Grand Canyon Caverns

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Martin Hash
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Grand Canyon Caverns

Post by Martin Hash » Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:00 am



Grand Canyon Caverns (no connection to the Grand Canyon) are along the original Route 66 in Arizona. They’re approximately 365 million years old , and the largest dry cave in the Americas. That’s where the term “dope on a rope” originated because that’s what the locals called tourists lowered 150’ into the cavern with only a kerosene lantern and their wits; and where they had to spend the night if they weren’t back at the rope by 4:30 pm.

Civil Defense Stockpiles.JPG

The caverns are also a Civil Defense shelter stocked by the U.S. government: 2000 people for 6 months; started in 1962 for the Cuban Missile Crisis but maintained by the government ever since. Various animals over the Centuries have died in the caves and their mummified remains are still there. For example, along the path is a desiccated snake, and a mummified bobcat carbon-dated to 1850. There’s a little restaurant in there too; I hazard to guess what they serve?

Mummified Bobcat.jpg

There’s also Gertie the Giant Ground Sloth, who 11,000 years ago, fell over 100’ feet down through the same hole used by the cave’s original explorer. She was a juvenile, only 15-feet tall, but she left a 2-1/2” portion of one of her claws in the gouges in the cave wall trying to climb out. Her skeleton now resides at the university of Tulsa in exchange for a full size mock-up modeled after the bones and displayed in the cave next to the scratch marks.

Gertie the Giant Ground Sloth.jpg
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