Caves are formed when limestone is dissolved by flowing water. In the ceiling at the back of the cave you can see a large, natural chimney where water has seeped into the rock from above. As limestone dissolves, calcite is deposited to from flowstone, seen inside the chimney. Flowstone formations, known as stalactites and stalagmites, are created slowly over hundreds of years. Unfortunately, early cave explorers removed most of these formations.The Tory House
In vain they search!
From out a hidden cave,
The entrance like to many others more
Of crevices among the placid rocks,
The spy looked down and grimly watched secure
Their every act as fearlessly they moved;
Nor knew their danger.
Dearly would he sell
His life if found, this strange and silent foe!"
Excerpt from Magdalene Merritt's "The Tory Spy," Helderberg Harmonies (1909).
[The picture in the lower right has the following title and captions]:
A large stalactite is shown hanging from the chimney in this drawing from Verplanck Colvin's article, "The Helderbergs," Harpers New Monthly Magazine, October 1869.
During the American Revolution, a British loyalist, or Tory, named Jacob Salisbury, led raids on patriot farms in the valley below. After burning and looting, the raiders escaped to this well-hidden cave. Smoke rising through the cave's natural chimney eventually drew a search party here. The story is told that Salisbury was captured, tried, and hanged in this hideout, which then became known as the "Tory House."