Missouri State Archives Presentation Videos

[ Transcript for: Missouri Caves in History and Legend ]

Missouri Caves in History and Legend Video Transcript


ROBIN CARNAHAN: This is Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan. The following program is sponsored by Friends of the Missouri State Archives and the Missouri Secretary of State's office.

The State Archives hosts free monthly programs, like this one, at our office in Jefferson City. We're now offering these programs online as well, so that even more Missourians can learn about the rich history of our State.

We hope you enjoy this presentation and thank you for your support.



MR. H. DWIGHT WEAVER:† Good evening ladies and gentlemen.† Iíll see if we can get this mic set.

The hurricane is gone. The rain has stopped.† The weather is great.† And itís a good time to go out looking for caves and hiking the hills.† But itís also a good time to talk about caves too.† But before we do, I would like to thank Sandy for introducing me and Emily and all the staff and the Friends of the Missouri Archives for providing evening meetings, like this, where we -- you know, for the book lovers of Missouri.

I would like to thank CeCe over here from Downtown Book & Toy and the University of Missouri Press for having my book here this evening.

Mark Twain Cave

I was born in Southern Illinois.† By the time I started to school my folks had moved to Hannibal, Missouri, and we were to live there four or five years.† Thereís no way in the world that you can live in Hannibal and not learn about Mark Twain or get acquainted with the big cave south of town called Mark Twain Cave.

And in that valley which they call Cave Hollow where the cave is located thereís a very beautiful picnic ground.† Itís huge.† And the people of Hannibal have been using that as a -- well, almost like a city park for over 100 years.

So when we would have friends in from out of town, relatives and the like, we would take them out to Cave Hollow in the summertime for a picnic.† Of course, if they hadnít seen the cave, weíd take a tour of the cave.

As a consequence, I have been through that cave many times when I was a small child.† And one of the places I liked to hang around when we were having picnics out there is up at the entrance where all the tourists and visitors were coming and going because there was always lots of activity there.

And actually at one point during our stay at Hannibal or our time that we were there, my dad got permission to take me and some other children in to Mark Twain Cave, off the show cave trail back in the unlighted sections and explore.† He also got permission for us to go in the cave on the other side of the hill called Cameron Cave.

Dr. Bretz

So on this particular day in 1947, I was nine years old and I was standing out front of the cave entrance where all the activity was and some cars drove in and some people got out of the cars.† There was a whole bunch of young people and one elderly gentleman and they had -- they looked liked soldiers because they had on Army surplus clothing.† They had on helmets.† They had a light on their helmet.† They had carbide lights.† And they came up on the area where I was standing there on the concrete and talked among themselves.† And then they talked to this older guide who was standing out in front.† Then they took off across the parking lot in to the hills on the other side.

Well, that really, kind of made me curious because I knew there was a big cave over there.† So I asked the guide, I said, ďWho were those people?Ē† And he said, ďWell, thatís Dr. Bretz and heís got his students there -- here and theyíre going over there to explore and survey that cave.Ē

Well, the name Dr. Bretz didnít mean a thing to me at the age of nine.† But he didnít get the job done all in one trip.† They came back again and again for a number of weekends.

And the rumor went around Hannibal that this was a secret government project.† Now, you have to remember this was 1947.† The world -- the war was just over with.† And everybody had bomb shelter in their mind.† So nobody there really believed that he was out there just studying this cave.

It would be quite a few years before I would learn the truth.† And a little later on in the presentation youíll understand why I consider that particular moment that my path crossed with Dr. Bretz as a momentous event in my life.

Central Missouri

After living in Hannibal we moved to the central Missouri area here.† We lived in Ashland for several years and then we moved in to Jefferson City.† But living here put me very close to the cave areas in Boone County.

Now, when we lived in Ashland, I could bicycle out into the, whatís today, the Three Creeks Conservation Area.† And we could go over to the, whatís today, Rockbridge Memorial State Park.† And thatís a karst area, full of caves and springs and sinkholes.† And thatís where I cut my teeth learning to cave.

But I discovered -- and of course, back at that point in time this was just farmland and there -- you know, the local people out there that owned this property didnít think much of the caves.† They were even using the sinkholes for trash disposal.

And -- but still I was fascinated with these caves.† So I wanted to learn more.† After we moved in to Jefferson City, I got just a little older and got into my teens.† So I went to the school library to see if they had any books on caves.† There werenít any.

So I went downtown to the public library.† Not a thing.† I went over to the state library.† No books.† No information on the caves.† That was very frustrating.

And so then the summer I was 16, I sat down and I wrote a letter to every state that had a geological survey and I asked them for information on caves.

And just a few weeks later this material started coming in, this information.† Unfortunately, it was mostly about caves somewhere else.† And I wondered whatís happened.† Well, I wrote a letter to our Missouri Geological Survey and they were slow about getting an answer to me.† But after about a month, I got these sheets of paper with typed locations for about 100 caves in Missouri.

Missouri Speleological Society

I was just tickled pink because this was my guide post to all these areas in Missouri that had caves.† Well, I also, during that letter writing, made contact with a geologist out east.† And he had -- was involved with a brand new organization called the National Speleological Society.† And so he sent me information on that group.† But he also sent me an application for it because at that point in time to join the NSS, as we called it, you had to be recommended.† You had to have somebodyís signature whoís already a member.

