Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Just across the street from Luray Caverns site, the Luray Museum sits holding displays and revealing the stories that comprise the evolution of the Shenandoah Valley as it is known today. Beginning first with the stories of American Indians who shaped the land, the museum unfolds a history rich with artifacts that were used by Valley residents of the past.
Admission to the museum is included in the price of the Luray Caverns ticket. The museum itself is very small, but so packed with artifacts that you could spend at least 30 minutes inside. History buffs who enjoy old sewing machines, learning about early printing and printing press techniques, and discovering the world of early settlers will be intrigued by the museumís collection.
Beyond the museum, there is a gift shop, and beyond the gift shop there is an unassuming area where you can pan for precious stones. Children and adults alike enjoy taking their bags filled with dirt and sifting in through water to find a valuable gem or two. The only caveat to this is that, unlike the museum admission, bags of dirt are not included in the Luray Caverns admission price. It is a delightful experience, especially after walking through the rich, earthy caverns and exploring all the history offered by the museum. However, as an additional cost to the regular admission, it is an activity that you could truly bypass and not feel that you had missed anything. Most visitors who panned for stones were with children.
The outdoor area of the museum also includes a seating area and picnic table. With a bit of advanced planning, one could arrive early and leave enough time to simply enjoy the outdoors before heading out directly after the cavern tour.