Lester Howe

HISTORY

New York State's Second Most Visited Natural Attraction!

Discovery By Humans

Howe Caverns, which was discovered 20 years before the outbreak of the Civil War, has a history that follows America’s transformation from a farm-based economy to an industrial nation. It was a time when great fortunes were made by leaders of the Industrial Revolution and a time when man was eager to exert his command over nature.

Prior to the arrival of the German Palatine Settlers in the Schoharie Valley in the early 1700s, the local Native Americans knew what they called “Otsgaragee” or “Cave of the Great Galleries.” In historical records, there is some disagreement as to this translation, which suggests the Native Americans explored deep into the cavern. A second translation is “Great Valley Cave,” which may be more accurate, as many believe the Native Americans’ superstitions may have kept them from exploring the cave.

The first white man to enter the cave did so in the early 1770s. Perhaps Johnathan Schmul, a peddler, had been calling on families in the mill town of Kobel’s Kill (today, Cobleskill) when he sought refuge from a Native American attack by hiding at the entrance to the cave. Schmul later confided in a local pastor, Rev. John Peter Resig, “I found a cave when the Indians were after me. That’s my home. But be mum about this. Should war break out, then flee to this cave and you will be safe.” Schmul and Resig vanished quite suddenly from the historical records, as did the Native Americans of the Schoharie Valley, who fled the area with their Tory counterparts at the end of the American Revolution.

*Please note: historical excerpts taken from The Remarkable Howe Caverns Story by Dana Cudmore, The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY, Copyright 1990.

Little was known or remembered of Otsgaragee by the early 1800’s when Lester Howe, his wife Lucinda, and their three infant children – Huldah Ann, Harriet Elgiva and Halsey John – settled in the valley east of Cobleskill. The location of the cave entrance had been lost to history, but there was talk of a mysterious “Blowing Rock” – a strange rocky ledge from which a cool breeze of air emanated on even the hottest days.

Howe and his family farm were located adjacent to the caverns’ hidden entrance (the farmhouse foundation stood on Dug Road, just east of Boreali’s Restaurant until I-88 was built). There is no doubt Howe was fascinated by stories of the strange local phenomenon “Blowing Rock.” Reports of the day placed its location just north of the “Kobles Kill” and ten miles west of the Schoharie River – on or near his property.

There are several different accounts of the caverns’ history, but the most often told (shortened for the touring public) is that Howe found the cave by accident on the 22nd of May, 1842. On many hot summer days he noticed his cows pastured in this same spot, not on his land, but land owned by neighbor and friend, Henry Wetsel. When Howe approached his herd, he began to notice the temperature getting cooler. His dairy herd had gathered near the cave’s hidden entrance to feel the cool air coming from below, and Howe had indeed found the mysterious “Blowing Rock” and gave credit, in particular, to a cow named “Millicent” for helping with the discovery. Howe then entered the cave with his neighbor Henry Wetsel.

*Please note: historical excerpts taken from The Remarkable Howe Caverns Story by Dana Cudmore, The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY, Copyright 1990.

Cool Cave Tours

Are you ready for a fun and affordable family day out? How about a vacation full of learning for all ages? Whether you live in New York and want to take a day trip, or you are driving through the area looking for a fun affordable family vacation, Howe Caverns is one of the most exciting NYS attractions. Your family can spend the day or several days in the park and experience Howe Caverns above and below ground!

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CAVE TOURS
ADVENTURE TOURS
TOURS PACKAGES
GROUP TOURS
MOTEL

Get ready to experience the most immersive escape rooms in the Capital Region. 

“The Cave” is the first of three high-tech escape rooms to open at Howe Caverns.
Do you think YOU know HOWE TO ESCAPE!?

The Ultra-Max penitentiary known as “The Cave” houses the most notorious criminal geniuses in the country. Built 15 stories underground, The Cave has the latest in cutting-edge escape deterrent technology deployed in the facility. Many infamous individuals have spent the waning years of their lives behind its triple-reinforced cell walls and state-of-the-art security systems. This distinguished clientele has resulted in multiple escape attempts, but none have been successful… until now! A motley crew of the criminal elite, led by maniacal mastermind, Stu “The Flu” Galopso, have done the impossible and breached the confines of their containment sector. Society’s most dangerous and unpredictable fugitives are now at large, and only YOU can stop them!

Escape Room By Reservation Only
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We Dare You!

Howe Caverns Haunted Cave Tour…This October!
Join the Keepers of the Cave (if you dare) this Halloween Season for the first totally immersive haunted tour – The Underworld at Howe Caverns. Venture 16 stories down to a world of creatures you were never meant to see and experience the haunted boat ride. Tours begin September 25th through November 1st. Get Your Tickets Online Now @ HoweScary.com! Tickets are Limited and Entrance is By Reservation Only. There are no up charges, no add-ons, no express passes needed! All tickets are fully inclusive and are sold for a set date and time so there are no long lines to wait in. And, the best part is that you never have to worry about bad weather, rain delays, or freezing temperatures since it’s always 52 degrees in The Underworld. There are no walk-in spaces available so hurry to HoweScary.com today!

Not Recommended for 10 and under. 14 and under with guardian.
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All ticket sales are nonrefundable, non-transferable, and may not be exchanged.

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