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Title: Cave Regions of the Ozarks and Black Hills
Author: Owen, Luella Agnes, 1852-1932
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cave Regions of the Ozarks and Black Hills" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.





Membre titulaire de la Société de Spéléologie, and
Fellow of the American Geographical Society.

[Illustration: Entrance To Marble Cave. Page 25.]

The Editor Publishing Co.


The illustrations for this volume are from photographs by the following

The Views of Marble Cave, by Stone & De Groff, Warrensburg, Missouri.

The Tower of Babel, The Chimes, The Knife Blade, The Needle, The Bridal
Veil, by Meddaugh, of Leadville, So. Dakota.

Top of Glacier, by L.W. Marble, Wind Cave, So. Dakota.

White Onyx Masses, Fairies' Palace, by J.W. Pike, Hot Springs, So.

The Wilderness Pinery, by D. Benton Miller, Alton, Missouri.

Approaching Deadwood, by H.R. Locke & Co., Deadwood, So. Dakota.

The Editor Publishing Company.



CHAPTER.                              PAGE.

   I A General View                    1

  II Marble Cave                      25

 III Marble Cave Continued            43

  IV Fairy Cave and Powell Cave       58

   V Other Stone County Caves         73

  VI Oregon County Caves              82

 VII The Grand Gulf                   95

VIII The Black Hills and Bad Lands   103

  IX Wind Cave                       113

   X Wind Cave Continued             127

  XI   "    "       "                141

 XII   "    "   Concluded            151

XIII The Onyx Caves                  162

 XIV Crystal Cave                    175

  XV    "     "   Concluded          183

 XVI Conclusion                      211

Cave Regions of




    "O'er mountains bright with snow and light,
    We crystal hunters speed along,
    While grots, and caves, and icy waves,
    Each instant echo to our song;
    And when we meet with stores of gems
    We grudge not kings their diadems."
                        --_Thomas Moore._

The southern half of the State of Missouri, and the Black Hills of South
Dakota, offer exceptionally delightful regions for the study of caves,
or Speleology as it has been named, and the sister sciences of geology
and geography at the same time. In fact it is impossible to study either
without giving attention to the other two, and therefore, instead of
being separate sciences, they are the three branches of a great
scientific trinity.

The regions here referred to enjoy the advantage, and at the same time
suffer the disadvantage, of being comparatively little known to the ever
restless tide of tourists who naturally hail with pleasure the
announcement that some easily accessible, and thoroughly charming spot,
has escaped their attention altogether, with a marvelous store of
attractions which are both extremely old and wholly new.

Each of these regions has a peculiar geological history not repeated in
any other portions of the earth's surface: each is blessed with its own
peculiar style of beautiful scenery: and each vies with the other and
all the world besides for the supremacy of its truly wonderful caves.
Yet it should be well understood that the claims are not based on an
unworthy spirit of rivalry, nor any desire to deny the greatness and
beauty of already famous members of the Cave family. It is simply an
announcement that the family is much larger than has been generally
supposed, and the more recently presented members worthy of the full
measure of distinguished honors.

The geological authorities of both states have for many years mentioned
the beauty and importance of these regions, and urged their claims to
public attention, but have been prevented, by the pressure of other
duties, from giving to the caves such careful study and full reports as
they deserve, as it would have been a pleasure to give, and as has been
possible in states of less extent where the general work of the
department is more advanced, and the volume of tourist travel created an
early demand for scientific explanation.

Without any great difficulty we can understand the process of cave
excavation by the action of percolating acidulated water on the
limestone, and its subsequent removal as the volume of surface drainage
diverted to the new channel gradually increased. But it is not so easy
to offer a reason for the varied forms with which the caves are
afterwards decorated. Why is it the charmed waters do not leave the
evidence of their slow passage only in plain surfaces of varying widths,
and the stalactites and stalagmites whose formation we can readily
account for? And why do not the deposits take the same forms in all
caves with only such variations as would naturally result from
differences in topography? The law is written, but in unfamiliar
characters that render our reading slow and uncertain. Yet it is
conspicuously noticeable that those caves showing the most delicately
fragile and wonderfully varied forms of decoration are those traversed
by the most sweeping and changeable, or even reversible, currents of
air; which might lead to the conclusion that the moisture is sprayed or
converted into a light, misty vapor, and then deposited in exactly the
same manner as the beautiful frost-work at Niagara: the direction and
force of the current determining the location of the frail deposits.

Since the largest and most important caves occur in limestone, a little
special attention to the cause of their occurrence there may serve to
show that although speleology has only recently received its name and
been elevated to the rank of a separate and independent science, it is
one of the earth's ancient institutions.

Our geologists, who have unearthed many secrets not dreamed of even in
Humboldt's "good phylosopy," have settled the question of how the
different kinds of caves were formed, according to the character of
rocks they are in, or their location and depth, and the natural agencies
to whose action they show signs of having been subjected.

Dr. H.C. Hovey, in his "Celebrated American Caverns," says: "In visiting
caves of large extent, one is at first inclined to regard the long
halls, huge rifts, deep pits and lofty domes, as evidences of great
convulsions of nature, whereby the earth has been violently rent
asunder. But, while mechanical forces have had their share in the work,
as has been shown, the main agent in every case has been the
comparatively gentle, invisible gas known as carbonic acid. This is
generated by the decay of animal and vegetable substances, and is to a
considerable degree soluble in water. Under ordinary circumstances one
measure of water will absorb one measure of carbonic acid; and the eye
will detect no difference in its appearance. Under pressure the power of
absorption is rapidly increased, until the water thus surcharged has an
acid taste, and effervesces on flowing from the earth, as in Saratoga

"Rain-water, falling amid leaves and grass, and sinking into the soil,
absorbs large quantities of carbonic acid. On reaching the underlying
limestone, the latter is instantly attacked by the acidulated water in
which it is dissolved and carried away.

"It is agreed among geologists, amazing as the statement may seem, that
the immense caverns of Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, including Mammoth
Cave itself (the largest of all), were eaten out of the solid mass of
limestone by the slow, patient, but irresistible action of acidulated

Professor N.S. Shaler says: "The existence of deep caverns is a sign
that the region has long been above the sea."

