I grew up across from Howe Caverns. My dad used to cut hay from their land. When my ponies escaped we would frequently find them at the Caverns mooching treats and affection from the tourists. One of the reasons I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 18 was due to our proximity to Howe Caverns. With no shoulders along the country roads, my parents were sure if I was riding a bike I would get hit by a tourist. So from age 5 on they entrusted my fate to Nip, my pony. I guess they figured his sense of self preservation would extend to me as well. In 40 years the old farm house and apple orchard is gone, as is the pig house, chicken coops and lower barn where we used to swing on the rope and make tunnels and forts in the hay. The ‘night lot’ where we used to put the cows at night is over grown with saplings, but the upper barn still stands.
When I was in High School I worked as a tour guide at the Caverns, leading groups of 40 people through the cave on 3-4 trips a day. It was a great job for a teenager; it paid well, it taught me some public speaking skills, I got introduced to a wide range of ethnicities that one wouldn’t normally encounter in rural Schoharie County, working with other teenagers provided the potential for lots of pranks and it got me interested in spelunking.
Yesterday, we took Eric and his buddy Trevor to the Caverns.
The tour is a little different than the spiel we used to give. Some of the formations we used to describe are now ignored. There is an emphasis on taking family pictures – like the one above – as a revenue stream. So other parts of the tour are a little faster and the Cave History Spiel is no longer given in the Bronze Room – where it fit so well.
The boys enjoyed the whole trip. The only place they got a little spooked was hearing the running water at the end of the boat ride (start is shown above). They were amazed by the experience of total darkness and really enjoyed walking through the winding way. All in all a good trip.
I got to see Sparky, Rich Nethaway and Bob Holt to chat a bit. It was a nice day.