Unfortunately, I wasnít old enough to join.† So I laid it aside.† But when I graduated from high school, I was old enough and thatís the first thing I did.† Well, this was 1956 and they sent me the names of six people and the addresses of six people here in Missouri that were in interested in caves and had recently joined the NSS.† And I discovered in contacting those people that three of those individuals had just established the Missouri Speleological Survey.† It wasnít even a month old. †And I was in on the ground floor.† And thatís what began my adventures, really in earnest, in the caves of Missouri.

Show Caves

Now, I imagine most of you have been in a cave at some point in your life.† If you travel the Ozarks youíre going to find lots of caves to visit, but you donít have to go any further than Lake of the Ozarks to find a cave to see because show caves have been part of the history of Lake of the Ozarks for 75 years.

Bagnell Dam had just been built.† And the lake had just filled when Jacobís Cave south of Versailles was open to the public.† And then in 1937 and 1938, a couple of men took lantern tours of Bunch Cave.† Now, if you cross -- when you go west of Camdenton and cross the Niangua Bridge look off to your right and youíll see a large cave opening.† That is Bunch Cave.† Today, it is surrounded with all kinds of development.

Then in 1947, River Cave and what is today Ha Ha Tonka State Park was opened up to the public.† Then in 1948, Bridal Cave was opened.† Then in the early 50s, we had Stark Caverns just south of Eldon.† And then Ozark Caverns east of Linn Creek.† And then in the 1960s, we had the Indian Burial Cave in the Osage Beach area.† We had Arrow Point Cave in the Brumley area.† Thatís quite a collection of caves and theyíre all different.† All of them were interesting.

But, today, thereís only three of those caves that are still being shown to the public.† Jacobís Cave and Bridal Cave are still opened and theyíre still privately owned.† All those caves started as private operations.† But then Ozark Caverns was later purchased by the Department of Natural Resources.† It is operated now by the Division of Parks.

So you can see from that, that show caves are not always successful.† And in order for a show cave to make it, there are certain ingredients that they need.† Number one, they have to be close to a major highway, because weíve learned that people just wonít drive very far off into the hills to see a show cave. †Then they need to be large and spectacular or very pretty or historic.† Those are the things that really interest people when they go to see a cave.† Then, of course, they need to be well promoted.† They need to be well financed.† And the guide staff needs to be knowledgeable and entertaining because those caves are in the entertainment field.

Thereís another category of show cave itís a little different.† Those are caves that are owned by a state or federal agency.† They are usually in the outdoor, interpretive field or educational field of activities.† And they are partially subsidized by tax dollars, so they donít have to survive on ticket sales and souvenir sales.

At one time or another, weíve had more than 50 caves in this state open and shown to the public as a show cave.† The fact that a sizable percentage of our traveling public likes to visit caves is born out by the fact that caves were among the very first natural geographic features of our state that were commercialized and promoted as tourist attractions.

The show cave industry in Missouri as we perceive it today, dates to the 1880s.† We have more show caves than any other state and theyíre widely known because of their beauty and their history.† A commercial cave is any cave that is used for some kind of commercial purpose.† But a show cave is one that is exhibited for its beauty or its history.

Commercial Caves

Now, quite literally there have been hundreds and hundreds of caves in Missouri that at one time or another they were used for some kind of a commercial purpose.† And thatís a utilitarian legacy, as I call it, that stretches all the way back to the 1830s when the German immigrants, the brewers, started opening and putting their breweries in caves in the St. Louis area.

You see Missouri caves are between 52 and 60 degrees in temperature year round.† The warmer caves are a little further south.† Up in this area and further north, they are a little cooler.† But whatever that caveís temperature is, itís going to maintain that same temperature within a few degrees all year long.† And thatís an ideal temperature for the making of alcoholic beverages, wine and beer, a good place to cool their beer and store it.† The -- in the St. Louis area we also had the cheese makers and the mushroom growers were using caves because of this even, cool temperature.

And other entrepreneurs would open up dance halls and theatres, all kinds of things, but you got to realize that weíre talking back now 1830s, 40s and 50s.† They didnít have electricity and they didnít have air conditioning.† So those caves were kind of a welcome respite.† In the winter they felt warm and in the summer they felt cool to you.

Ice Age History

The -- and Anheuser-Busch began in a cave as Lemp Brewery.† The story I tell in this book begins though with the Ice Age and it moves forward in time to the present day.† Now, I think most of you have probably read a little bit about that early history of Missouri and you realized that this Ice Age period or Pleistocene period began about two million years ago and it comes forward till about 10,000 years ago.

And during that time, we not only had a lot of ice across the northern half of Missouri, but we had quite a menagerie of animals that were living here in around the Jeff City area and clear on from the south.† Some of those animals were pretty large.

We had mastodons.† We had mammoths.† We had ground sloths that were 12 feet tall and weighed a ton.† We had beavers the size of bears.† But we also had some very large predators and they were using these caves as dens.

I donít know if youíre aware of the fact that we had jaguars, saber-toothed cats, American Lions.† We had Dire Wolves and the giant short-faced bear that were using these caves.

In the evidence that we have that we know they were there is because cavers find their footprints, their paw prints in the clay in caves.† We find their claw marks in the walls of the caves in the clay.† We find their feces.† We find the bears -- the beds where they wallowed.† And we sometimes find their bones.

Now, these animals -- these large predators would drag their prey into the cave and devour it and leave those bones in the cave.

A lot of these caves had pit openings.† Sinkhole openings at the surface and those acted as animal traps.† Animals would fall in not being able to climb out and they would die of injury - their injuries or of starvation and their bones become part of the repository underground.

Of course, streams flowing into the caves would bring sediments and bury some of those bones.

