Funtastic Facts about the River Styx in Oregon Caves
Way back in 1911, Ranger Dick Rowley named the beautiful little stream that gurgles through the cave the “River Styx”. Rowley worked at Oregon Caves for over 54 years. He would sometimes hide in the cave and when a tour would pass by, he would howl like a wolf.
According to ancient Greek mythology, Styx is the name of the underground river that separates the land of the living from Hades, the misty and gloomy home of the dead. Souls were ferried across the mythical River Styx by Charon, an ugly, bearded man with a crooked nose.
Styx is also the name of the Titan goddess that rules over the underworld. Styx gave birth to a daughter named Nike, the Greek goddess of speed, strength and victory.
Other cave streams around the world are also named the River Styx. Underground rivers named “Styx” are found in Australia, Turkey, Slovakia and also inside Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park - home to world’s largest cave with over 400 miles of passage.
The temperature of the water in Oregon’s River Styx hovers around 41 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The air temperature inside the cave is slightly warmer, around 44 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Rocks are good insulators and 44 degrees is the approximate average temperature at Oregon Caves National Monument, located around 4,000 feet above sea level.
Non-toxic dye added to Upper Cave Creek, the surface source for much of the water in the cave, took over two days to reach the accessible sections of the River Styx inside the cave.
Over 340 different species have been found in the cave. However, only one water mite and one caddisfly are known to live in the River Styx.
Fish have not been found in the cave. Water entering the cave generally passes through soils that would filter out any fish that might live in Upper Cave Creek as well as the organic matter that could provide food for any fish.