Through the kindness of Professor C.J. Norwood, Chief Inspector and
Curator of the Geological Department of Kentucky, it is possible to
quote the first official report made on the caves of that state and
published in 1856, in Volume I., Kentucky Geological Survey Reports.
Dr. Norwood says: "Referring to the 'Subcarboniferous Limestone' (now
known as the St. Louis group of the Mississippian series), Dr. Owen
says: 'The southern belt of this formation is wonderfully cavernous,
especially in its upper beds, which being more argillaceous, and
impregnated with earths and alkalies, are disposed to produce salts,
which oozing through the pores of the stone effloresce on its surface,
and thus tend to disintegrate and scale off, independent of the solvent
effects of the carbonated water. Beneath overhanging ledges of
limestone, quantities of fine earthy rubbish can be seen, weathered off
from such causes. In these I have detected sulphate of lime, sulphate of
magnesia, nitrate of lime, and occasionally sulphate of soda. The
tendency which some calcareous rocks have to produce nitrate of lime is,
probably, one of the greatest causes of disintegration.'"

"Most extensive subterranean areas thus have been excavated or
undermined in Edmonson, Hart, Grayson, Butler, Logan, Todd, Christian
and Trig. In the vicinity of Green River, in the first of these
counties, the known avenues of the Mammoth Cave amount to two hundred
and twenty-three, the united length of the whole being estimated, by
those best acquainted with the Cave, at one hundred and fifty miles; say
that the average width and height of these passages amount to seven
yards each way, which is perhaps near the truth; this would give upwards
of twelve million cubic yards of cavernous space which has been
excavated through the agency of calcareous waters and atmospheric

Page 169: "On the south side of Green River the platform of limestone
forming the descent into Mammoth Cave is two hundred and thirty-two feet
above Green River."

"The entrance to the cave, being thirty-eight feet lower than this bed
of limestone, is one hundred and ninety-four feet above Green River. In
the above two hundred and thirty-two feet there are several heavy masses
of sandstone, viz.: at one hundred and twenty-five, one hundred and
forty-five, one hundred and fifty, one hundred and sixty and two hundred
and fifteen feet, but it is probable that most of these have tumbled
from higher positions in the hill, as no alterations of sandstone have
been observed at these levels in the cave. From an elevation of from two
hundred and forty to two hundred and fifty feet, the prevalent rock is
sandstone without pebbles, which can be seen extending up to three
hundred and twelve feet to the foundation of the Cave Hotel. The united
thickness of the limestone beds on this part of Green River, is about
two hundred and thirty feet, capped with eighty feet of sandstone.
About midway of the section on this part of Green River, are limestones
of an obscure oolitic structure, but no true oolite was observed. Many
of these limestones are of such composition as to be acted on freely by
the elements of the atmosphere, which, in the form of nitric acid,
combine with the earthy and alkaline bases of calcareous rock, and give
rise to the formation of nitrates with the liberation of carbonic acid;
hence the disintegrated rubbish of the caves yields nitrate of potash
after being treated with the ley of ashes and subsequent evaporation of
the saline lixivium. The wonderfully cavernous character of the
subcarboniferous limestones of the Green River valley, and, indeed, of
these particular members of the subcarboniferous group throughout a
great part of its range in Kentucky and Indiana, is due in a great
measure to this cause, together with the solvent and eroding effects of
water charged with carbonic acid. The 'rock-houses' frequently
encountered both in this formation and in the limestones of Silurian
date, are produced by similar causes; the more easily disintegrated beds
gradually crumbling away, while the more durable remain in overhanging
ledges. By the oxidation of other elements, sulphates of oxide of iron
and alkalies result, which, by double decomposition, with carbonate of
lime, give rise to the formation of gypsums which appears in the form of
rosettes, festoons and various other imitative forms on the walls and
ceilings of the caves. Crystallizations of sulphate of soda and sulphate
of magnesia are not uncommon, both in some of the caves and in sheltered
situations under shelving rocks."

The explanations thus given of the excavation and subsequent refilling
and decoration of the limestone caves of Kentucky and Indiana apply
equally well to those of other states; but it is to be remembered that
at the time of Dr. Owen's report, onyx, the most beautiful and valuable
of dripstones, had not yet been discovered in the United States; while
now especially fine deposits are known in California, Utah, Missouri,
South Dakota and Arkansas; the Missouri supply being exceptionally
valuable on account of the marvelous delicacy and beauty of its
coloring; nor can it soon be exhausted, as deposits have been found in
eight counties and further exploration will no doubt discover more.

Concerning the Subcarboniferous, or Mississippian Series in Part I.,
Vol. IV., Missouri Geological Survey, Dr. C.R. Keyes says: "In the great
interior basin of the Mississippi the basal series is exposed more or
less continuously over broad areas, extending from northern Iowa to
Alabama, and from Ohio to Mexico."

While this broadly extended series of limestone is honey-combed in many
places and all directions by wonderful caverns, those of the Ozark
regions in Missouri, although comparatively little known, are well worth
knowing, and are possibly the most ancient limestone caves in the world.
Of the region in which they occur, Dr. Keyes, in the volume last quoted,
says: "The chief typographical feature of the state has long been known
in the Ozark uplift, a broad plateau with gentle quaquaversal slopes
rising to a height of more than one thousand five hundred feet above
mean tide, and extending almost entirely across the southern part of the
district. On all sides the borders of this highland area are deeply
grooved by numberless streams flowing in narrow gorges. Against its
nucleus of very ancient granites and porphyries the Ozark series of
magnesian limestone was laid down. Then the area occupied by these rocks
was elevated, and around its margins were deposited successively the
other members of the Paleozoic. The Ozark region was thus the first land
to appear within the borders of the present state of Missouri." He
further says: "Although it has long been known that the Magnesian
Limestones are older than the Trenton, and that they lie immediately
upon and against the Archæan crystallines unconformably, their exact
geological age has always remained unsettled. There seems to be but
little doubt, however, that part of the series is equivalent to the
Calciferous of other regions. It is also pretty well determined that
certain of the lower beds, all below the 'Saccharoidal' Sandstone
perhaps, are representatives of the Upper Cambrian or Potsdam. These
conclusions appear well grounded both upon stratigraphical and faunal
evidence. The rocks of the Ozark region have not as yet received the
necessary detailed study to enable the several lines of demarkation to
be drawn with certainty. This investigation is now being carried on as
rapidly as possible, and promises very satisfactory and interesting
results in the near future."