Today, caves are just about the only source that paleontologists have to find fossil bones like that, from that period of time.† And that helps them piece together the Ice Age history of our state.

So we need to protect our caves if for no other reason just for that, because we donít know what cave has these kinds of remains in them.† They can be very difficult to find sometimes.†

Early Paleo-Indian cultures used caves too.† They would go in the caves in the winter time when it was exceptionally cold.† And the summertime when it was exceptionally hot.† They would use the caves as a source of water during times of droughts.† They would use the clay in the cave for pottery and paints.† They would use the flint rock for stone tools and weapons.† They would go in search of epson salts and saltpeter, which can be found in some of the caves.† They would bury their dead in the caves.

We have a couple of caves, very close to us, right here in Jefferson City that have provided some really interesting information from that period of time.

Over here in Montgomery County is Graham Cave and Graham Cave State Park.† And at that cave archeologists found artifacts that enables them to date the use of that cave as a shelter back to 10,000 BC.† And in 1961 that cave became the first archeological site in the United States to be designated a national historic landmark.

Then if you go across the county line into Callaway County, youíre going to find Arnold Cave or Arnold Research Cave.† Itís similar to Graham Cave in its structure.† It also has a long history of Paleo-Indian use.† At that cave, archeologists discovered a stash of sandals and moccasins that are thousands of years old and they were in a perfect state of preservation.

We used to think that the Indians didnít go very far in our caves because -- largely because the archeologists found most of the burials and artifacts fairly close to the entrance.† But weíve since learned that some of these Indians went a long ways back in to the caves.

In Dade County thereís a gentleman who had a farm and about 20 years ago a sinkhole developed just about 300 feet from his house.† It kind of worried him.† So he went out and looked and there was an opening, a hole, a pit at the bottom of the sink.† And so some cavers came out of Springfield and dropped down into the pit and discovered a huge cave, beautiful cave and there were the signs that the Pleistocene animals, the Ice Age animals, but there was something far more significant.† There were the footprints of an Indian who had walked along through that cave leaving his footprints in the wet clay.† And along that trail is charcoal and remains of the torches that he used.† And on the walls of the cave are the stoke marks from where he rubbed the torch to reinvigorate the flame.† As far as we know, itís one of the only sites like that in the Midwest, another reason why when you go in a cave that youíre unfamiliar with, out there in the woods, you need to be careful where you put your feet.

Saltpeter Resource

When the American and European settlers came into our Ozarks in the late 1700s and early 1800s, there werenít any Wal Marts.† There werenít any Bass Pro.† They had to be self-sufficient.† And they had to make their own gunpowder.† The ingredient they used for that, back at that point in time, was saltpeter and they were familiar with the fact that saltpeter can be found in caves.† And so they went in search for caves for that particular mineral resource.

During that period of time from the late 1700s on up to about 1830, gunpowder manufacturing and saltpeter mining was a cottage industry in our Ozarks.† But then about 1840, steamboats began to come up the Missouri River and into the tributary streams, like the Osage.† And they brought a better quality of gunpowder from eastern sources.† And that kind of -- the backwoods guys couldnít compete and so they went out of business.

Civil War Uses

The Civil War gave us -- a little critter here.† The Civil War gave us -- our caves a different kind of distinction.† And some of the communities would gather together their family valuables and hide them in a cave to keep them away from guerilla raiders.† Or an individual landowner would do that with his cave.

Sometimes the Union and Confederate forces would use a cave entrance as a rendezvous point or a place to temporarily store ammunitions.

Of course, the caves were ideal for the guerilla raiders that prowled around through the Ozarks during that period of time.

Outlaw Heights

Following the war, our caves became hideouts for all kinds of disreputable characters during the reconstruction period.† And chief among the outlaws that gave us so much trouble in that period of Missouri history was Cole Younger and Jesse James.

Now, if you want to believe the old Ozark hillbillies and the legends down there you would think that Jesse James hid out in every cave in Missouri.† But Iíve done a lot of research on that and Iíve never been able to pin that down.† I have no documentation that he ever used any cave in this state.† So that still remains in the realm of folklore.

Spring Houses

In the days before we had electricity the people in the Ozarks would use our caves for spring houses, cool chambers.† They would wall up the entrance to a cave and put a doorway in it.† And then go inside and build a little dam across the spring to create a reservoir.† And the reason for that was that that cold spring water would keep that chamber, right close to the entrance, very cool.

Then they would build platforms and shelving.† You know, if you have meats you can dry or salt or smoke meat.† You can can and pickle and dry fruits and vegetables, but if you have milk, butter and eggs you got to keep them cool if you want to keep them for a little while.† So thatís where they would keep their milk and their butter and their eggs.


If the stream coming out of the cave or the spring on the property was of sufficient volume, theyíd dam it up and build a gristmill.† Our cave springs have run gristmills, sawmills, flourmills, woolen mills.† And those reservoirs of water made -- were good for leather tanning operations.† And they would use them for all kinds of domestic and livestock needs.


Sometimes they used caves in the Ozarks for barns.† There is a cave down in southwest Missouri thatís been used as a barn continuously for 125 years.† The cave entrance is so large you can put 100 head of cattle inside.† And they would, of course, use caves to house swine and sheep, other kinds of animals as well.

Thereís over 200 caves in the Ozarks that still bear evidence that theyíve been used for those kinds of purposes.† And the evidence consists of walled up entrances with doorways, pipes, troughs, dilapidated platforms and shelves, abandoned water tanks, abandoned hydraulic rams.

