Visitors see caverns' fantastic forms in new light By MARGA LINCOLN Independent Record
LA HOOD - High above the Jefferson River and tucked into the limestone depths of Cave Mountain lies a spectacular series of caverns.
The natural beauty of the Lewis and Clark Caverns has drawn visitors' admiration for more than a century.
But now, newly installed LED full-spectrum lights further illuminate the subtle colors and intricate carvings of what is considered one of the most highly decorated caves in the Northwest.
Park Manager Lynette Kemp, who started at the park as a tour guide in 1991, marvels at what the lighting reveals.
She points out the subtle hues of red, orange and purple in the calcite columns of the Paradise Room.
"You could never see them before," she said.
Under the yellowish, hazy light of incandescent bulbs, the colors were more beige and brown.
"The LED lighting gives a real sharp crispness to the formations. They stand out now with depth, light and shadow," she said.
The park has invested $800,000 in the lighting project so far, she said. It's complete in a quarter of the caverns. Award-winning designer Frank Florentine of the Smithsonian Institution has completed the full lighting design for the caverns.
Kemp estimated another $1 million is needed to finish the project.
Each of the new lights in the Paradise Room operates off its own computer software, and is part of a light show that gradually illuminates different features in the cavern.