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Organ Cave is located at the community of Organ Cave, about five miles southeast of Lewisburg. Organ Cave has 11 entrances and is the second-largest cave in West Virginia with about 40 miles of surveyed passages. The first recorded owner (1783) of the cave was John Gardner. By 1822, the cave was owned by John Rogers and was visited by guests staying at the various sulfur spring resorts in the area. Owner James H. Boone installed light bulbs in 1914 powered by a Delco generator with 72 storage batteries. The commercial tour uses the historic Organ entrance that is a large blind valley where a stream sinks at the base of a 100-foot limestone cliff. The tour covers about a half-mile of passage. Guided wild cave tours may also be arranged in the undeveloped parts of the cavern.

Organ Cave is named for a calcite drapery that resembles a pipe organ. The cave was mined for saltpeter to manufacture gunpowder during both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Some of the wooden hoppers used to leach nitrates from the cave soils may be seen at the end of the tour. The cave has a rich diversity of aquatic invertebrate animals and has been studied for a number of years. The fossil bones of the Pleistocene sloth Megalonyx jeffersonii described by Thomas Jefferson in 1799 were reportedly found in Organ Cave. The cave is developed in the lower Greenbrier Group limestones of the Mississippian Era. Organ Cave was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by William K. Jones

Last Revised on January 24, 2013

Related Articles


Jones, W. K. Karst Hydrology Atlas of West Virginia. Charles Town: Karst Waters Institute, 1997.

Dougherty, P. H., et al. "Karst Regions of the Eastern U.S. with Special Emphasis on the Friars Hole Cave System," in Yuan Daozian & Liu Zaihua, eds, Global Karst Correlation. New York: Science Press, 1998.

Baker, L., et al. "The Friars Hole System," Bulletin 1. Capitol Area Cavers, 1982.

Stevens, Paul J. "Caves of the Organ Cave Plateau," Bulletin. West Virginia Speleological Survey, 1988.

Storrick, G. D. "The Caves and Karst Hydrology of Southern Pocahontas County and the Upper Spring Creek Valley," Bulletin 10. West Virginia Speleological Survey, 1992.

Cite This Article

Jones, William K. "Organ Cave." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 24 January 2013. Web. 22 March 2018.


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