Guano Mining

One of the most destructive periods in Missouri cave history, though, was from the 1880s to the 1930s.† There were a number of things that happened during that period of time.† Some of our caves were mined for bat guano.† Now, that sounds pretty disgusting because bat guano is pretty smelly and nasty when itís fresh.† But these bats have been living in these caves and using the caves for millions of years.† And that guano builds up on the floor and unless itís being flushed by streams in the cave or if the bats have ceased using that particular cave that material dries out.† It becomes rather dusty.† And it doesnít have any odor.† But itís very high in nitrate.

And so during this period of time, the flower growers in St. Louis, Springfield, Kansas City and Chicago were interested in getting that to use a fertilizer additive.† So it was a very popular thing and some of the guys made pretty good money mining that guano out.

Onyx Mining

Another thing that was happening during this period of time is some of our caves were being mined for the onyx.† Iím sure in the gift shops youíve seen these onyx figurines and ashtrays and all kinds of things.† Itís a beautiful stone.† Itís banded and itís colorful.† But most of that is a form of travertine and it comes out of old Mexico.

But back at that point in time, in the 1880s to 1930s, there wasnít any good transportation between here and there.† No good rail lines and no good highways.† If you were an architect and you wanted onyx to use in your -- your building plans it cost you a fortune and you had to import that stuff from old Mexico.

And then somebody got the bright idea, well, why do all that?† Weíve got it right here in our caves.† That is the mineral calcite.† When water drips in the cave -- or it flows over the floor it deposits these formations.† It builds stalactites and stalagmites and flow stone and all kinds.† Itís banded.† Itís colorful.† Itís soft.† Itís workable.

So they went out into the caves and started trying to quarry this stone.† Then they discovered that the depositional history of this stone wasnít dependable.† It might have layers of glauconite or clay or sand or silt or other things mixed in with the good layers.† And when they would try to cut a big block it would just fracture the wrong way.† You could make nice small novelties out of it, but that wasnít very profitable.† So that industry folded up pretty quick.

Treasure Hunting

We have a lot of legends in the Ozarks that surround these caves supposedly with buried treasure.† They say that some of these legends say that our caves have veins of gold and silver and uranium ore in the walls.† And some of the legends involve Spanish treasure or French silver mines.† Iíve never been able to document that anybody has ever found any legendary buried treasure in a Missouri cave.† Now, Missouri cavers have located and explored more than 6,000 caves in this state.† Theyíve mapped a lot of them very meticulously.† And I donít know one caver thatís ever discovered any buried treasure.

Geologists tell us the bedrock is the wrong kind of rock, if thatís what youíre looking for.† Limestone just doesnít have gold and silver veins.† And archeologists have been digging up these Indian burials and artifacts in our caves for 100 years.† Theyíve never found any buried treasure.† So it kind of led me to conclude that this treasure hunting is a bit like antique collecting.† Itís the thrill of the hunt that motivates the seeker.† But the time -- time period of which most of that took place was the 1930s and the 1950s.

Now, during the Depression years it was motivated by the need for money, largely.† But there is a downside to that kind of activity in a cave.† A lot of that kind of hunting involves a lot of digging.† It involves a lot of blasting.† We have caves in the Ozarks that have been totally destroyed and collapsed by the activity of these individuals.

Party Caves

In the period just before we got rural electrification in the 1930s, in that same period 1880s to 1930, they were using a lot of caves in the Ozarks for party caves.† In the hot summer months, somebody would build a dance floor back inside of a cave.† They would put in table and chairs.† Whoever did this would usually provide the food and alcoholic beverage.† Theyíd print up a poster and theyíd circulate it and invite everybody from miles around to come party.† Now, some individuals would come and camp out for a week.† The party would never close down.† But it was very damaging to the caves, because they trampled the cave floors.

You know a cave has an eco system, a pyramid of life in it.† The bats are at the top. Thereís all kinds of little critters, each depending upon each other.† When you disrupt the floor of the cave youíre messing up their table.† This is how the nutrients get into the system.† These people would pollute the cave streams.† They would write graffiti all over the walls and the ceilings of the cave.

And they would take out the formations.† You know, it got popular to take home a piece of the cave because at that point in time people were mining this onyx.† It was in their -- in their mind.

The -- when rural electrification came in, they sort of forgot about the caves.† They didnít need them anymore.† They could drill a deep well for water.† And they had refrigerators, ice box refrigerators and things like that.† So they began to forget about these caves.† They didnít need them for the mineral resources.† So they were sort of abandoned out there in the hills.† And of course that damage still lingers.

But there was something else going on during that same period of time that wasnít noticed much.† Scientists were getting interested in the caves.† Among the very first were biologists because they had discovered that thereís little creatures in these caves; cave fish, crayfish, salamanders that are white, albino, and blind.† Now, some of these little creatures start out when theyíre born with eyes and they are blind by the time they reach adulthood.

Luella Agnes Owen

And the question was: How in the world did that happen?† Howíd these little creatures evolve?† And so they began to look at the caves, biologists did, and try to study that.† And then geologists got interested in caves.† And one of the very first was Luella Agnes Owen from St. Joe.

And in the late 1880s and early 1890s she started going down in the Ozarks and investigating caves.† But she had a theory of how they were formed.† Then she went to South Dakota and she looked at the caves out there.† When she got back, she wrote a book.† She compared the caves in the two states.† And her book was titled, Cave Regions of the Ozarks and Black Hills of South Dakota.† And that book was published in 1898.

But there was a problem for Luella.† You see at that point in time, women werenít accepted in the halls of geology.† It was a male-dominated chauvinistic kind of environment.† So she didnít get much credit and her book wasnít very widely circulated.

