Organ Cave, West Virginia

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Organ Cave, West Virginia
Unincorporated community
Organ Cave, West Virginia is located in West Virginia
Organ Cave, West Virginia
Organ Cave, West Virginia
Coordinates: 37°42′46″N 80°26′28″W / 37.71278°N 80.44111°W / 37.71278; -80.44111Coordinates: 37°42′46″N 80°26′28″W / 37.71278°N 80.44111°W / 37.71278; -80.44111
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Greenbrier
Elevation 2,178 ft (664 m)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 304 & 681
GNIS feature ID 1555270[1]

Organ Cave is an unincorporated community in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, United States. Organ Cave is located along U.S. Route 219 and West Virginia Route 63 at the Organ Cave, 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Ronceverte.

As might seem obvious from the name of the town, the principal attraction here is Organ Cave, the ninth longest mapped cave in the United States. Organ Cave was mined for salpeter, the principal ingredient of gunpowder, during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his troops held a church service in the main entrance room of the cave during the war. Remains of the Civil War mining are in an excellent state of preservation and are seen on the commercial tour.

The early saltpeter miners discovered the bones of a large, unknown animal. The owner of the cave sent some of the bones (a forearm and a hand with giant claws) to Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson described them as "Megalonyx" (Latin for Giant Lion). This was the first reported find of a giant ground sloth in the United States. Jefferson soon determined that the animal was actually an extinct sloth, not a lion, but the Genus name "Megalonyx" is retained to this day. This particular genus is now known as Megalonyx jeffersoni.


  1. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.