Reading the signs as we walked through the Lost World underground caverns at Lewisburg, WV, I knew I could refresh my memory of stalactites versus stalagmites, but I didn’t expect to learn that there was a World Record for “stalagmite sitting” and it was set right here at Lost World. As we stood gazing up at the 28-foot high stalagmite called The War Club, on which the event took place, it was hard to imagine who in their right mind would do such a thing. Bob Addis in 1971 spent 15 days, 23 hours and 22 minutes sitting on a small platform built on the 4-foot diameter peak of the column. I guess “flagpole sitting” was once a fad and maybe that’s where he got the idea. But thinking of all that time hunched in a cold, dark, drippy cave gave me extra shivers beyond what I already felt in the 52 degrees underground chill.
Besides gazing up at cave formations, we also got to shine flashlights down into holes and passageways filled with unknown mysteries. One hole we were particularly interested to peer into was the one in the center of the cave where the sign explained how the cave had been discovered in 1942. For years before that discovery, the farmer who owned the surrounding land had been making use of a hole in one of his fields as a convenient place to dispose of animal carcasses and other debris. He didn’t know how deep the hole was but knew it was deep enough that he couldn’t hear things hit the bottom. When some cave explorers heard about the hole and talked to the farmer he said they were welcome to check it out. Letting himself down the hole with a rope, one of the men reached the 120 foot bottom, and was excited to discover that he was in the middle of a vast underground cavern.
In the years since the cave’s discovery a new opening with steps and a walkway was constructed at one end of the cave so tourists like us could explore it without climbing down a rope ladder. But when you get halfway through the tour you can climb up a platform that is below the natural opening. This allows you to look down at the pile of bones and junk that had collected for years at the bottom, as well as looking up at the daylight through the natural opening above.
Fun stuff for 2 young boys and always a delight for grandparents to take the grandkids on new adventures. You never know what World Records your grandkids might end up setting (sitting?)