"The early geological reports represent the Magnesian Limestone series
as made up of seven members. Following Swallow, these may be briefly
described in the present connection. Beginning at the top, they are:

First Magnesian Limestone.
First, or Saccharoidal Sandstone.
Second Magnesian Limestone.
Second Sandstone.
Third Magnesian Limestone.
Third Sandstone.
Fourth Limestone."

"The Fourth" Magnesian Limestone, or lowest number of the Ozark series
recognized, has its typical exposures along the Niangua and Osage rivers
in Morgan and Camden counties.

Professor Swallow, in his Missouri Geological Survey Reports I. and II.,
1853 and 1854, says: "Caves, natural bridges and subterranean streams
occur in the valley of the Osage and its tributaries." The same
authority of forty years ago also mentions that "Some of the grandest
scenery in the State is produced by the high castellated and mural
bluffs of this (Third Magnesian Limestone) Formation, on the Niangua and
the Osage." Another reference to the scenery on these rivers describes
it as "Wild and grand, beautiful and unique;" with "gaudy-colored
bluffs." In the section on building materials he remarks: "One of the
most desirable of the Missouri marbles is in the Third Magnesian
Limestone on the Niangua. It is fine-grained, crystalline,
silico-magnesian limestone of a light drab, slightly tinged with
peach-blossom, and beautifully clouded with the same hue or flesh color.
It is twenty feet thick and crops out in the bluffs. This marble is
rarely surpassed in the qualities which fit it for ornamental

The Ozarks in the extreme southern portion of the state are even less
known to the world, but the scenery is grand, the climate delightful,
and the caves worthy of a visit for themselves alone. The State of
Missouri being one third larger than England, and of equal size to
Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark combined, it is not surprising
that interesting discoveries are still to be expected.

The climate is so varied on account of the range in latitude and
altitude, and the natural resources are so great, the claim has been
made that if the State were surrounded by an impassable wall, its
citizens need not be deprived of any article necessary to a refined and
luxurious mode of living: and according to Mr. Henry Gannett in "The
Building of a Nation," the population in 1890 was 73.42 per cent. native
whites of native parents, the colored a little less than 6 per cent.,
and nearly two-thirds of the balance, native born of parents, one or
both of whom were foreign.

Although the Ozark region has not yet received sufficient attention to
dull its charm for the explorer, the fact has been established that its
earliest sedimentary rocks are of the Cambrian Age and still occupy
mainly the position in which they were originally deposited. Therefore
we need not be surprised to discover that some, at least, of the
excavations are proportionately ancient; and that the Natural Bridges
are the last remaining positive evidence of their former existence and
final collapse. That the Natural Bridges of Missouri mark the
destruction of more ancient caves than the one preserved to geological
history by Virginia's grand attraction, seems quite evident. The greater
age of the rocks indicates the possibility of earlier excavation while
their undisturbed position suggests that destruction resulted, not from
violent earth movement, but from the slow action of agencies requiring
long periods of time.

Before proceeding to a discussion of the caves visited personally for
the gratification of private interest, it is desirable to know what
attention has been given to the subject, incidentally, in the course of
regular official duty on the Missouri Geological Survey.


Although many unknown caves must yet be discovered in the imperfectly
explored portions of the vast Ozark forests, these finds are already so
numerous as to seldom attract attention according to their just

One of the comparatively recent of these discoveries is Crystal Cave, at
Joplin, described on page 566, Vol. VII., Missouri Geological Survey
Report 1894.[1] It was opened in the lower workings of a shaft of the
Empire Zinc Company, and "The entire surface of the cave, top, sides and
bottom, is lined with calcite crystals, so closely packed together as
to form a continuous sheet and most of them of great size, and well
formed faces. Scalenohedra as much as two feet long are sometimes seen,
and others a foot or more in length are common. Planes or crystal
ghosts, sometimes with pyrite crystals, marking stages of growth in the
calcite crystals, are often distinguishable. The entire absence of
anything like stalactites is noticeable, and together with the presence
of the crystals, show that the cave was completely filled with water
during their growth." In the same volume, all those counties in the
extreme southwest corner of the state, whose geological age has not
heretofore been considered positively determined, are mapped as Lower
Carboniferous, and Lower Silurian, with the Coal Measures covering
portions of Barton and Jasper and appearing in a few small, scattered
spots in Dade, Polk, Green and Christian counties, and some scanty lines
of Devonian fringing the edges of the Silurian in Barton and McDonald.

Other State reports make mention of many caves and fine springs, and
also several natural bridges worthy of special notice. In Mr. G.C.
Broadhead's report for 1873-1874, he gives a short but interesting
chapter on caves and water supplies, in which he says that "Caves occur
in the Third Magnesian Limestone, Saccharoidal Sandstone, Trenton,
Lithographic, Encrinital and St. Louis Limestone."

"In Eastern and Northeast Missouri there have not been found many large
caves in the Encrinital Limestone, but the lower beds of this formation
in Southwest Missouri often enclose very large caverns; among the latter
may be included the caves of Green County with some in Christian and
McDonald. Those in McDonald I have not seen, but they are reported to be
very extensive and probably are situated in the Encrinital Limestone."

Under the head of "Special Descriptions" he says: "On Sac River, in the
north part of Green County, we find a cave with two entrances, one at
the foot of a hill, opening toward Sac River, forty-five feet high and
eighty feet wide. The other entrance is from the hill-top, one hundred
and fifty feet back from the face of the bluff. These two passages
unite. The exact dimensions of the cave are not known, but there are
several beautiful and large rooms lined with stalactites and stalagmites
which often assume both beautiful and grotesque life-like forms. The
cave has been explored for several hundred yards, showing the formations
to be thick silicious beds of the Lower Carboniferous formations."

"Knox cave, in Green County, is said to be of large dimensions. I have
not seen it, but some of its stalactites are quite handsome."

"Wilson's Creek sinks beneath the Limestone and appears again below."

"There are several caves near Ozark, Christian County, which issue from
the same formation as those in Green County. On a branch of Finly Creek
a stream disappears in a sink, appearing again three-quarters of a mile
southeast through an opening sixty feet high by ninety-eight feet wide.
Up stream the cave continues this size for a hundred yards and then
decreases in size, and for the next quarter of a mile further it is
generally ten by fourteen feet wide. A very clear, cool stream passes
out, in which by careful search crawfish without eyes can be found."

