CALAVERAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — In their quest for California gold, miners found the opening to Moaning Caverns in 1840. With only ropes and candles, they made their descent into a 10-million-year-old, 410-feet deep cave.
Today’s venture isn’t as harrowing, thanks to modern-day technology and awesome tour guides like Serena Barth.
“Today, we are going to be heading 165 feet down into the Earth, but first, we need to go into this backroom here. Come on in,” Barth told FOX40.
The descent down into the Moaning Caverns begins with an Indiana Jones-like passageway to the 165-foot-tall spiral staircase built in the 1920s.
“The material used to build this staircase came from decommissioned WWI battleships that were being taken apart,” Barth explained.
FOX40’s Melanie Townsend described the staircase as sturdy and kind of scary.
But reaching that final step is well worth it, as visitors look around to see a grandiose cave of wonders.
“There’s no gold in here,” Barth explained. “They are credited with discovering California’s largest vertical chamber that’s open to the public, but they couldn’t see it because they had a candle.”
“People living in this region thousands of years ago believed that a stone giant or a carnivorous monster by the name of ‘Chay-lum-chay’ would come into Moaning Caverns to hum or moan to attract unsuspecting visitors, and drag them into the depths,” Barth added.
It turns out the real reason for those ghoulish moans isn’t scary at all.
It’s really the sounds of water dripping into hollow rock formations that reverberate off the acoustic cavern.
“There are no carnivorous monsters in Moaning Caverns,” Barth told FOX40. ”Although, sometimes the tour guides get a little hungry by the end of the day.”
To feed their appetite for adventure, visitors can also take the expedition tour down a hole and crawl through yards of darkness underneath this ancient cave.
“Definitely not an adventure I’d recommend if you are claustrophobic, but otherwise, it’s really good,” Barth said.
And there’s plenty of other fun options for the not-so-daring devils at Moaning Caverns Adventure Park.
Barth said while their zip lining and rock-climbing wall are closed indefinitely, they will resume their expeditions deeper into the cave later this year. People should wait for the announcement in late July or early August.