Crystal Cave —The World’s Largest Underground Geode
An ecological wonder, the Crystal Cave, is one attraction not to be missed! No trip to Put-in-Bay is complete without a trip down under to see the stunning cave. Located on the grounds of the Heineman Winery, this unique treasure complements the local winery and beautiful wine garden.
The Crystal Cave Particulars
The Crystal Cave is home to the largest known geode in the world. The gorgeous celestine crystals grow up to 3 feet in width. The walls are blanketed in strontium sulfate, a bluish mineral called celestite. They can grow as large as 8 to 18 inches in length.
Tours of the Heineman Winery and cave are offered forv$4 for children ages 6 to 11. and $8 for adults. Tours are offered seven days a week from early May until late September. On Sunday, tours begin at noon and continue until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, cave tours start at 11 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Be sure sure to pack a sweater as the temperature in the cave is always a little cooler than outside.
The History of the Crystal Cave
The cave was discovered in 1897 by miners digging a well to provide water for the Winery. The cave was quite a remarkable discovery! As they accidentally came upon the Crystal Cave, the sheer size took all by surprise. Originally they harvested crystals and sold them for the manufacturing of fireworks. This harvesting expanded the cave to its current size.
The Crystal Cave also played a significant role in saving the Heineman Winery during Prohibition years. Before Prohibition, Put-in-Bay was home to many wineries making their wines. The passage of the Volstead Act impacted the island hard, and all other 17 wineries closed.
Heineman Winery was blessed to have the entrepreneurial brain of Norman Heineman, son of founder Gustav, leading the way. Norman opened up the Crystal Cave to visitors, selling unfermented grape juice and tickets in order to survive this difficult time. The Crystal Cave is located about a mile from downtown Put-in-Bay. Nearby attractions include Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center, the Put-in-Bay Airport, and Saunders Golf Course.
Heineman Winery History
Gustav Heineman, who was an immigrant from Baden, Germany, opened Heineman Winery in 1888. Baden is the grape growing region of Germany, and Heineman came loaded with expert knowledge of winemaking.
The Lake Erie Islands are ideal for winemaking. The grapes in the region are exceptional thanks to perfect soil conditions and a long growing season due to the warming effect of Lake Erie. It is its own winemaking paradise!
Heineman Winery makes all types of wine from native grapes on the island, such as the Labrusca grape. They make every type of wine from white to red and their most popular, the Pink Catawba or Pink Cat, as it is called.
The Heineman Winery facility consists of a beautiful wine garden and gift shop, which are both open the same hours as the Crystal Cave. Enjoy wine along with cheese plates and bring home bottles of wine and geodes after your summer on Put-in-Bay.