“Crystal Cave was discovered on a Sunday afternoon in March 1907. To escape the wrath of his parents, who had warned him that Sunday was no day to be playing ball, Carl Gibbons and his friend Edgar Hollis decided to go “in the land” to play. They were throwing the ball to each other, and on one of the throws from Edgar, the ball was pitched too high and went over into the grass. Naturally, Carl went in search of it.
Suddenly, he noticed the grass in a small section of the hill waving to and fro for no evident reason; upon close investigation, he discovered that warm air was emitting from a small hole in the earth. The opening was “no larger than a shilling piece” (about the size of a U.S. quarter).
Carl and Edgar began to dig into the earth with their hands, and then decided to drop a stone in the opening; the tinkling sound it made as it gradually fell heightened their interest in what was really below, first to force the air out and then to make the clinking notes.
In great excitement, Carl ran the short distance to his home, secured a crowbar and raced back to enlarge the hole. After removing a few bits of rock, the earth suddenly began to slip under their feet, and luckily, they were able to get away before a patch completely disappeared, leaving an opening about three feet in diameter.
Rather than scaring them, this quickened their senses of adventure, and after carefully surveying the situation, daringly Carl decided to enter the crevice, which he could see tapered off for some distance at a forty degree angle, thus affording much light to enter.
After travelling for several feet he decided to come back for his buddy, who refused to go without a light. Another quick trip home secured an old kerosene lamp, and with that, their only hope of survival for the next four hours as they explored the depths of Bermuda, they saw the handiwork of nature over thousands of years unfold before human eyes for the first time.
Both boys, unafraid of the unknown regions of darkness, which was broken only by the small beam from their lamp, lured by the musical echoes of their footsteps, fascinated by the dazzling columns of limestone formed by the union of stalactites and stalagmites, slowly descended to a point ninety feet below the surface.”
– Excerpt from “A History of The Crystal Caves” by David Summers
Following this incredible find, the Hollis family shared the discovery with the Wilkinson family, owners of the property since 1884. They excitedly set off to explore the entrance and to find out how deep it went. Mr. Wilkinson lowered his 14-year-old son, Bernard, into the hole using a strong rope tied to a tree. Bernard descended 140 feet with a lamp from a bicycle to light his way.
What lay beneath the surface was beyond his or the Wilkinson family's imagination. An underground world of delicate splendor with magnificent crystal formations of every size and shape surrounding a clear lake 55 feet deep. The caves have become one of Bermuda’s favourite attractions for thousands of visitors every year. When you enter the caves you can only imagine the sense of discovery and awe those two young boys experienced that day over a century ago.