"There is another cave a few miles south of Ozark, and another ten miles
southeast occurs in the Magnesian Limestone."

"In Boone County there are several caves in the Encrinital Limestone.
Conner's, the largest, is said to have been explored for a distance of
eight miles."

"In Pike and Lincoln there are several small caves occurring in the
upper beds of Trenton Limestone, which are often very cavernous. On
Sulphur Fork of Cuivre, there is a cave and Natural Bridge, to which
parties for pleasure often resort. The bridge is tubular with twenty
feet between the walls, and is one hundred feet long."

"At J.P. Fisher's on Spencer Creek, Ralls County, there is a cave having
an entrance of ninety feet wide by twenty feet high. The Lower Trenton
beds occupy the floor, with the upper cavernous beds above. On the
bluff, at a distance of one hundred and fifty yards back, there is a
sink-hole which communicates with the cave. Within the cave is a cool,
clear spring of water, and Mr. F. said he could keep meat fresh there
for six weeks during midsummer."

"The Third Magnesian Limestone which occupies such a large portion of
Southwest Missouri, often contains very large caves. One of them, known
as Friede's cave, is six or eight miles Northwest of Rolla, on Cave
Spring Creek."

"It is said to have been explored for several miles, but I only passed
in a few hundred yards. The stalactites here are very beautiful,
assuming the structure of satin spar. A very clear stream of water
issues out. West of the Gasconade, on Clifty Creek, is a remarkable
Natural Bridge which I have elsewhere described in Geological Survey of
Missouri, 1855-71, page 16."

"Mr. Meek speaks of a large and interesting cave on Tavern Creek, in
Miller County. Dr. Shumard estimates a cave on Bryant's Fork, in Ozark
County, to be a mile and a half long."

This description of Dr. Shumard's is in the Geological Survey of
Missouri, 1855-71, page 196, where he says:

"The entrance is thirty-five feet wide and thirty feet high, and is
situated at the foot of a perpendicular cliff, and far above the
water-level of Bryant. Just within the entrance it expands to sixty or
seventy feet, with a height of about fifty feet; and this part of the
cave has been used by the citizens of the county as a place for holding
camp-meeting. I estimated its length at not far short of one mile and a
half. The main passage is in general quite spacious, the roof elevated,
and the floor tolerably level, but often wet and miry. For some distance
beyond the entrance there is not much to attract attention; but as we
proceed, at the far extremity the chambers are quite as picturesque as
the most noted of the well-known Mammoth Cave. The ceilings, sides and
floor are adorned with a multitude of stalactites and stalagmites
arranged in fanciful combinations, and assuming a variety of fantastic
and beautiful forms."

Many of these caves contain niter, which occurs as a mineral and not as
evidence of former animal occupation, it being found in the form of
effervescenses on the walls. Dr. Shumard mentions several of this
character in Pulaski County, the most noted being Niter Cave, in the
Third Magnesian Limestone, with a wide entrance thirty feet above the
level of the Gasconade. On page 201, he also gives a charming
description of one of the immense springs that are numerous in this
region and that I have never seen elsewhere. He says:

"Ozark County is bountifully supplied with springs of the finest water,
and some of them of remarkably large size. The largest one is situated
near the North Fork, in T. 24, R. 11 W., Sec. 32, and is known under the
name of the Double Spring. It issues from near the base of a bluff of
Sandstone and Magnesian Limestone, a few feet above the level of the
North Fork. This spring discharges an immense volume of water, which is
divided by a huge mass of Sandstone into two streams, with swift
currents flowing in opposite directions to join the North Fork about one
hundred and fifty yards distant from the spring. I estimated the width
of these streams at not less than fifty yards. They are separated from
the North Fork by a pretty wooded island one hundred yards long. The
upper stream affords a good mill-site. I am informed that the quantity
of water discharged by this magnificent spring is not materially
diminished during the dryest seasons of the year. The temperature of the
water measured at the edge of the spring, was found to be 56°; the
temperature of the air at the same time, 59°. Other springs of
considerable magnitude occur in various portions of the county, giving
rise to beautiful and limpid streams."

The descriptions of the Natural Bridge and Friede's cave, near Rolla,
previously referred to as being on page 16 of the same volume, are as

"On Clifty Creek found the chert bed of Sec. 21-5 occurring about sixty
feet from the top of the Third Magnesian Limestone, with a road passing
over its upper surface, presenting it very favorably for observation. It
seemed here to be broken by vertical cracks into large rhomboidal
blocks. Further up this creek in a wild and secluded spot, observed a
Natural Bridge with six feet of this chert bed at its base, and
Silicious Magnesian Limestone above. The span of this bridge is about
thirty feet, an elevation of opening about fifteen feet above the water,
the thickness of the rock above is about twelve feet, and width on top
about fifteen feet. Two small streams come together, one from the west
and another from the south-west. A point of the bluff on the south-west
fork spans the northern fork, and terminates about sixty feet beyond in
a sharp point; a few large masses of rock lie near the termination of
the promontory, and fifty feet beyond, the bluffs of the opposite hills
rise abruptly from the bottoms. The bluffs, both above and below, are
very precipitous, the middle and lower beds of the Third Magnesian
Limestone forming perpendicular escarpments, frequently studded with
cedar, some occurring on top of the bridge. A perfectly clear stream of
water courses through this valley. The bottoms near are overspread with
a dense growth of trees and vines, among which latter I noticed the
Muscadine grape. The valley at this part being shut in by its
perpendicular cliffs with not a path to guide the traveler through the
dense thickets, is wildly picturesque and romantic in its loneliness."

Of the cave he says: "This cave is a quarter of a mile east of Cave
Spring Creek, and has a wide and elevated entrance; passing into it a
hundred yards or more, the passage narrows, and in order to go further a
stream of water has frequently to be waded through; this passage has
been followed by some persons several miles without finding any object
of interest; but a few hundred yards from the entrance, by diverging to
the right, we enter a large chamber, studded with stalactites and
stalagmites, many uniting and forming solid columns of support. Many of
these are very beautiful, and often as white as alabaster. There are
other large rooms, but they possess no peculiar interest. Found large
deposits of earth on the floor having a saline taste."

