On Sept. 4, 1845, John Moore and his two sons were prospecting for lead in the Ozark Mountains near Indian Creek, just north of present-day Berryville. They didn’t find the lead they were looking for, but they did find a cave.
They named it after themselves—Moore’s Cave. It’s had many names since then, including Bear Cave, Maple Springs Cave, Joe Johnson Cave at Sycamore Hollow, Majestic Cave, Mystic Cave, and Mystery Cave. Today, it is known as Cosmic Cavern and is Arkansas’s largest, privately-owned show cave containing the Ozarks’ largest underground lake.
According to current owners, Randy and Anita Langhover, early explorers found the floor of the first chamber of the cave and a subterranean lake below the 200-foot (60m) opening. In the 1880s, the Ewell family homesteaded above the cave and mined “cave onyx,” which they carved into little figurines and jewelry to sell in Eureka Springs. In the 1920s, the mining was resumed by teenage boys. They shipped the cave onyx by train to become the gear shift knob of the Model A Ford. In 1927, a stairway into the cave was built for the first cave tours to begin. Through the years more and more of the cave was discovered and developed.
But the biggest discovery came in 1993, when Randy Langhover discovered a whole new section of the cave—more than 1,000 feet (300m)—and another subterranean lake. This doubled the tour through Cosmic Cavern and added a whole new experience featuring the “Oh My God” room, named after Randy’s words upon discovery. This new section was featured by CBS and also filmed by IMAX.
The Langhovers, who have owned the cave since 1980, say that’s just a nutshell of the history. There are many wonderful stories and tales of Cosmic Cavern that the guides share with visitors during tours of Cosmic Cavern.
The cave tour is approximately a 75-minute walking tour in the warmest cave in the Ozarks, at a steady 64 degrees (18 degrees C) and 96% humidity. The cave features a nine-foot (3m) soda straw, the longest known in the Ozarks, and two bottomless cave lakes. The first lake, South Lake, has had trout in it for nearly 50 years. Some of the trout have gone blind and most have lost their color.
Don’t forget your camera when you visit. The Silent Splendor room has pristine cave formations. The cave photographs well on phone cameras.
In addition to a general tour, visitors can also opt for a Wild Cave Tour and take part in gemstone panning. If you visit in the winter months, look for both golden and bald eagles in abundance around the cavern area.
Cosmic Cavern is located on AR 21 N. in Berryville and near Eureka Springs.