Did you know the Alabaster Caverns are a real place that you can visit today? The Caverns are part of a 200 acre State Park near Freedom, Oklahoma in the northwest part of the state. The Caverns are an important part of the setting for both The Black Alabaster Box and The Red Abalone Shell.
Below is a picture of the state park near Freedom, Oklahoma. You’d never know there were caves beneath! Part of the Alabaster Caverns collapsed to form a canyon, seen from above. Except for the buildings in the distance it may have looked very much like this when Grace Willis first saw it in Book 1 of The Last Crystal Trilogy and when the outlaw twins, Ruby and Junior, used it as a hideout in Book 2.
The photograph is by Joy Franklin, Expedition Oklahoma (OklahomaJoy@yahoo.com), used with her permission. See more pictures by following the link. Except for signs and trail markers, you might not find the entrance to the caverns, even today. Imagine how it must have looked to Grace and Mr. Nichols in 1856.
Alabaster caverns and crystal
Since ancient times, some people have thought that crystals have healing powers. They are also associated with physical energy, peace of mind, and seeing the future. But crystals are also very important in electronics, in fact, without crystals we would not have the many electronic devices we have today. You can read more about crystals by following the link.
Alabaster is a rare form of gypsum (or calcium sulfate). In many parts of the world you can see “gyp rock” sticking up out of the grass and dirt around it, as in the picture above. Gypsum rock is ordinary looking. White gypsum is almost chalky in texture. Alabaster is like the rich cousin of plain old gyp rock. It is much more fine-grained.(When I was a girl our water was heavy in minerals. When we had guests, we usually got water for them so they wouldn’t have to drink “gyp water.”)
Sometimes alabaster is confused with marble and onyx. Alabaster is the softest of the three. Marble is the hardest. Marble and onyx will both scratch alabaster.
The ancient Egyptians prized alabaster, using it for beautiful sculptures and containers. It has been quarried for many centuries in Italy, Egypt, and China. Black alabaster, like the carin and the box in The Alabaster Box, is extremely rare and is found only in Italy, China and The Alabaster Caverns.
If you are interested doing an online search for more information, I recommend the Wikipedia article. Almost every other website is about selling or religious properties of black alabaster. But your reference librarian may be of even more help.