In Bermuda, the enchanting Crystal Caves attract tourists with their huge stalactites and stalagmites above the clear water pools. As a child, Michael K. Frith frequently visited the caves and never forgot their weird, otherworldly beauty. Those caves would eventually inspire Frith, working with puppeteer Jim Henson, to co-create Fraggle Rock, a beloved muppet TV series that premiered in 1983. From Jennifer Nalewicki's lovely piece about Frith and the Crystal Caves in Smithsonian:
"These Caves in Bermuda Inspired the ‘80s TV Show 'Fraggle Rock'" (Smithsonian)
...It wasn’t simply the caves themselves that inspired Frith; it was also the way they were discovered. During the last Ice Age, roughly 1.6 million years ago, the Crystal Caves formed as a result of rainwater eroding the surrounding limestone, but they remained unknown to Bermudians up until 1907, when Carl Gibbons and Edgar Hollis, two local boys, accidentally discovered them. As the story goes, during a game of cricket their ball rolled next to a small crevice that was emitting warm gusts of air. Curious, the duo began digging with their hands, dropping a rock through the narrow opening to see how far down the hole went. Hearing a "plink," Gibbons ran the short distance home and grabbed a crowbar and a kerosene lamp, and they continued digging only to find a subterranean world beneath them....
“The thing that got me about the story [of their discovery] is the idea that these kids were suddenly in a place where no human being had ever been before,” says Frith, who is now retired. “I always felt that must have been an astonishing thing to be standing there with a flashlight and tracing its beam and hitting the stalactites, stalagmites and the glitter of the water running down them. And then there’s that amazing sound of the drips coming down, and you hear the plink plink as the drops hit the [pool of] water, and there is no other sound...”
“Caves are really like one’s imagination,” he says. “You’re in a place, and you see it and recognize it and understand it, but you know that a tunnel can lead you off somewhere else. It’s something that is absolutely unlimited and every one of those different tunnels can be a different adventure. And at the end of each one there can be a different story.”
(top image: Crystal Cave by Andrew Malone, CC)