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Posted January 7, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Battlefield foundation looking for partner to reopen caverns

By Sally Voth

The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation is looking for a potential partner to reopen Crystal Caverns at the north end of Strasburg.

The caverns and the adjacent Stonewall Jackson Museum shuttered a couple years after the 2008 death of their owner Leo Bernstein.

The museum is now the site of the Gateway to Shenandoah Visitor Center at Hupp's Hill Civil War Park and a Civil War museum. The visitor's center opened in September 2011, several months after the Civil War park.

The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation and the town of Strasburg partnered on the visitor's center, and the foundation runs the museum, which is leased from the Bernstein Family Foundation.

"We're talking to some groups about the possibility of those being reopened," John Christiansen, executive director of the battlefield foundation, said of Crystal Caverns. "There's nothing definite. It's just something that we're exploring.

"We're not interested in running commercial caving. I think that has been a big filter. In accordance with the terms of our lease with the Bernsteins, we can only run the caves for educational purposes."

Nearly 10 years ago, the caverns featured on an episode of the Travel Channel's "Haunted Road Trip" series. Famous psychic Jeane Dixon was a frequent visitor to the caves, which she claimed had high energy levels, former Wayside Museums director, Babs Funkhouser said at the time.

"Some of my guides have told me that they've heard music playing in the cave -- military marching bands," she said.

Funkhouser said psychics claimed to sense the spirits of Civil War soldiers, Indians and colonial settlers at the museum and in the caverns.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com

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