9/3/2015

Kid's "Discover" Cave in Noel MO

An energetic expedition of McDonald County youth recently investigated Bluff Dwellers Cave in Noel, as part of our monthly scheduled programs to involve kids in the outdoors and related activities. While the outside thermometer gradually climbed to August temperatures, the youngsters, along with their parents “discovered” comfortable temperatures inside the ancient cave. They also “discovered” many peculiar and distinctive cave speleothems (formations) unique only to Bluff Dwellers Cave such as Balancing Rock, Musical Chimes, Crystal Lake Rim Stone Dam, Lost City, and others. The “discovery” did not end with the viewing of these special creations. The kids learned how to identify common cave features such as hollow straws, cave sponge, columns, fossils, and cave coral. They particularly enjoyed learning the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, illustrated thru a creative poem and dance portrayed by tour guide extraordinaire Mary Jane Fisher. Fisher’s amusing visual aid and rhyming received smiles, giggles, and laughter from her young spectators, which many will remember for years to come. The tour participants also gained knowledge that the early inhabitants were Paleo Indians, often called Bluff Dwellers, and lived in the cave as early as 5,000 BC. Other factual “discoveries” included the cave is located approximately 150 ft below the earth’s surface, is only 50% developed, and contains over 4,000 ft of pathways. Bluff Dwellers Cave was discovered in 1927 by land owner Arthur Browning, and has been in continuous operation by descendants of the Browning family for 88 years. In addition to the cave tour, the kids observed the Browning Museum to “discover” the many artifacts exhumed in and around the cave. The event concluded with an outdoor lunch cooked on the grill by our volunteers. Several of the kids were asked what they liked best about the tour. Almost unanimously, and in unison, they shouted “Everything”. Then, 5 year old Addison Nicholas, from Pineville, responded with pride “I didn’t want to see any bats….but when I did, I liked them too”. On this day, the kids defiantly “discovered” a cave in Noel.