1955 and went for five years. Additionally in 1955, explorers discovered a 1000-year-old Native American skeleton in the cave. The skeleton had a fractured skull, fractured ribs, and a fractured leg. How this explorer entered the cave is unknown. The caverns were opened to the public in 1973 after ten years of development on the Dripstone Trail. Blanchard Springs Caverns received its name from the cave's source, Blanchard Springs.

References

  1. ^ http://www.uark.edu/~siggamep/blanchard/ Blanchard Springs Caverns, The University of Arkansas
  2. ^ http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2223
  3. ^ Rossiter, Phyllis. A Living History of the Ozarks. Pelican Publishing. p. 307. 

External links

  • Blanchard Springs Caverns Website produced by the Stone County Tourist Guide
  • USDA Forest Service Page for Blanchard Springs Caverns
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