Imagine yourself at the narrow threshold of a vast, cool chamber, its vaulted ceilings and soaring walls obliquely lit by dim and distant sunlight. Faint rustles, dripping sounds, and chaotic flapping noises punctuate the damp air. Intrigued, you press far forward into the curving room, immediately alert to the skittering of tiny feet and the whooshing of small bodies overhead. You hurriedly switch on your lantern, lifting it before you to illuminate the scene.
Standing at the entrance of the tunnel I could see ahead of me a darkness so absolutely black it seemed a solid. The light of my lantern was but a sickly glow. Nevertheless, I forged ahead, and with each step the tunnel grew larger, and I felt as though I was wandering into the very core of the Guadalupe Mountains.
JIM WHITE, RECALLING HIS 1898 DISCOVERY OF CARLSBAD CAVERNS WHEN HE WAS 16 YEARS OLD. FROM "JIM WHITE'S OWN STORY," ©1932