Photo Friday Challenge: One Love
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park lies just west of the town of Three Forks, Montana, in the northern part of the US. Near this cavern system, the explorers Lewis and Clark split up to find horses and the Mississippi River. Lewis and Clark never explored the caverns, but Native Americans knew of their existence long before the expedition. The caverns have been expanded and commercialized for tours since 1900, and have been studied in their entire current extent by a geologist named Rich Aram (his maps are available on T-shirts at the gift shop).
Public 2 hour tours are available, but they are limited to May 1-September 30 due to weather. The public tours are lit (sometimes with cool lights, as in the photo) and your guide has a flashlight. When they turn out the lights it’s really dark – super cool, but not for the faint of heart! The cavern is also cooler than outside (wear a jacket!), has some parts where you can look down into the depths of the cavern with just a flimsy rail supporting you, and there is a lot of walking (over 3 km!). I am unsure about ADA, so please call ahead with concerns!
Geology of the Caverns
The caverns have been slowly dissolved away in beds of Madison Limestone (Mississippian in age, ~350 million years old), which was later uplifted during the Laramide orogeny (~70-50 million years ago). Water flowing through the limestone found weaknesses in the jointing and dissolved the large holes that now make up the caverns. It is likely that a majority of cavern excavation occurred in connection with periods of glaciation (Ice Ages), because of the large amount of water required to create such massive caverns. Geology, yay!
Why “One Love”??
Why is this a good candidate for the “One Love” photo challenge? Well, when I visited the caverns I took a geology tour and I got to hear about stalactites and stalagmites, as well as geological processes in cave formation. However, if you take the normal tour (which is a lot of fun! and no big, boring geology words so it’s great for families), they will point out some of the more interesting cave formations, including one that they call “Romeo & Juliet” – because it resembles the lovers outside a tower, perhaps when they meet their fate. (That’s the love part…)
I’m not sure if I took a photo of that part, because I took the geology tour and not the public tour, but this photo was taken when they turned on some of the lighting that they use for the public tours. The effect from the blur of the camera and the lighting I think makes a spectacular effect I could never replicate if I tried ^^ However, the pink color, the Romeo & Juliet story, and my love of geology sort of combine into the best representation of the theme I could muster!
What do you think of my interpretation of “One Love”? Have you ever visited the Lewis & Clark Caverns? Let me know in the comments!