Howes Cave, N.Y. - Howe Caverns' General Manager Robert Holt has finished compiling a new book about the Caverns that will be available at the Great Cave's 80th Anniversary Community Celebration on Aug. 1."There are so many wonderful stories about early tours of the Caverns and of its discoverer Lester Howe. Our 80th Anniversary is a perfect opportunity to have these stories available for everyone to enjoy," Mr. Holt said. The book will be on sale in the Howe Caverns' Gift Shop. The 80-page book, Lester Howe & Howe Caverns -- "The Hole Story." features many stories that had been archived at the Caverns including one from the 1870s that describes Lester Howe's Cave House (now home to the Cave House Museum of Mining & Geology) as "an elegant hotel, recently built, near the mouth of the cave." An article published in an 1888 edition of the Dairyman newspaper, notes: "When someone suggested making ready to explore the cave, everyone assented. Seven o'clock saw a uniformed procession filing down the stairs to the entrance. Everyone carried a lantern and wore a look of determination." In 1989, when Mr. Holt was chairman of Howe Caverns' 60th anniversary celebration, he solicited memories from some of those who worked to reopen the Caverns in 1929. Twenty years ago, John G. Homburger recalled: "As a young whipper-snapper of 18 then, I look back from my present age of 80 and count as best as I can the stalwart men I worked with. The businessmen of affluent mien, farmers who could use an extra dollar during off hours...young men looking to pay room and board, finish an education, attend a kitchen ‘tunk' (square dance house party), or own a motorcycle or Tin Lizzie." Memories of the effort to reopen the Caverns also were shared by Mabel Sagendorf whose husband, John J. Sagendorf, was instrumental in the effort to reopen the Caverns and owned much of the property where Howe Caverns is today. "My husband," Mrs. Sagendorf recalled, "often had to go up and down the shaft in a huge bucket (used by workers before the elevators were installed). Once he wanted me to go with him, which I did -- a never-to-be-forgotten, interesting ride." Mrs. Sagendorf died in 2001 at age 102. Mr. Holt is a local historian and has been associated with Howe Caverns for almost 40 years. He has written two other books, "O Zion, Haste, Your Mission High Fulfilling on the occasion of the 1993 Bicentennial of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cobleskill. In 1997, he wrote, The History of the Town of Cobleskill, 1797-1997 which celebrated the Bicentennial of the community in which he resides. Howe Caverns, New York State's second most-visited natural attraction, is located between Albany and Cooperstown, off Exit 22 of I-88. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. For more information about the Cavalcade of Cars and other special events at Howe Caverns, visit http://www.howecaverns.com/.
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