Mercer Caverns in Murphys, California

Mercer Caverns in Murphys, California

By Kathleen Denly

Did you know Mercer Caverns was discovered on September 1, 1885 by a man searching for gold? The first tourists were lowered in by ropes and had only candlelight with which to view these enormous caverns. Worse yet, these candles were carried on boards held in the teeth of the tourists as they lowered themselves into the cave. Hmm. Ropes and flames. What could possibly go wrong there? Later, torches and different types of lanterns were used before electricity was finally threaded throughout the cave in 1901.

Another interesting bit of the Mercer Cavern story lies in how they came up with the money to install stairs for tourists. Apparently, Mercer Caverns is home to an extremely rare type of aragonite, so they cut off a chunk of this stuff and sent it off to the 1900 Paris World’s Fair where it won a special prize which came with a nice chunk of money. Sadly, Mr. Mercer passed on before the stairs could be installed, but his widow took over in his stead.

My family’s tour of the Mercer Caverns was very interesting and I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area. Oh, and if you do stop by, be sure to eat at one of the local restaurants in town. We ate at two and both were super yummy meals served up by friendly staff.

Learn to grow your own aragonite crystals HERE!

Learn more about the 1900 Paris World’s Fair HERE! (including a video of a very unique dance performance)

Learn about the history of Murphys, California HERE!

kathleen denly

Kathleen Denly writes stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. She lives in sunny Southern California, with her loving husband, three young boys, two cats, and too many fish to count. As a former foster parent, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, she spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.
Always happy to hear from her readers, you can email Kathleen at, visit her blog at, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest



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