Luray’s cave-strument

Luray’s cave-strument



Said to be the world’s largest instrument – the Luray Caverns’ Great Stalacpipe Organ plays the earth itself! –

Located deep in the Luray Caverns in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the worlds largest musical instrument.

Stalactites covering 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets.

The solenoid-actuated instrument was built in 1954 by mathemetician and scientist Leland W. Sprinkle. Any visitors recall hearing this ‘rock music’ in person? – The Stalacpipe Organ [Thanks, Michael!]

The tones of ancient stones

18 thoughts on “Luray’s cave-strument

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was there a few weeks ago, and they still play it from a player piano type mech on each tour.

  2. djwildstar says:

    I’ve visited Luray Caverns twice. The first time I visited, the Great Stalactite Organ was playing under some sort of player-piano or automatic control. So I have heard it play, although not with a performer at the keyboard. I remember being amazed at the sound, particularly with the spatial quality of hearing it live – the stalactites are located in a large chamber of the caverns, so individual notes come from all around you.

    The second time I visited it was not playing; I was told that they were having increasing problems with the solenoids and electrical wiring due to the cave environment.

    At least one CD is available: “Midnight at the Caverns” with Monte Maxwell performing on the Great Stalactite Organ. I got my copy at the Luray gift shop; I don’t know if copies are available online. The sound on the CD is very good, but you do lose some of the sense of the position of the individual tones within the cave.

  3. Collin Cunningham says:

    I myself have yet to attend but the spatial quality of the sound must be so awesome!

  4. Simon says:

    That’s amazing. Of course you could never build something like that these days. Environmentalists would have a fit destroying a natural habitat like that :)

  5. Collin Cunningham says:

    @Simon – may be quite the opposite. Environmentalists often support projects that promote the importance and beauty of the earth. the stalacpipe lithophone certainly shows how awesome the earth can sound

  6. Michael Fusion says:

    @Collin You’re welcome.

  7. Alison Scott says:

    I think we visited in about 1979 and I too remember there being some sort of automatic player on the tour. My dad has the album I think; I was quite young then.

  8. Jon says:

    A friend of mine made a site (and the photo from the wiki article) for the organ at

    It is linked in the wikipedia, but i figured i’d give props to someone i know. He put together a bunch of information on it, and actually had an opportunity to play it, but for some reason didn’t… i don’t remember why.

    Also, i agree that “environmentalists” would actually support such a project (with some oversight). Sometimes the only way to protect “natural” environments is to give them worth for people, aside from value for it’s own sake, which people may disagree over.

  9. Rachel Fox says:

    I heard this several times growing up. They will actually perform weddings in that cavern with the organ playing!

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