It would be 50 years before another book of some kind would be written about Missouri caves and when that happened it was Hazel Rowena Powell, a school teacher in southwest Missouri who wrote a little book.† Itís not very big.† And she described about 14 show caves.† She called her book, Underground Adventures in the Caves of Missouri.

And her family owned Fairy Cave in Kimberling City.† Now, itís called Talking Rocks.† Itís still a show cave.

Dr. Harlen Bretz Book

Then in the late 1940s Dr. J Harlen Bretz got interested in the caves.† He had a three-stage theory, geological theory, on how these caves formed.† And he thought Missouri was such a good place to go and study the caves and prove his theory.

His book, Caves of Missouri came out in 1956.† And unlike the other books -- now, Dr. Bretz was world renowned.† His book just caught the imagination of Missourians.† He wrote it in a laymanís language.† He described hundreds of caves.† And of course it was accepted widely by both the professional academic community as well as the public.

Missouri Speleological Survey

But there was -- it was -- it inspired three people in Missouri to establish the Missouri Speleological Survey.† And like I said, that word -- and like Sandy said, that word is hard to say.† A lot of people trip their tongue over it.† It comes from the word speleology, which means the science of caves.† So you kind of get an idea of what thatís all about.† And the MSS as we call it for short because nobody likes to say that word has been around now for 50 years.† And because of the dedication of those individuals we now have one of the largest cave databases of any state in America.

And thereís about -- thereís probably -- I think, thereís 12 or 13 or so affiliated groups around the state.† We call it a caving club.† That work with this organization on it.† And any given weekend of the year you could probably find two dozen of these people out there in the hills going quietly about their work, volunteer work, exploring and mapping these caves.

In 1962, the MSS honored Dr. Bretz.† He was getting quite up there in years.† He was already up in years when he started his research.† And it was at Hannibal, Missouri.

And I was at that event.† And I got to shake that manís hand and meet him.† And follow him through the cave on a geologic tour.† And I kind of thought that was ironic because I had crossed paths with this man when I was nine years old on that very same property, at that very same cave.

So this -- later on I would write -- I would begin my own interest in caves.† And it started at Mark Twain Cave.† And I wrote my first book about Mark Twain Cave.† A little bit of irony there in J Harlen Bretz.

You donít hear much -- well, excuse me.† Iíll back up here.† The success of the MSS led the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to give the organization the Resource Steward Award in the early 1980s.† And then in 1985, the MSS received national recognition.

You see in 1982, the administration of President Ronald Reagan established whatís called the Presidentís Volunteer Action Award.† And the program was to call public attention to volunteer work and to show what could be done, what could be accomplished through the work of volunteers.† And the award was given in 11 different categories; art, humanities, education, health.† The MSS won that award for their work in the environment and for getting the cavers together into a volunteer corps dedicated to the exploration and study of our caves.

Now, you donít hear much about the MSS and its discoveries.† There is a reason for that.† A lot of these cavers keep this very close to their chest because they feel that the only way now-a-days to protect our cave resources is just kind of keep quiet about them.

The -- as only 20 percent of the caves in Missouri are on public land.† And even some of those caves are in danger.† All the rest are on private property.† And for that reason cave locations in Missouri are considered proprietary information.† These landowners donít want the caves on their property advertised.† Theyíre not in the show cave business.† If they did they would be inundated with strangers coming to their door wanting to investigate the caves.† The caves would be vandalized and probably would be damaged.† And it raises huge liability issues for them, and so the cavers just work quietly with the landowners so they can continue to do all this research.

Cave Regions

There is one aspect of the book here, Missouri Caves in History and Legend that makes it a little different from the Missouri Heritage Readers Series.† When I was writing the book, I realized that quite a few readers, particularly young readers, would be disappointed if there wasnít any information in that book about the caves where they live.† And so I divided the state into 12 cave regions, just arbitrarily.† And then I described -- gave a brief overview of what the caves are like in each one of those regions.† And then I list all the counties in Missouri that have caves.† And give the current number of recorded caves in each one of those counties.

Now, some counties have a lot of caves.† Some have very few.† We have one county in Missouri that has over 600 recorded caves.† And they come in all sizes, shapes and variety.† Youíre going to discover whenever you get in to reading this book and learn about these regions that -- that Jeff City sits on the boundary between two regions.

What I call the Daniel Boone Cave Region is on the other side of the river.† Callaway County is in that region.† And Callaway County has 17 recorded caves at the present time.† Cole County is in the Osage River Cave Region and it has 21 recorded caves at the present time.† Theyíre all small caves.† But just like Graham Cave and Arnold Research Cave, it doesnít make any difference what the size of the cave is.† That has nothing to do with the caveís value.† Some of our smallest caves are our most important caves.

Now, Iím going to continue the program with a series of slides that illustrate a lot of what Iíve been talking about.

Maybe we can see this.† The book has 17 chapters.† Each one of those chapters is themed after a particular use that people have made of our caves.† And these particular uses are those that are the most common.† I could have chosen any number of themes, but I didnít.

Pleistocene Bone

Now, this gentleman sitting on the tailgate here of his pick-up truck is Matt Foyer.† Heís a paleontologist.† And that bone that heís holding there is a Pleistocene bone.† Youíll notice that there is more laying there on the tailgate.† Those are bones that he found in a cave.† And I can guarantee when you find bones like that in a cave, itís exciting.

