THEN AND NOW
A lot of changes have been made since CRYSTAL ONYX Cave was discovered in 1960. The purpose of this page is to dig into the archives and show you some of those changes.
MAIN CAVE ENTRANCE
CRYSTAL ONYX Cave was discovered in 1960 by Cleon Turner. He found the entrance at the bottom of a sink hole and it was blocked with a large rock.
Before the cave was open for tours in 1965 the sink hole was cleared out and space for a stairway was blasted into the limestone.
An entry building with restaurant was built over the cave. That building was torn down and the current entry building was made.
Scott Sendtko widened the concrete stairs, rebuilt the metal ones over the shaft and redid the entry building. You can still see some tree stumps along the sinkhole edge.
THE WAY DOWN
When reporters from the Glasgow Daily Times toured the newly discovered cave in 1960 they had quite an adventure. They had ropes tied around their waists and climbed down ladders that were tied together.
Before CRYSTAL ONYX Cave was opened in 1965 the ladders were replaced with metal and wooden stairs.
Scott rebuilt the metal stairs. He replaced the solid sheet metal with grating that doesn’t pool water and should last many years.
Here you see Cleon Turner standing in front of the column we call the guardian Angel. Almost everyone who enters the cave takes this iconic picture.
THE BRIDGE AND LAKE
When CRYSTAL ONYX Cave was first opened the area past the lake known as Crystal Falls was much deeper. This was filled in with blasting debris to decrease the number of steps and contain the lake.
Scott rebuilt the bridge and steps.
LEAVING CRYSTAL FALLS
This picture shows more wooden steps going up from the Lake area.
You can see how much of the lake was filled in to make the viewing area for Crystal Falls.
THE GREAT WALL
Here is an image of the Great Wall from 1965. Compare that to the current view, and you will see that the two long stalactites in the middle have been shortened. When you visit them now you will also see that they are dripping and working on regrowing.
THE WEDDING CAKE
Everyone’s favorite, the Wedding Cake at the end of the Scenic Trail has really changed for the better. In the past there was a 100 watt light shining on it, and it was green with algae growth. Now it is hardly recognizable as the same formation. It cleared up after the cave closed, and Scott and Sara have taken care to keep it beautiful.
STAIRWAY TO THE GREAT SCOTT ROOM
To the left you see Sara standing below the stairs that served the cave for 50 years to get to the bottom level.
Scott replaced them with the new 18 step staircase which opens up the room. The beams are 12 feet long. To get them down, Sara used a winch at the upper entrance and lowered the beams to Scott who put them in place, then welded in the steps.
THE VERY BOTTOM
Scott and his minions did extensive work to make Goliath, at the very bottom of the cave, presentable. In the past, only cavers went to this part, and they excavated the “Wolf trap”, looking for more cave. A lot of dirt and debris was removed and magnificent stairs were built to get you there.
BACK DOOR SINKHOLE
Scott and Sara acquired the back tunnel and sink hole in 2015 and immediately set to work opening it up. There are so many interesting pictures of the process it is hard to choose. The bottom of the hole, at door level was filled with red clay and rocks removed from the cave. Scott cleaned it out, put in gravel, shored up the wall and built the spectacular stairway down to the back door.
A SIGN OF THE TIMES
CRYSTAL ONYX Cave sign in 2017 after it had been closed, and the current sign.