Of the extensive pine forests in Ozark County, he says: "The size and
quality of the timber will compare favorably with that of the
celebrated pineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota."

In several other counties the pine is equally good, and other valuable
timber everywhere abundant, although in a school geography published in
1838, the following descriptions of this region occur:

"The lowlands of the Mississippi are bounded by the region of the Ozark
Mountains. With the exception of the alluvial tracts on the borders of
the streams, it is extremely hilly and broken. The mountains rise from
eight hundred to eighteen hundred feet above the streams, with rounded
summits and often perpendicular cliffs, and have a rocky surface, which
admits only a scanty growth of timber." * *

"Missouri is generally a region of prairies and table lands, much of
which, as already described, is almost destitute of timber and water. It
is crossed by the Ozark Mountains, which form a rugged tract of
considerable extent. Earthquakes are not infrequent in some parts of
this state. The soil is not generally productive."

A comparison of these curious views with the latest official reports is
highly amusing, as well as suggestive that early impressions are liable
to require modification.

In addition to the wonderful springs of pure water, there are numerous
fine mineral springs, among which are a number of Epsom salt springs.
At Jacksonville, in Randolph County, there is a large mineral spring
from which it is said an over-heated horse may drink all he will without
injury. Epsom-salts, or Epsomite, frequently occurs, as does the Niter,
in a crystalline form of the pure mineral, as an efflorescence on rocks
in many of the caves and in other sheltered positions.

[Illustration: The Surveyed Portions of Marble Cave Stone County

Surveyed and Plotted by Fred Prince. 1894

Scale of 100 feet]


[1] Lead and Zinc. Prof. C.R. Keyes.



Marble Cave, which is the finest yet explored in Missouri, is southeast
of the center of Stone County, a short distance north of the picturesque
White River. The nearest station is Marionville on the St. Louis and San
Francisco railroad, and the drive of forty miles is delightful, but can
be divided, into two of twenty each by a stop at Galena. The road, for
the most part, is naturally macadamized and is through a most charming
country whose roughness and beauty increase together as the journey
advances. At first it winds along fertile valleys between wooded hills,
crossing many times a shallow stream of water so clear as to afford no
concealment for an occasional water-moccasin, whose bite is said to be
not poisonous if inflicted under water, and which must be true because
the horses showed not the least uneasiness.

The second week in May found the vegetation in its summer beauty;
strawberries were ripe, and the weather without a fault.

Galena is pleasantly situated on the hills overlooking the James River,
and is entirely invisible from the road by which it is approached until
a slight curve in the line of ascent ends the first half of the journey
with surprising suddenness. In the immediate vicinity there are several
small caves which are worthy of attention and will be described later

To properly picture the twenty miles of changing and charming views
between Galena and Marble Cave would require the light and skillful
touch of a special artist gifted with a tangible perception of
atmospheric values. Gradually the road forsakes the pretty valleys with
their fields and streams, to take the summit of the hills and then be
known as the "Ridge Road," which affords a wide range of vision not
previously enjoyed, presenting scenes not to be found reproduced
elsewhere with any degree of exactness. Looking into the depth of the
forest as it slopes away on either side, the impression is of a
magnificent park, undefaced by what are called improvements. This effect
is produced by the scarcity, or entire absence of underbrush, and a
beautiful surface covering of grasses or flowering plants of all kinds
and colors, varied here and there with masses of ferns of unusual size
and delicate beauty. The most unexpected and lavish feature of the rich
display is the many miles of fragrant honeysuckle that grows only
eighteen inches high in the forest shade, but if transplanted to a sunny
spot develops into the familiar vine. The most beautiful portion of
all this is called The Wilderness, and seems designed for a National
Park. Such a park reserve, even if very small, could not fail to be a
lasting pleasure, since it would be more accessible to large centers of
population than other reserves, and its most delightful seasons are
spring and autumn when the Yellowstone is under snow.

[Illustration: A Mill-Site Near Marble Cave.]

The distant view obtained through open spaces is an undulating forest in
all directions, being apparently both trackless and endless. The great
variety of greens observed in the foliage blends in the distance into
one dark shade, then changes to dark blue, which gradually fades out to
a hazy uncertainty where it is lost at the sky-line.

As long ago as 1853, the variety and abundance of the natural growth of
fruits throughout the Ozarks was observed by Professor Swallow, who then
advised the planting of vines.

Beyond the Wilderness is the Marble Cave property and the entrance to
the Cave is through a large sink-hole in the top of Roark Mountain. This
hole is said to be about two hundred feet long, one hundred feet wide
and thirty-five feet deep. It is shaped like a great oblong bowl with
sloping sides, divided irregularly near the middle, and having the
bottom broken out in a jagged way that is very handsome and gives an
ample support to the growth of ferns, wild roses, and other vegetation
with which it is abundantly decorated. About half of the descent into
the basin is accomplished by scrambling down the roughly broken rocks,
and the balance by a broad wooden stairway ending at a narrow platform
that supports the locked gate.

For kind and valuable assistance rendered to insure the success and
pleasure of the visit to the wonderful cave, which they regard with
affection and pride, very cordial thanks are due to Capt. T.S. Powell,
former manager, his son, Mr. Will Powell, the first guide, and Mr. Fred
Prince, who has made the only official survey and map. It may be stated
here that the survey and map are far from complete, and many known
passages have never yet been entered.

Being the first visiting party of the season, certain disadvantages were
encountered in a great accumulation of wet clay and rubbish, washed in
by the rains since the previous summer; but the gate was opened with
considerable effort, and slowly and cautiously we descended the
slippery, clay-banked stairs to the immense mound of debris forty-five
feet below the gate, to behold, at last, the grandeur of the Auditorium.

The magnificence of that one chamber should give to Marble Cave a
world-wide fame even if there were nothing more beyond. The blue-gray
limestone walls have a greater charm than those of an open cañon, owing
to the fact that they sweep away from any given point in long, true
curves to form an elliptical chamber three hundred and fifty feet long
by one hundred and twenty-five feet wide, with the vault above showing
absolute perfection of arch, and measuring, by the survey, from its
lowest to its highest point, one hundred and ninety-five feet. These
measurements are said to be indisputably correct, and if so, the
Auditorium of Marble Cave is the largest unsupported, perfect arch in
the world; it being one hundred feet longer than the famous Mormon
Tabernacle at Salt Lake City. In addition to the artistic superiority of
architectural form, its acoustic properties having been tested, it is
found to be truly an auditorium. The curving walls and pure atmosphere
combine to aid the voice, and carry its softest tones with marvelous
distinctness to every portion of the immense inclosed space. As a
concert hall its capacity has been tested by musicians who are said to
have been enthusiastic over the success of their experiments. Several
years ago a piano was lowered into the cave for use on a special
occasion, and still occupies a position on the dancing platform, where
it will probably remain indefinitely under the scant protection of a
small canvas tent.