Bear Bed

This happens to be -- I told her I wouldnít -- I told this young lady I wouldnít identify her, but this is my daughter when she was about six years old.† I wonít tell you how old she is now.† But sheís looking at a bear bed in a cave.† This is Ozark Caverns.† Sheís about six years old there.

But bear beds are one of the most common features that we have in our caves.† Itís where these bears would hibernate for the winter and where they would wallow out.† Theyíre all throughout our caves.† And you can go through quite a few show caves and theyíll point these bear beds out.† And this one, of course, has the interesting sign, ďSmoky Bear Slept ThereĒ.

Not all the bones that we bring up out of the caves are Ice Age vintage.† These are the bear bones that -- of a black bear.† Itís a complete set.† I think the focus is a little off, but -- can you focus it back there any?

Anyway if you look up at the top of the picture youíll see a little sign there and itís pointing toward a spear point.† These bones are believed to be about 800 years old.† And this bear was wounded probably by an Indian and then he crawled into a cave and died.

Short-Faced Bear

This was probably the most vicious and dangerous bear that we had living in Missouri back during the Pleistocene or Ice Age.† This was the short-faced bear.† And one paleontologist who has studied this species distinctly -- quite a bit calls this animal a killing machine that would make a modern day grizzly look like a sissy.† This bear when he stood on all fours was 6 feet high at the shoulders.† It weighed about 1400 pounds.† And this bear could run fast enough to catch a horse.

I donít think that you and I could coexist with an animal like that if they were running loose in the Ozarks today.

Now, these cavers are looking at scratch marks left by one of these bears in the clay wall in the cave.† And Iím going to go in for a little closer look at it.† Those gouge marks theyíre wider than your hand.† Theyíre very deep in the clay.† Now, some of these clay marks and paw prints that we have in caves are 30, 40, 50 thousand years old and yet theyíre still there.

American Lion and Saber Tooth Cat

These -- this is the paw print of the American Lion.† That print is 7.5 inches in diameter.† This was a large animal.† And when he was walking in the clay he left some pretty deep imprints.† And there is a cave down in the Ozarks close to the Arkansas border on the Missouri side that has lots of these prints.

This is cougar track from a Missouri cave.† And these prints are believed to be either those of a jaguar or a saber tooth cat.† And these are in a cave in Perry County.

Now, what happens is that these tracks tend to harden over time.† Theyíre not so hard that you couldnít destroy them if you stepped on them.† So when you go in a cave you want to be careful where you put your feet.† Particularly, if itís a cave that people havenít been in before.

Illinois State Museum Research and Collection Center

A good many of the bones and remains that we find in Missouri caves wind up of all places in the Illinois State Museum Research and Collections Center because theyíre one facility that has the kind of facilities to store and keep these things, climate controlled facilities.† They have the labs to process the remains.† And they have many ongoing projects that relate to Missouri caves.

The gentleman standing here in the picture is Dr. Russell Graham.† And he was in charge of that facility at that time.† Thatís the part where they do the laboratory work and all.† Heís got, like, 30 years of experience bringing bones up out of Missouri caves and other Ice Age animal sites.

The cabinets in front of him there -- thereís a row of them there and I only show a part of them.† If you open one of those doors and they are drawers.† And those drawers are full of bones, the smaller bones.† And I asked Dr. Graham, I said, ďWould you show me the trays that have the very first bones that came out of the Missouri caves by Missouri cavers?Ē† And this is the drawer that he opened.

These came out of a cave in the -- Missouri caves in the 1950s and theyíre still in good shape. †Now, behind Dr. Graham there, where he was standing were shelves that hold larger bones like the one that Matt Foyer was holding or the skulls of Mastodon and ground sloths.

Stark Caverns

Back in 1967 at Stark Caverns south of Eldon, there were a couple of teenage boys that were guiding there that summer.† And just back inside the cave a little ways was a fence with a gate.† And thatís where the tourists would gather up waiting for the guide to start the tour.† One of the fence posts at the gate had rotted off at the base.† And so Harvey Fry, who was the owner of the cave said, when they had a lull in business said, ďGo back there and dig that post up and replace it.Ē† And in digging that post up they discovered this burial.

Now, one of those boys was Kent Beeler.† Kent was 14 years old at that time.† And he got so excited about this.† So turned on that he stayed with the excavation -- there were four burials that were brought up.† Of course, he had professional supervision, but he got to excavate all four of those burials.† Kent went on to college and became a professional anthropologist.† Today, he lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Mountain Room

Thereís a large cave in Camden County that if you go in by the natural entrance you have to go in by boat.† It does have an artificial entrance today in remote areas where theyíre doing research.† Now, this cave is quite large.† It has over 12 miles of surveyed passage at the present time.† And it has a couple of different levels.† There is more than one river system in it.

When you go back in the cave in your boat you eventually wind up in this room here we call the Mountain Room.† And youíre only seeing a small part of it in this picture.† Now, this was a cave I started working in 1957 --

(Tape One, Side A concluded.)

MR. H. DWIGHT WEAVER:† -- with the cavers.† And it was many years of using this room as a base camp before somebody discovered there was an Indian skull in that room.† It was broken and down in the clay.

So that site was excavated and the skull was brought out and cleaned up and reconstructed.† And I took this picture after it was put back together.

There were no other remains of this individual in the cave.† We have no idea how he got in the cave, what he was doing in the cave or how long ago this happened.† There are many mysteries around these caves and some of them weíll probably never have the answers to.

