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Niagara Caves

As we drove Minnesota's southern border we discovered that there were many hidden gems. One being the Niagara Cave. A 60-foot subterranean waterfall, 100-foot-high ceilings, ancient fossils, unusual limestone rock formations, calcite flow-stone, an echo chamber, and even a wedding chapel for those who are a bit adventurous.

The cave was discovered in 1924, when legend has it that three pigs disappeared from a nearby farm and ended up in a sinkhole. When their owner went looking for the wayward swine, he not only found his livestock—alive and well, 75 feet underground—he also discovered the underground chamber and its many wonders.The tours of the cave started 10 yrs later.

A line of light-colored stone running throughout the cave likely marks a volcano that erupted more than 400 million years ago. It has many distinctive stone formations.
 At about hip height we could see that the walls were all  dotted with pre-historic fossils, ranging from gastropods to cephalapods to sponges and trilobites. There is also profile of an elephant that is about six feet tall that sticks out of the wall into the walkway between rooms. Another interesting but creepy feature is a skeleton hand sticking out of one of the walls. 

We could see rainwater seeped into the limestone, mixing with carbon dioxide in the soil to create a weak acid that slowly dissolved the stone. Over thousands of years, caves formed along joints in the rocks. As the caves became exposed, continued rainwater seepage crated stalactites – the icicle-like formations hanging down from the ceiling – and stalagmites – the cone-like features that line the cave floor and poke upward.  Most caves in Minnesota likely formed nearly 400,000 years ago, but continue to be shaped by water even today.  As we walked 240 feet down into the cave, water seemed to drip more into the cave.