The chief ornament of the Auditorium is the White Throne, a stalagmitic
mass that when viewed from the stairway appears to rest solidly against
the most distant wall, and looks so small an object in that vast space
as to render a realization of its actual measurement impossible. The
height of the Throne is sixty-five feet and the girth two hundred. It is
a mass of dripstone resting on a limestone base reserved from the
ancient excavation to receive it, and on careful inspection the
perpendicular lines, observed on the front, are found to be a set of
rather large organ pipes. A fresh fracture shows the Throne to be a most
beautiful white and gold onyx. The outer surface has now received a thin
coating of yellow clay which was, of course, regretted, but later
observations on onyx building reveals the pleasing fact that if the
crystal-bearing waters continue to drip, the yellow clay will supply the
coloring matter for a golden band of crystal.

The Throne is hollow and has a natural opening in one side by which it
may be entered, but the space within is too limited to invite a lengthy
stay. That portion of the outside which is nearest the wall is formed
with sufficient irregularity of outline to admit of an ascent to the
top, and the view obtained is well worth the difficult scramble up and
the apprehensive slide down. Being raised so high above all objects that
divide attention or in some degree obstruct the view, permits a freedom
of outlook that sensibly increases the appreciation of the vastness of
the enclosed chamber and its enclosing walls. Efforts to establish the
age of the deposit by observations on the yearly growth, would afford
little satisfaction, for the obvious reason that conditions governing
the growth are dependent, in a measure, on each season's vegetation.
Deposit began, of course, after the erosion of the chamber ceased, and
therefore represents only a fraction of the age of the cave itself.
About thirty feet west of the White Throne and against the wall, stands
the next onyx attraction in the form of a beautiful fluted column nearly
twenty feet high, tapering up from a base three feet in diameter, and
known as the Spring Room Sentinel, because the Spring of Youth is just
behind it although not directly connected with the Auditorium; it being
the first chamber on the left in Total Depravity Passage, a wet and
dangerous way of which next to nothing is known, but the entrance to
which is a fine arch a few feet west of the Sentinel. The Spring of
Youth is reached by climbing through a window-like opening, and is very
small, very wet, very cold, and very beautiful. It is not more than ten
feet high nor six in its greatest length and breadth, but every inch of
its irregular surface is composed of dripstone of a bright yellowish-red
and colorless crystal; and down the glittering walls trickles clear and
almost ice-cold water, to the onyx floor where it is caught and held in
a marvelous fluted bowl of its own manufacture. This is said to be the
gem of the whole cave and seems to have been placed where it is for the
consolation of those who are unable to enjoy the peculiar grandeur of
the Auditorium, and leave it as some actually are said to do, with a
sense of disappointment, because it is not the gleaming white hall of
marble which some writers for reputable journals have allowed their
imaginations to create.

In winter the Spring of Youth Room takes on a complete coating of ice,
with icicles of all sizes hanging from the ceiling and projections. The
effect is described as being wonderfully beautiful.

Further down Total Depravity Passage we were not urged to go, because at
that season of the year it is wet and difficult, without any sufficient
promise of a brilliant compensation for the achievement of such a
journey. But the Spring of Youth Room, or as it is generally called, the
Spring Room, is more than ample justification for the existence of the
passage, and would still be if that passage were several miles in length
and the attraction located at the most distant limit.

[Illustration: Wall in Spring Room. Page 32.]

The various passages in Marble Cave are by no means alike or even
similar; some having been opened by the action of water assisted only by
acid carried in solution; while others are the unmistakable crevices of
earthquake origin, afterwards enlarged, or perhaps only remodeled, as we
might say, by the water's untiring energy in changing the position of
rock masses without obliterating evidences of original design.

A glance at the map shows the sudden breaking off of the various
passages represented; the end, however, is not of the passages
themselves, but only of the exploration or the survey of them, and there
is a possibility that future developments will lead to the discovery of
more caves than are yet known. However that may be, the glimpses already
had into the beyond are said to be alluring.

To the north of the Auditorium, which was until recently called the
Grand Amphitheater, there opens out a kind of alcove extension known as
the Mother Hubbard Room, and spreading out from this is the corridor, a
room about one hundred and twenty-five feet long and seventy-five feet
in width, with a low, narrow passage, or crawl, leading from the
northeast into the Grotto, a dome-shaped room formerly called the
Battery, on account of the great number of bats that used to congregate
in it. It is about forty feet in diameter and fifty feet in height. On
one side of this room is a narrow "squeeze" opening into a passage
several feet lower than the floor level of the Grotto and leading to the
Spanish Room, which when discovered bore indications of having been
occupied by a human being who had tried to escape by tunneling, or by
reaching a hole in the roof; which is said to be impossible for him to
have done without outside assistance. As no bones have been found we may
hope the assistance arrived in time. When the discovery of the room was
made, a quantity of loose rock was piled before the entrance, so if he
ever escaped it was not by that way.

After crawling back to the Corridor, through the same small, but dry
passage of seventy feet length, we saw a narrow ledge of fine crystals,
a deposit of Epsom salts, and a few bats that in the dim light looked
white but are a light tan color with brown wings. A good specimen
hanging on a projecting ledge of the wall remained undisturbed by us and
our lights, giving an opportunity for careful inspection so that we
presently discovered it to be a mummy; which naturally suggests that
this portion of the cave, being dry and opening out of the great
temple-like Auditorium as an alcove, could be converted into an imposing

Making our way across the room to its southwest extremity over a varied
assortment of bowlders and down a drop of eight or ten feet, we crawled
into another tight-fitting dry passage lined with beautiful glittering
onyx like clear ice banded with narrow lines of red, of which broken
fragments covered the narrow floor and made a dazzling, but
distressingly painful rug to crawl over. This is the West Passage and
leads to the Grand Crevice, of which only a small portion has been
surveyed; midway of the passage are the Epsom Rooms, two in number, and
well supplied with epsomite or native Epsom salts; this is sometimes
called the Windy Passage, on account of a rushing current of air met
suddenly at the first bend and, no doubt, due to the meeting here of
fresh air coming in from the outside with that chemically changed in the
Epsom Rooms.

