This wonder has it all: an otherworldly beauty, a history measured not in centuries but in millennia and romantic legends, all of which urge visitors to let loose their imagination.
So it should come as no surprise that Penn’s Cave was selected by our readers as one of Centre County’s 7 Wonders.
Billed as America’s only all-water cavern, Penn’s Cave today welcomes thousands of visitors each year, who climb into boats for a tour of the cavern, highlighted by stalactites and stalagmites whose shapes have inspired names such as “The Statue of Liberty” or “Niagara Falls.” But feel free to see dragons or other shapes in the rock formations.
The limestone cavern, formed over millions of years, may best be known for the legend of Nitanee, the American Indian maiden, and her French pioneer lover, Malachi Boyer.
For his crime of loving Nitanee, according to an 1862 account by Seneca Indian Isaac Steele, Malachi was thrust into the water-filled cavern by the sons of Chief O-Ko- Cho and, after swimming a week in a vain effort to find an exit not guarded by the Indians, he crawled into a recess and “breathed his last,” according to the account on Penn’s Cave’s Web site.
According to legend, there are those who claim that on still summer nights, an echo can be heard in the cavern: “Nitanee, Nitanee.”
Penn’s Cave first opened to visitors in 1885, but today once those visitors emerge from the underground, they can also enjoy a 90- minute tour of the wildlife park above ground, featuring deer, elk, mountain lions, mustangs, black bears and more.
The Round Barn Find out the next wonder on Thursday.