Bomberger Cave: gone, but not forgotten

By on December 6, 2017

The entrance to Bomberger Cave, blasted shut with dynamite in the 1930s, was once a cool break room for parched quarry workers. A small slit where the 12 foot opening used to be is the only physical reminder that remains of this local curiosity.

Just north of downtown Lititz near the rolling hills of Lexington is the historic Bomberger property.

Originally settled in the early 1700s by Christian Bomberger, the area has been in the same family for about three centuries and is now in its 10th generation of ownership. What joy Christian would feel today if he knew that after all of this time his ancestors would still be lovingly overseeing the property.

While many know about this area’s storied past, few know about a unique curiosity once located in one of the farm fields — the Bomberger Cave.

First discovered in April of 1878, this “cavity” was most likely spotted during mining for limestone at an adjoining quarry. From that day on, it was an object of mystery.

A passage from the December 4, 1896 edition of the Lititz Record states:

“Last Thursday afternoon, the High and Grammar Schools visited the cave on the property of John Bomberger. The entrance is 12 feet high and the length of the cave is about 20 feet. Although small, it is a perfect natural cave and well worth visiting.”

Even more interesting is that, according to various sources, the cave sloped down, and at the bottom was a natural stream of pure spring water which quenched the thirst and cooled down the employees of the quarry during that time period.

Greg Bomberger, descendent of the original settler, was captivated by stories of the cave when he was a kid.

“Grandpa used to take me to the blacksmith shop in Lexington and would tell me stories about the cave,” he said. “One day, barley chaffing was tossed down into the spring. Well, it eventually came out at the head end of the Lititz Springs Park. Of course, this was before they dynamited it and permanently closed it off forever to the curious and daring public.”

At one time, long ago, Native Americans camped in this area. Arrowheads collected in the vicinity seem to prove this theory.

“Grandpa had a cane with a nail on the end, and they’d walk the fields late in the springtime,” Bomberger stated in a recent interview. “They’d poke around and find them in the fields.”

In those days, collecting such artifacts was common. Perhaps the natives used the cave for shelter? Today, trespassing on private property in search of arrowheads is forbidden, which more or less put an end to that hobby.

In 1929, Henry Bomberger cleaned out the quarry, removing old stoves and other junk that was tossed into it over the years. During this time, the cave was still apparently being accessed, but by sometime in the 1930s the quarry was abandoned and the cave was blasted shut by dynamite for the sake of safety.

The cave still exists, but remains covered by thousands of pounds of rock. While nobody can access it anymore, a very small slit on a hill remains where the entrance used to lie.

The Bomberger Cave is just one of the many historic curiosities of the Lititz area, and you can bet that this author will continue to pursue and write about many more in 2018!

Cory Van Brookhoven is a freelance feature writer who focuses on local history. He is also the president of the Lititz Historical Foundation. He welcomes reader feedback at coryvb@hotmail.com.

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