The cave contains a great many dangerous places, as we correctly
surmised on the morning of our introduction; when Mr. Powell's blessing
on the breakfast was lost in so fervent a prayer for the safe and
successful accomplishment of our undertaking, it seemed inconsiderate
not to present the reassuring appearance of inexhaustible endurance.

In the Corridor can be seen one of the three old Spanish ladders found
in the cave when it was rediscovered; but when and for what purpose the
Spaniards used the cave there seems to be no means of finding out. It
should be remembered that this part of the United States was occupied
first by the Spaniards and then by the French, and is a portion of the
Louisiana Purchase, a tract of 897,931 square miles, or 70,000 square
miles more than the original thirteen states. The price asked and paid
was $12,000,000 and the assumption of claims which citizens of this
country had against the French Government for about $3,750,000 more. The
French offered to make the sale on account of being thoroughly
discouraged with constant troubles arising with the Indians, whom they
had decided it would be impossible to persuade or compel to recognize
any laws other than those established by each tribe for itself, or
accepted by friendly treaty with the council and disregarded by
individuals on both sides:--and the United States accepted the offer,
not for any expected value in the land, but for the unrestricted
navigation of the Mississippi River. Therefore Missouri was never under
British rule and never changed hands by force of arms.

But to return to the Spanish ladder, it is a tall pine tree notched on
the sides for steps, and the stump of a branch left or a peg inserted at
considerable intervals, for hand supports to assist in raising the
weight of the body.

Returning to the Auditorium, we entered a passage behind the Great White
Throne and started on what might well be called the Water Route, for no
dry spot is touched on the round trip; but if one goes prepared for
such a journey it is well worth the effort and the mud. If the visitor
is a man, the suit worn should be one he is ready to part with, or
overalls; ladies receive the same advice even to the overalls, as some
of the most beautiful portions of the cave, which we failed to see, can
be visited only in that objectionable costume. To visit any cave
comfortably a short dress is necessary and if any thing like a thorough
knowledge of the ramifications is desired, the unavoidable climbing will
soon prove the superior claims of a divided skirt; but if it is properly
made, only the wearer need be conscious of the divide. Rubber boots and
water-proof protection for the head and shoulders complete a costume
that is not exactly an artistic creation, unless our ideas of art have
been gathered in the school of Socrates, but it is suited to the
requirements of the occasion and makes the explorations far more easy
and profitable than they otherwise could be.

The passage back of the White Throne is called the Serpentine Passage,
and most of it is sufficiently high for traveling in an erect position;
yet there are several places that require crawling. The first stopping
point is the Gulf of Doom Room, or as it is also known, the Register
Room, because here visitors usually write their names in the peculiar
dark red clay, which is moist but firm and cuts with a polish. This
room is twenty-five feet high and fifty feet wide, and looks off into
the Gulf of Doom, which seems rightly named when a rock is thrown into
it and you note the lapse of time before any sound returns; and when the
awful Gulf is made visible by lights thrown in, one involuntarily seeks
a firmer footing and clings to a projecting rock. The height of the Gulf
is ninety-five feet and the distant sound of falling water is not
reassuring. The walls are not smoothly worn away, but have the rough and
weird appearance of having been torn by a torrent in a narrow mountain
gorge, and are stained with the dark clay.

Retracing our steps a short distance, if that style of locomotion could
be called steps, we turned into Doré's Gallery, and surely that artist
was in his usual working mood when he conceived this awful method of
connecting the upper regions with the lower. Great bowlders have fallen
down without helping to fill the black holes that received them, and
into this real Inferno we proceeded to descend by narrow, ladder-like
stairs provided with a light hand rail, and trembling slightly with the
responsibility they assumed. If any one's courage trembled too, no
notice was taken of it, and a record of exploring experiences does not
necessarily include a confession of any doubts.

On all the ladders in this Gallery was a fine white fungus growth in the
form of a thick, heavy mold, that the lightest touch destroyed. In caves
where some care is taken to protect this mold, it attains a growth of
six or more feet and assumes the forms of sea-weed.

Once down the first and longest flight of stairs, without any signs of a
Doré dragon raising its huge body by heavy claws to a resting place
among the rocks, awe divides more evenly with admiration; and being
already well besmeared with mud, we climbed over the clay-covered
bowlders and crawled through narrow holes with perfect satisfaction,
enjoying each novel scene to the utmost.

Off from the Doré Gallery is a small chamber containing the Fountain of
Youth, that must be seen, but the way, like that of the transgressor, is
hard. Arrived at the entrance we hesitated a moment, for although
getting in looked possible, the way out again seemed not so simple; but
finally trusting to Providence, through the direct agency of our careful
guardians, of course, we sat down on the edge of the large slippery
bowlder on which we stood, and reaching out caught a projection of the
wall on one side and a bowlder crag on the other, swung off and dropped
into the soft mud below. This chamber proved to be a little gem; small
but high, and beautifully adorned with calcite crystal. Down a wall of
red onyx on one side clear water flows into a basin in the irregular,
rocky floor, just behind the bowlder we had used for a hand-rest at the
entrance; the perfectly transparent water in the basin appears to be
only a few inches deep, but measures three feet, and is several degrees
colder than the air, which in this portion of the cave is warm. The
other wall of this room is an almost perpendicular bank of the soft dark
red clay, in which small selenite crystals are sprouting like plants in
a garden.

Suddenly we heard a heavy, rolling noise like distant thunder, and
asking if it were possible to hear a thunder storm so far below the
surface, were told it was the protest of angry bats against a further
advance on the quarters to which they have retreated from the main body
of the cave, and their orders were obeyed: so of what may be in that
direction, we gained no positive knowledge besides bats, and the fact
that, small as they are, their great numbers make them dangerous when
angry. Returning to the gallery and continuing the journey down over
slippery rock and slender ladders we came at length to the bottom of the
Gulf of Doom, into which we had looked from the room now high above us;
and we needed no stimulating help to the imagination to pronounce it a
fit termination to an artist's troubled dream.

