West Virginia's largest known cavern system has been shut down. A lawyer for Seneca Caverns owner Greer Industries says the business plan simply was not working.
The lawyer, J. Robert Gwynne, told The Charleston Gazette via e-mail that the limestone producer doesn't have any plans to mine through the Pendleton County caverns or in the area where they're located.
Bill Smith is director of the nearby Tucker County Convention and Visitors' Bureau. He says the dozen or so Seneca employees have been let go. The staff included not only tour guides, but also gift shop and restaurant workers.
According to the tourist attraction's Web site, the Riverton caverns were first discovered around A.D. 1400 by the Seneca American Indian tribe. In 1742, European explorer Laven Teter rediscovered the entrance and began exploring the cavern interior. Commercial tours began in 1928.
Liz Chewning, the state travel director for the Division of Tourism, says she's sorry to see Seneca shut down because it's a great attraction.