At last we met our guide named Mat, who gave us a brief introduction, saying that the cavern maintained a year round temperature of 50 degrees F. and to watch our step as some places were slippery. We would be going down 103 steps, to almost 150 feet underground. Before we descended into the cave, we were shown the original hole where visitors entered.
Off to one side, we saw where the entrance to the Ice Cave was.
A humorous sign next to the Ice Cave entrance listed possible reasons why it is called that. It said: The Ice Cave, so called because:
- It was discovered by a local dairy farmer, Lester Ice.
- It was a primitive landing pad for U.F.O.’s made of ice.
- Ice from the Bermuda Triangle was stored here by the Bermuda Trilateral Commission on Subterranean Affairs in 1986.
- The harmless voices in our heads, which we hear only on the full moon, asked us nicely and with proper use of good manners, to name it the Ice Cave.
- It leads to the lost ice city of the tour guide . . . (unreadable)
- Because it holds winter’s ice until mid-spring
We finally descended all the steps down and followed our guide into the cavern.
As we walked along, Mat described how the cavern was formed. It began with glacial water that melted and filled exposed cracks in the rock. It mixed with CO2 from the air and the ground, making it slightly acidic, which eroded the limestone rock. In dry periods, the water drained and left cavities where the water had been. Secret Cavern began its formation 350,000 years ago, and evidence of this glacier action was pointed out where there were flowstones, glacial domes and branching passageways.