The Great Stalacpipe Organ | The World’s Largest Instrument
If you were to answer the question: “Where is the World’s Largest Instrument Located“, and you answered “The Luray Caverns!“, then I would accuse you of using a smartphone to Google answers during a quiz.
Then if you then were to follow up the question “What is the Worlds Largest Instrument“, with “A giant Stalacpipe Organ“, I would definitely disqualify you. No way anyone has such trivia knowledge.. And you are ruining my quiz.
However, you would be correct.
What is the Great Stalacpipe Organ?
Deep within the Luray Caverns, located just west of Luray, Virginia (USA), you will find a underground cavern system, beautifully decorated with Stalacites, Stalagmites, flowstones, mud flows, columns and mirrored pools. However, its not only the exquisite cave formation that has attracted visitors by the millions.
Deep within this cavern system you will find The Great Stalacpipe Organ, the worlds largest instrument.
The organ consists of rubber mallets, which are wired stalactites, each one producing a different note when struck. The mallets are connected to a four-keyboard central console, and pressing the keys activates the different mallets. The creator, Leland W. Sprinkle carefully chose each of the stalactites for their specific note. He then finely ground each stalactites to achieve the perfect sound. The stalactites are spread out over a staggering 3.5 acres (14,000 m2), using a five mile long system of wires. However, the magnificent organ can be heard everywhere within the 64 acres (260,000 m2) confines, through the cavern wide loudspeaker system.
The History of the Great Stalacpipe Organ
The History of the Luray Caverns
The Luray Caverns were discovered on August the 13. in 1878 by five local men and when the owner of the land where the cave enterance was located, went bankrupt in September 14. 1878, it was purchased by Andrew Campbell, William Campbell, and Benton Stebbins. Andrew Campbell was one of the five men, which had discovered the Luray Caverns just weeks before, but they kept the discovery of the cave secret until after the sale.
This resulted in two years of legal cases, where they were accused of fraud, for keeping the true value of the land a secret. The purchase was later nullified and sold to The Luray Cave and Hotel Company.
The ownership of the caverns swapped hands numerous times the coming years, all while rumors about the caverns’ amazing formation spread around the country. But it wasn’t until Encyclopedia Britannica and a travel writer for the New York Times, both wrote about the caverns that it saw a surge in popularity.
By the year 1906, there were 18.000 visitors. This number has only rissen and the Luray Caverns now has 500.000 guests each year.
The Creation of the Great Stalacpipe Organ – Leland W. Sprinkle
The Great Stalacpipe Organ was created in the mid 1950s, by Leland W. Sprinkle. But long before the organ was installed, the Luray Caverns had often been filled with beautiful tunes from hymns, folk tunes and other well known pieces, as a part of the regular tour.
The idea for the organ was according to mr. Sprinkle, concieved on a guided tour he was on in 1954. The musical performance played during this tour, made him consider the posibilites of the caverns itself working as an instrument.
According to an article posted in a Meccano Magazine in 1961, another theory to the invention of The Great Stalacpipe Organ, is that during this tour, Sprinkle’s son, Robert hit his head on a stalactite, which produced a beautiful sound. This sound supposedly inspired Sprinkle to invent the instrument.
It took Sprinkle three years to create the organ. He used this time to find and shave all the appropriate stalactite needed for his invention. After all the stalactite were perfectly tuned, they were wired up to the organ console, which was created by Klann Organ Supply.
The stalactites used for the organ are made of mineral formations that are no longer growing, resulting in that The Stalacpipie Organ will never need tuning.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ Music
In the years after the creation of The Stalacpipe Organ, the organ was played by Sprinkle, and his recordings were sold in the Luray Caverns gift shop.
Later, organist Monte Maxwell created his own arrangements on the Great Stalacpipe Organ, which are currently being sold on CD in the Luray Caverns.
In 2011, a Finnish band by the name of Pepe Deluxé were the first to write and record original compositions on the The Great Stalacpipe Organ.
Below you can hear some of the beautiful recordings played on the organ:
If you want to know more about The Great Stalacpipe Organ and the rest of the Luray Caverns, then visit their website:
TriumphRainbow – www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfHYmd87xwg