Around six million years ago water began eroding the limestone deposited by an ancient sea, forming what is the largest scenic cavern in New York State. Only Niagara Falls attracts more tourists than this stunning cave in the Schoharie valley. Know to Native Americans, the cave was first explored by Lester Howe and his neighbor, Henry Wetsel in 1842. As the story goes, Howe discovered the cave thanks to his cows which were huddled at a hidden entrance to the caverns, enjoying the cool air that flowed from them- cavern temperatures are a constant 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Howe purchased the property, which was on Wetsel’s land, for $100 dollars and opened a hotel for tourists on the site in 1843. One hundred-seventy two years later, the Club visited the site this July. The lure of the Caverns produced one of the biggest monthly drive turnouts of the season. Leaving the Schenectady County Community College parking lot, the drive took advantage of the rural roads of Schenectady and Schoharie counties, extending the distance well beyond the thirty miles of the direct [and boring] route from college to the caverns. The group didn’t don caving gear for the hard-core two-hour adventure tour that turns tourists into spelunkers; still, club members spent an hour and a half, one hundred and fifty-six feet beneath the surface, awed by the stalactites [they point downward], stalagmites and other wonders of the cavern. Their caving experience was followed by a jaunt to the American Hotel in Sharon Springs for lunch. The hotel, originally built in 1847, sat dormant for years, reopening in 2001 after a five year restoration. Rachel Ray and the New York Times have extolled the virtues of the hotel which has received numerous accolades for its culinary excellence. The lunch menu offered classic American fare, nicely prepared, in an attractive, comfortable and relaxed setting- much to the satisfaction of Club members.