Graham Cave

I mentioned Graham Cave in Graham Cave State Park.† This is the entrance.† Itís a beautiful entrance.† It has a 200 foot span.† There are no internal chambers.† Itís just one big room back in there thatís mostly filled with sediments.† But it was in the sediments that the archeologists discovered the artifacts that let them trace this back -- use of this cave back to 10,000 B.C.

I mentioned Arnold Research Cave in Callaway County.† You can see thereís some similarity to the entrances.† There are some internal chambers in this cave that you can crawl around in.† And it was in one of those chambers that they found the -- the sandals and the moccasins that are thousands of years old.† It was in perfect state of preservation.

Rocheport Cave

This is the entrance to Rocheport Cave in Boone County over near Boonville along the Missouri River.† And at the beginning of the 19 -- the 1800s, this was a very important saltpeter and gunpowder manufacturing site.† People coming up to the Boonville area and going further west would stop here to replenish their supplies of gunpowder.† This picture, however, was taken in the 1960s when the cave was briefly commercial.† And it was shown as Boone Cave.† Itís no longer open to the public.† And itís now used -- itís closed to protect an endangered colony of bats.

Indian Cave

This is the entrance to Indian Cave near Waynesville.† And itís a double entrance cave.† Itís a pretty good size cave system.† But this cave was another one of those really important saltpeter mines and gunpowder manufacturing sites.

Saltpeter Mining

This is the only slide in the series thatís not from a Missouri cave.† But I include this because I want to tell you a little bit more about the saltpeter mining.† This picture happens to be from a Tennessee cave where they did a lot of that same thing.

But they would build these vats in this style.† They would fill the vat about three-quarters full of cave soil and then run or pour water on top.† That would lead -- that would percolate down through that soil and leach nitrates from the soil and would end up in that kettle.† And when the kettle was full theyíd take it over and put it on a roaring fire and boil away the water.

Now, what they would have left in the bottom of the kettle are little, white, needle-like crystals of pure saltpeter.† Then they would take that -- and its potassium nitrate, they would take that and combine it with charcoal and sulfur and grind it up and produce a very crude form of gunpowder.

And I can tell you it was a very hazardous occupation.† There were quite a few of these places that blew up and killed the people doing it.

We donít have any of those left in Missouri because after the saltpeter mining industry ended those vats set there unused and the settlers came in and they used them for other things.† A lot of times they would just take the wood out to build them a hog house or something or burn it.† Some of the archeological collections do have fragments from the old vats that were once in Missouri caves.

St. Louis Breweries

I talked about breweries in St. Louis.† They didnít use the cave passages just as they are.† They bricked them up in this fashion to create chambers where they could control the environment.† But above this chamber, what you donít see is there are other chambers where in the wintertime they would put ice that they cut from the ponds and the rivers and that they would store it up there and they can keep these rooms down to a temperature of 35 degrees year round.

This is all thatís left of the old Cliff Cave Winery in St. Louis County.† I mentioned Lemp Brewery, the beginning of Anheuser-Busch.† That cave was later commercialized.† In the 50s it was called Cherokee Cave.† But in the 60s, along came the highway department and decided they wanted to put an interchange there.† They were doing some highway work.† So they took away the building and they destroyed portions of the cave, but there are still passageways there beneath -- some passageways beneath the city streets.† And the passageways are still there beneath the buildings of Anheuser-Busch.† And Iíve had a chance, in my background, to visit some of those chambers.

Probably one of the most famous breweries in St. Louis was the old Uhrigís Cave Brewery and later it became a coliseum after it ceased being a brewery.† At many gala events in the early history of St. Louis were held in that cave.† Today, the building and the cave are gone.

Youngerís Cave

This is the entrance to Youngerís Cave in St. Clair County in a bluff along the Osage River and itís near Monegaw Springs.† When Cole Younger was causing all of his troubles, he had a lot of family and friends living in the Monegaw Springs area.† It was a very remote area at that point in time.† And they say that he used to hang out at this particular cave close to the community there.

Counterfeiters Cave

Where Ha Ha Tonka is today thereís a big cave.† Itís called Counterfeiters.† In the 1830s before Camden County was organized, a band of counterfeiters used this cave.† They didnít circulate the money here in Missouri.† They sent it down the Osage, the Missouri, the Mississippi and then up the Ohio to circulate it in the east.† Pretty clever.

Jolly Cave

Not all the bad characters in Missouri are from those earlier years.† This is the entrance to Jolly Cave in southwest Missouri.† And this cave was used in the 1920s for meetings of the Ku Klux Klan.

Civil War Cave

We used to have a cave south of Springfield in the Ozark area called Civil War.† The folklore says the cave was used as a munitions spot during the Civil War.

Bockman Spring Cave

And I told you how they used to rock up the caves and use them for spring houses.† This is in Oregon County, Bockman Spring Cave and the water still comes out of that, that little pipe there.

Tator Cave

This is Tator Cave in southwest Missouri or more toward the western edge of the state.† And it was used to store potatoes.

Mushroom Cave

This is Mushroom Cave in Meramec State Park.† During the 1920s, it was a commercial mushroom operation.† But then the park was created in 1928.† And of course, when the state took over the mushroom mine or mushroom farm closed down.† But a few years later Drubler (ph.) who was the superintendent at that time was examining the beds when this particular picture was taken.

Party Caves

This is a picnic poster.† I talked about the caves being used for parties.† Itís dated 1895.† This particular poster was circulated up and down the Frisco Railroad between Springfield and St. Louis to attract people to this particular cave, Saltpeter.† But then in 1933, Lester B. Dill commercialized that cave and called it Meramec Caverns.† I bet some of you have been there.

