of years ago, the area was covered
by a shallow sea. In this sea lived ancient relatives to
modern shellfish.Their shells were made of calcium carbonate.
When the animals died, they of
course, left their shells behind.Over time the shells broke
down into a limey ooze. The layer of ooze
became quite thick.
Tremendous underground forces slowly caused the sea bottom to rise.
This put great force on
the ooze.Over time and exposure to the great forces, the ooze turned to
What once had been a shallow sea disappeared. Leaving the
limestone close to the new surface.
Later the area became active with volcanic action. This
covered the area with new material.
Over a great deal of time, the newer material broke down into soil
suitable for plants to grow in.
The climate changed and the area was covered by a tropical rain forest
with vast amounts of rain.
The rain drops would fall through the air and pick up carbon dioxide.
This water would the percolate
through the rotted vegetation on the floor of the
rain forest, picking up more carbon dioxide,
creating a weak solution of carbonic acid.
The carbonic acid solution would make its way through the layers of
material before it reached the
layer of limestone.This is when the magic starts.
The carbonic acid solution started to slowly eat
away at small cracks in the limestone.Over time the cracks became
The ground rose and the water table lowered, leaving air pockets in the
once water filled chambers.
This allowed the dripping of a solution of water and
dissolved calcium carbonate. When a drop of
this solution fell from the ceiling, a bit of
calcium carbonate was deposited on the ceilings surface.
This was the beginning of stalactites.
Finally the surface of the floor was exposed. The drippings
left deposits there to build up
forming stalagmites.Time and physics create many more types
of formations seen in caves.
There are many caves within the limestone of the area. One of
these caves is named
"Cave of the Winding Stair".
It is within the boundaries of the State Park.
This is not for the casual tourist.
This one is for the experts only.
The caves that you will tour are named El Pakiva and Tecopa.
They are connected by a man made tunnel. The walk inside the mountain,
through the caves is about one quarter mile.
It is about one half mile to get to the entrance. The
walking distance, round trip, from the visitor's center is about a mile
and a half. The
trail can get pretty steep in some places. Wear good shoes
and take drinking water. Don't
forget your camera. You'll get some fine picture on the way
and inside the caves.
were the Mitchell's?
Jack Mitchell had a
colorful background. He left his home in Texas at the age of
Soon after, he met up with a gang of horse traders. As this
was like his new family, He couldn't
help but pick up some of their wily traits. This of course
had an effect on his outlook of everyday
life & survival.Later when he was old enough, he joined the
Army. This was the time of the
Spanish-American war.During this time he saw a bit of the
world while spending time in
China and Philippines.After his stint in the Army he went
back to his home in Texas.
He had felt uneducated and lacking in class since his exposure to the
officers in the Army.
Jack decided to improve his self esteem by getting an education.
One day he decided to go to the local school house to talk to the
teacher about improving his
education.Dressed in his snappy Army uniform he met the
teacher, Ida Belle Wyatt. A feather
could have knocked them both over.They had fallen in love in
the little one room school house.
They soon married.
Three daughters later and before the Great Depression, they were doing
pretty good for
themselves.Real estate in the Los Angeles area and a paying
gold mine near Kingman, Arizona.
Then the bottom dropped out and they were broke.
Jack decided his best bet was to go prospecting for something that was
still worthwhile mining.
One of the places he searched was the Providence Mountains.
He found silver deposits and staked
his claims.On his claimed property were the caves.
He took an interest in the caves and wondered if people would pay to
walk through them.
The silver deposits were not rich enough to pay off.
So with much thought he decided to try his hand at creating a tourist
The people came. The area was so nice, they paid to camp too!
From then on, Jack and Ida Mitchell's quest was to create their desert
resort and cave tour
operation.They made a decent living, but most important, they loved the