The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 2, June 2006
striker tapped the stalactite, I heard up close what those early gift-shop records called “the music of the ages.”
    Martin Luther composed A Mighty Fortress is Our God (Ein' Feste Burg in the original German) around 1529, and it seems to have been one of Sprinkle’s favorites; in my research into the instrument I had heard several recordings of the tune as Sprinkle arranged it for his creation. In that fist moment inside what Campbell called the Hall of Giants, I realized my fears that the Great Stalacpipe Organ might be nothing more than a gimmick to lure tourists were unfounded – I was hearing rock sing in the very center of an instrument so immense and complex as to inherently defy any attempt to adequately describe or capture in a recording.
    Sprinkle was an enigmatic engineer and organist who, according to the tale, toured the cave with his son Robert on a fateful day in 1954 on a holiday from his work at the Pentagon. Current guides at Luray Caverns tell that Sprinkle heard a performance on the Organ and Chimes, possibly “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and realized the unique opportunity that Luray Caverns’ iron-rich formations offered to produce an instrument that would been impossible to construct in any prior time in history. A variation of the story of the instrument's conception is that Sprinkle's son Robert hit his head on a stalactite, producing a tone that inspired Sprinkle to invent the instrument.
    Though it took three years to complete construction the instrument and the ‘robot organist’ (an automated player system controlled by rolls of perforated plastic), maintenance and periodic upgrades to the Great Stalacpipe Organ are perpetual. Before his passing in 1990, the work was supervised by Sprinkle himself; today, Luray Caverns engineer Larry Moyer supervises the maintenance efforts. The difficulty arising from the constant corrosion of electronic parts and Sprinkle’s own desire that the instrument be kept up-to-date have led to eventual replacement of most 

of the original wiring and substantial upgrades to the player components.
    During the first three decades of the instrument's performances in Luray Caverns, vinyl records (7-inch 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM as well as flexi-disc postcard recordings) of the Great Stalacpipe Organ were sold in the Luray Caverns gift shop. These early recordings featured Sprinkle at the organ manual playing his arrangements of well-known folk, religious, and classical songs. Later recordings of Sprinkle's performances were sold on cassette tape before organist Monte Maxwell created his own arrangements and recordings of the organ, which are currently sold in the gift shop on a compact disc titled Midnight in the Caverns. It is still Sprinkle’s music that plays for tours, however, and in hearing them the listener can appreciate that Sprinkle developed these programs over the course of nearly 50 years working with his instrument.
    Sometimes on the tour, visitors raise questions about Sprinkle’s right to make such extensive modifications to the cave environment in Luray Caverns. In sum, the alterations made to the formations within Luray Caverns are not much greater than those that arise in the process of installing handrails or electric lighting in any cave. Nonetheless, the original installation of the instrument and its ongoing maintenance have doubtlessly interfered with the natural growth of the cave. Sprinkle may have been weighing this question himself when he selected the wording for the plaque dedicated in honor of his work: “man’s genius and the hand of God are in perfect harmony.” There is no other place in the world where such music can be heard, and it is doubtful that there would be any other way to create it.
    Though Sprinkle’s love for the instrument and the music he arranged for it is evident from the recordings he made and the programming of the player system, I am left to wonder about the full potential of the Great 


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