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Cave Owner Is Selling a Hole in the Ground

August 5, 1996

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) _ Gary Ford wants to sell a hole in the ground for $550,000. So far, no takers.

The owner of Lost World Caverns has been trying for two years to sell the caves and the surrounding 10 acres, which include a gift shop and picnic area.

Ford said he is selling partly because the state has not helped him promote his business.

``The state promotes the state parks, the rafting and skiing. But we’re sitting here, less than two miles off I-64, and I can’t even get a sign letting people know what exit to get off to get to us,″ he said.

Too many signs confuse travelers, said Bill Wilshire, director of traffic engineering for the Highway Division.

Ford, whose sheep and cattle farm is next to the property, said he bought Lost World in 1991 to keep the area from being overdeveloped. He would not say how much he paid.

Ford takes care of the caverns, which sightseers can explore on their own. His father runs the gift shop. The caverns draw about 15,000 visitors every year, at up to $8 each.

He said he wants to sell to someone who will limit development.

``A lot of caves have light systems and sound systems, and put a lot of psychedelic stuff on the walls,″ he said. ``We don’t do that.″

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