The following article written by PAGE NEWS and COURIER staff writer Wendy Bundy, was originally published on 10/12/2017.
NO STEPS, PAVED WALKWAY MAKE IT RARE AMONG UNDERGROUND SITES
LURAY – There may soon be a new way to enter Luray Caverns – and no steps, going in or coming out.
“Luray Caverns will soon realize a decades-long goal of eliminating the remaining steps on the 1-1/4 mile tour route in the world-renowned attraction,” said John Shaffer, Director of Public Relations for Luray Caverns Corporation. “The only steps leading from the Entrance Lobby into the caverns will be bypassed by excavating a 164-foot tunnel into the hillside adjacent to the Entrance Buiding.”
The work is being completed by Racey Engineering of Luray and Lantz Construction of Broadway. A public notice was issued by Lantz Construction on June 26 regarding this project.
The notice, signed by Kevin Gabel, Director of Construction Management for Lantz, stated, “blasting of rock for construction will be taking place at Luray Caverns between now and October. Appropriate parties will be provided with advance notice prior to each blasting event as required by the Town of Luray.”
This project is a continuation of work that began with the late H.T.N. (Ted) Graves, longtime Luray Caverns president, according to Shaffer. Graves began improving the walkways by adding brick, concrete and ramps through the tour portion of the caverns. While that part was finished in 1975, the steps into the building remained on the drawing board “due to uncertain methods and cost.”
“The exterior appearance of the historic Entrance Building will not be altered,” said Shaffer, “and the new entrance and walkway will maintain the cosmetic elements of the existing structure for a consistent outward appearance.”
There will also be a covered walkway connecting the existing building with the new entrance.
“Current President, John Graves and Sr. Vice President, Rod Graves over the past several years renewed efforts to achieve their father’s goal,” Shaffer stated.
The plan for this project was completed in March. It is anticipated that the work will be complete late this year.
Once completed, Luray Caverns will be one of just a few underground attractions that provide tours on all-paved access, according to Shaffer. This will make “the attraction more accessible to visitors today and into the future,” he added.