Shenandoah Caverns

In 1884 individuals construction workers building the Shenandoah Valley Railroad accidentally discovered a caverns west of Mt. Jackson.

Though locals had called the area Forestville for years, in 1921 it would be rechristened Shenandoah Caverns. Local entrepreneur and Woodstock resident Hunter Chapman bought the site from the Neff family who operated an orchard there. He began developing the property to attract tourists. This process included providing easy access to the caves and constructing a large hotel and visitor center. The site opened on Memorial Day, 1922.

Over the next several decades the caverns popularity would grow exponentially. It was the first location in Virginia to install an elevator to the caverns and an underground telephone. The railroad established a flag stop for passenger trains that brought tourists to the caverns. In the 1930s this service brought many notable individuals to the area, including movie star Greta Garbo.

On February 27, 1957 a fire badly damaged the hotel. Rail service had ended several years before and the need for such an institution had waned. The lodging facilities would never reopen.

However the caverns themselves remained incredibly popular. In 1966 the Hargrave family bought the site and expanded its footprint. Additions include the American Celebration on Parade site filled with parade floats and the Big Yellow Barn entertainment center. Today, the cavern continues to welcome thousands of visitors from around the world and is one of the county’s most notable natural features.

Cite this Page:

Shenandoah County Library, “Shenandoah Caverns,” Shenandoah Stories, accessed October 21, 2017, http://archives.countylib.org/tour/items/show/29.

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