Pennsylvania is home to more than half-a-dozen show caves scattered throughout the state. However, each one offers something unique and different that makes them worth visiting. Crystal Cave in Berks County, Pennsylvania, is no different.
Crystal Cave was discovered in November 1871 while William Merkel was blasting for limestone on his farm near Kutztown. News of the discovery spread quickly, and within just a few weeks, the cave was being explored by locals. Those early explorers commented how to cave sparkled like crystal during their explorations, and the name Crystal Cave has stuck ever since.
Within a few months, visitors were beginning to imperil the cave’s formations. In February 1872, the cave was sold to a local archeologist and geologist, Samuel Kohler, who leased the cave and boarded up the entrance. Just a month later, Kohler purchased the land from Merkel and became the state’s first full-time cave operator.
Kohler set to work making the cave accessible to paying visitors. Within a few months, Kohler announced the Grand Illumination of Crystal Cave, which occurred on May 25, 1872. This made Crystal Cave the first show cave in Pennsylvania.
Since then, the cave has been opened to the public. Throughout the years, many things have come and gone including a hotel and and the advent of automobile transportation. However, what hasn’t changed is the beauty of this underground world and the desire of visitors from near and far to see it.