Marengo Cave is a US National Natural Landmark in Indiana with a unique twist. They have a unique tour where they encourage you to throw away your money! No, it’s not a wishing well.
I’ve never seen this in any other cave. In one section of the Dripstone Trail tour, you can see where thousands of people have thrown up coins to the ceiling, which stick in the mud there (if they’re lucky). You’re encouraged to do the same.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have any coins, the tour guide will give you some. It’s all in good fun and the coins are periodically scraped off and given to charity.
Marengo Cave was discovered on September 6th, 1883 by two local youths, Blanche and Orris Hiestand. They were exploring a newly developed sinkhole which led them to the cave. The landowner was notified and the cave was opened for tours only a few days later. Today it’s a US National Natural Landmark.
There are two walking tours of Marengo Cave. The longer one is the Dripstone Trail tour which starts here.
The cave has quite a few formations including some nice stalagmites.
You’ll also see the previously mentioned coins on the ceiling and you’ll end up at this underground lake. Can you guess how deep it is? I won’t spoil the fun. You’ll need to take the tour to find out.
The shorter tour is the Crystal Palace tour and lasts about 40 minutes. You can do one right after the other. If you do, you might want to take a sweater. The average temperature in limestone caves is in the low 50’s. On a hot day, I’m usually fine for the length of the tour but I actually got cold doing the tours back to back.
This tour starts at the underground lake where the Dripstone Trail leaves off. You’ll soon see the underground waterfall near the site of the original sinkhole entrance.
Formations along this tour include an excellent example of cave bacon.
Near the end of the tour is the Crystal Palace room. Personally, I didn’t think it lived up to it’s name but it had some nice drapery resembling organ pipes.
If you need more adventure than the walking tours and you’re in a group, they offer two adventure tours —the Underground Adventure tour and the Waterfall Crawl. These tours are available year-round but need to be reserved 2 weeks in advance.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t part of a group so I didn’t get to experience any of the adventure tours but here is a video to give you an idea of what it’s like…
Location: 400 East State Road 64, Marengo, IN 4714
Hours: Open 9am to 5pm Eastern, every day. Memorial Day through Labor Day, they are open until 6pm on weekdays and 6:30pm on weekends.