Linville Caverns in McDowell County was discovered in 1822 by two fishermen. The cave is estimated to be over twenty million years old. Water dissolving the limestone and dolomite formed the natural passageways. In 1937, a local corporation bought the cave to develop it for tourism. The caverns opened in 1939 and were a huge success. A massive flood devastated the county in 1940, and the corporation sold out. Spencer and Mildred Collins bought the stock and took over management of cave. Linville Caverns, the state's only show cavern, is operated as a family business that has passed down through several generations.