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Interpreting the Evidence

Howe Caverns, Schoharie County, 1929

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    The Great Depression and WW II (1929 - 1945)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Central New York
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Howe Caverns, Schoharie County, 1929 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The Lagoon of Venus at Howe Caverns in Schoharie, New York.
Historical Context
This cavern, located in Schoharie County, New York, was discovered in 1842 when a farmer’s cows would stand next to a group of bushes on hot summer days.  When the farmer investigated why the cows collected in this area, he discovered a cool breeze coming from a hole in the ground.  He proceeded to dig out an entrance and explore these great underground passageways.

Howe Caverns began to form six million years ago, when eastern New York was part of the Atlantic Ocean.  As sea creatures died, their shells collected on the ocean floor.  Over a long period of time, more and more shells were deposited, and the bottom layers of shells and dirt compressed into limestone rock.  After millions of years, this land was lifted up out of the ocean. The rock was now exposed to rain, which slowly dissolved the limestone, making small cracks. As the cracks grew, streams flowed through them underground, carving out the caves.

Essential Question
How does geography influence culture and human settlement patterns?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the influence of geography on culture.
Historical Challenges
Who was the first white man to go into Howe Caverns? When were the first cave tours given, and how much did they cost?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: How do stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone form in Howe Caverns? Do any animals live in the caves?
Science: Research what makes up the limestone found in Howe Caverns.
Science: Why do Howe Caverns remain the same temperature year-round?
English Language Arts: Investigate the Howe Caverns website, and go to the Virtual Tour. Choose five formations found in the caves and write three interesting facts about each.