Well, believe it or not the ballroom where all those dances took place from about 1890 to 1915 is still being used.† And here is a gospel singing festival being held in that chamber in the 1960s.† The main chamber with its two additional rooms on either side will seat about 3,000 people.

This is one of the larger caves in Meramec State Park.† Itís a pretty cave.† Itís called Fisher.† And it was a party cave too back at the turn of the century.

Now, what we see here is a picture taken about 1928 are some people standing near the remains of the last dance floor that was built in the cave.

This dance floor is not quite that old.† It was built in the 40s during World War II at Indian Cave near Waynesville.† And I had a chance to visit this site in the early 60s when the dance floor was still being used.† There was tavern outside that was still in business, too.

Onyx Mining

This is a chunk of onyx about half the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.† As you can see by the internal structure it wouldnít have been very good to try to quarry that and make some kind of a slab or block of onyx out of it.† At that same site, there is some other onyx lying there.† Here you can see the drill holes.† But a lot of this debris was just left around these caves.

The onyx miners would go out into the hills to a cave that had formations and they would just cut a chunk out of a pretty formation and take it off to St. Louis to the finishing plant to see what quality it was.† And usually it wasnít good enough to use.† And so we have scars like this in some very pretty formations in our caves.

The rock pick there has absolutely nothing to do with the onyx mining.† I sit -- thatís a rock pick and I set it there when I took the picture in 1957.† But you can see that somebody has added insult to injury here and theyíve put some graffiti on it.

I told you about how people would take formations out of the cave for souvenirs.† Here they took an entire stalagmite out and turned it into a tombstone.† And you can see this, to this day, in a Rolla, Missouri cemetery.

Marvel Cave

I bet all of you have been to Silver Dollar City.† Thereís a big cave beneath it called Marvel.† This is the entrance room.† And that tower is where you climb down when you start your tour.† But originally, all that debris thatís piled up there was dirt that fell into that sinkhole entrance for hundreds of year to build up that pile.† But in the 1880s, bat guano was on top of that mound to a depth of 25 feet.† It was mined out in the 1880s.

Guano Mining

This is Gentry Cave in -- near Galena.† This was a guano mine.† You can see the -- it has a -- it has more than one entrance.† It has quite a network of passageways.† The men who did the mining are shown here.† And those are bags of guano.† And the gentleman in the middle, Mr. Weeks, is the owner of the cave or was and the head of the operation.

They laughed at him whenever he started doing it.† A logger told him, ďWell, you know, youíre not going to make any money.Ē† The first load he took -- this was in the Depression.† The first load he took he made $500.† That was a lot of money in Depression days.

Treasure Hunters

Treasure hunters can take heart.† We used to have a cave called Old Spanish Cave in the Reed Springs area. †Thereís a treasure legend around this cave and supposedly it was found during a search for buried treasure.

When you go inside you can kind of get an idea of why those geologically untrained treasure hunters thought they had found an old Spanish mine.† The cave is formed along joints.† And there are some really interesting walls in there that look artificial but they are natural.

This gentleman about the year 1900 was living in a cave.

Quite a few of our caves have had restaurants, eating places inside.† This picture from the 50s shows a dining room in Truittís Cave in McDonald County.† The best example of that, today, is Caveman Barbeque at Richland.

There are quite a few caves in McDonald County that are fairly close to the roads.† And hereís one where they put a building in front for a service station or a filling station and they had an underground restaurant, too.

Luella Owen

I mentioned Luella Owen and this is her likeness.† It appeared in an issue of one of our caver publications of Missouri Speleology.† And in the 1990s, I had a chance to visit her gravesite.† Sheís buried in the Owen Mausoleum in St. Joe, Missouri.

Hazel Rowena Powell

And this is a little book that Hazel Rowena Powell wrote.† And this is the Bretz book.† Not quite as colorful.† But if youíve got a copy of that book hang on to it.† The book has gotten scarce and itís gotten expensive.

Dr. Bretz

This is not a very good picture of Dr. Bretz, but heís giving that geology tour in Mark Twain Cave and right behind him in the dark shirt is me.† And I want to call out or point out one more person there.† Just to the right of where Iím standing is a short fellow with glasses thatís Tex Yokum.† Iíll mention him again in a moment.† You know back then he couldnít get us off his tail.

Missouri Speleological Survey

I said three men put together the MSS and here they are.† The one on the left is Frank Dahlgren.† Heís from St. Louis.† And he was a machinist.† And heís now deceased.† In the center is Dr. Oscar Hawksley, a biologist.† Heís retired living at Warrensburg.† On the right is Jerry Vineyard.† Heís a geologist and heís retired and living in the Springfield, Ozark area.

It just so happened that when the MSS won the award, the national award, I was president.† And they flew me and Tex Yokum who was the senior member of our Board of Directors out to Washington D.C. and entertained us for three days along with all the other award winners.

We got a tour of Washington.† We spoke with Senators and Congressmen and their wives.† We had a good time.

And then we had this ceremony in the east room of the White House.† And you know all those years that I spent crawling around in these caves never in my wildest dreams and imagination did I think that there would come a day when I would be standing in the east room of the White House shaking the presidentís hand, and saying, ďIn behalf of the MSS and the cavers of Missouri, Thank you, Mr. President.Ē

Well, thank you for coming.


MS. ROBIN CARNAHAN: Hi, this is Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, again, I hope that you enjoyed our program. For more information about Friends of the Archives or to find out more about other online programs and upcoming presentations, please visit our website at www.sos.mo.gov.