Saltpetre Cave

Saltpetre Cave (HM1ZYK)

Location: Natural Bridge, VA 24578 Rockbridge County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 37.783', W 79° 32.917'

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During the War of 1812 and the Civil War (1861-1865), earth from this cave was mined for the bird and bat droppings that it contained, to make gunpowder. The earth was saturated with cold water and left in hoppers for a day or two. Once boiled in iron kettles, the mixture of earth and water, called "soak", was filtered through wood ashes, producing a clear solution named nitrate of potassium. Boiled for a second time, the liquid was converted into crystallized salts or "saltpetre", and used to make gunpowder. It took 18 bushels of soak and 10 bushels of elm ashes to make 100 pounds of good saltpetre.

"{Natural Bridge is} God's greatest miracle in stone."
John Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1801-1835)
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, July 20th, 2017 at 10:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 628069 N 4165723
Decimal Degrees37.62971667, -79.54861667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 37.783', W 79° 32.917'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 37' 46.98" N, 79° 32' 55.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Cedar Creek Trail, Natural Bridge VA 24578, US
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