[Illustration: The Waterfall. Page 41.]

Then climbing over an assortment of bowlders of all sizes, going up a
little, and swinging or sliding down, we came to a point in the narrow
passage where the floor is a flat slab, like a large paving stone,
tilted up at a steep angle against one wall and not reaching the other
by about fifteen inches, with darkness of unknown depth below: about
three feet above this opening the wall projects in a narrow, shelving
ledge, and everything is covered with a thin coating of slippery wet
clay. The only way to cross that uninviting bridge is to brace the feet
against the slab, and leaning on the ledge, slowly work across. A little
more rough work and the descent of the two short ladders, brought us, at
last, under the beautiful Waterfall, where we stood as in a heavy shower
of rain at the lowest point yet reached in the cave, which according to
the survey of Mr. Prince is four hundred feet below the surface. The
falling water has ornamented the walls, which in this portion of the
cave expose over two hundred feet of Magnesian Limestone, with unique
forms of dripstone; and the steeply sloping floor has received the
over-charge of calcium carbonate until it has become a shining mass of
onyx, retaining pools of cold, transparent water in the depressions. In
the lowest corner there is only mud, and above it rises, to a height of
at least fifteen feet a bank of miry, yellow clay, at the top of which a
hole in the wall is the only known entrance to Blondy's Throne.

[Illustration: Longitudinal and Cross-Sections of Passages in Marble
Cave, Stone Co., Missouri.

Plotted by Fred Prince, 1894.]



On account of the long "crawl" through mud and cold water, it was at
first suggested and then strongly advised, that we should not undertake
to make the trip to Blondy's Throne: and yearning to see what is
considered the cave's chief beauty was not easy to overcome, but after
careful attention to the deep mire of the approach the advice seemed
good, especially as Mr. Powell kindly promised to write a description of
its trials and treasures; which he promptly did, thereby making it
possible for us to continue the journey now without a disappointing
interruption, so we will proceed to wade that mud bank with him in his
own way. He says: "As Mecca is to the Mohammedan, so is Blondy's Throne
Room to the pilgrim who invades the chaos and penetrates the mysteries
of Marble Cave. When the subject is mentioned to the guide, he shrugs
his shoulders and assumes an imploring look, and begins at once to
mention the difficulties of getting there. But if you insist upon it he
will go. The passage by which this room has to be reached, if passage it
may be called, must be entered from the Waterfall Room, and a steep
ascent must be made until an elevation of fifty feet is reached above
the bottom of that room. This ascent has been called Hughse's Slide, as
a man of that name once lost his footing at the top and slid on the wet
and very slippery clay all the way to the bottom, leaving a very sleek
trail. The ascent is difficult, as the soft clay is deep and wet and the
sides are reeking and covered also with soft yielding clay. When the top
of the slide is once reached, a low passage six feet wide and two feet
high is discovered, and stooping low, or actually lying flat down, you
enter. The top of the passage is of smooth rock and the bottom is of wet
clay with an occasional variation of sharp gravel. The air is good, and
as a lizard, you start forward. In places the passage widens to ten or
twelve feet and again narrows to six feet.

"In about one hundred feet you encounter a small pond of water filling
the whole width of the passage and extending twenty to thirty feet, but
the guide tells you it is only one foot deep, and calls attention to the
fact that the water does not come within a foot of the roof of the
passage and you can easily keep your chin above it, and with this
assurance through you go.

"Within the next one hundred feet you encounter and pass in the same
manner three more ponds of varying sizes. The guide calls your
attention to the fact that you are not alone, and looking about you by
the dim light of your candle you see numbers of small eyeless
salamanders, from four inches to one foot long. They are peaceable and
harmless, appear to have no teeth and are easily caught, if you so

"Another hundred feet and the Rest Room, or Egyptian Temple is reached,
and rising to your feet you may rest. The room is small, but contains
beautifully fluted walls, resembling basaltic columns; and natural marks
of erosion that resemble hieroglyphic inscriptions. From the other side
of this room the passage goes on with the same characteristics, but as
you enter to go forward a sound strikes the ear, and you pause to
listen. It is a confusion of sounds, a babel of voices; and sounds like
a distant conversation carried on by a large number of people. So
striking is this resemblance that you instantly ask the guide if there
are people in the room ahead, and hardly believe him when he says, 'No.'

"You hear voices of men, voices of boys, babies, girls and ladies, and
occasionally loud laughter; but forward is the word and on you go,
encouraged by the assurance of the guide that you are now over half way
through the passage and that the sounds came from Blondy's Throne Room.
Suddenly the passage divides into two much alike, and taking the right
hand one, you make your slow advance until at last, with clothes soaked
and covered with clay mud, and your strength about gone, you begin to
feel desperate and tell the guide that you will go no further, when you
see him rise to his feet, and he says: 'Here we are.' You step over a
steep bank of clay and emerge into a large room. It is almost square in
shape; about eighty feet long and sixty feet wide, and about fifty feet
high, with white, smooth walls and a pure white ceiling, and sloping
gradually downward on the left ends in a small, clear lake of water.
This lake has a beautiful beach of white pebbles, and though shallow on
the edge seems quite deep at the center; in fact it is believed to have
there a concealed opening that gives exit to its waters. On the opposite
side from you, a stream of clear water pours into the lake, and in doing
so it gives off the sounds that in the passage you mistook for human
voices; and this noble stream has been named Mystic River. It enters the
lake from under a beautiful natural arch, about thirty feet across at
the bottom, and six feet above the water at the center. The bed of the
stream is eroded from strata of sandstone that is extremely hard,
containing corundum, and so perfect is its continuity that it conveys
sound distinctly for a distance far beyond the reach of the human voice,
when tapped upon with a hammer. The top of the arch is studded with
lovely stalactites, clear as glass, that extend to the outer edge of the
arch and form massive and beautiful groups there. Above the arch is a
large opening. In truth the side of the room is out, and a great dark
space appears like a curtain of black. A natural path leads up over one
side of the arch, and following the lead of the guide you go up above
and learn that a room on the higher level extends off in that direction
and gets larger and higher. The walls are stalagmitic columns in cream
color and decked in places with blood-red spots or blotches of Titanic
size. The ceiling you cannot see. It is too high for the lights you have
to reach. On the left you are suddenly confronted by a stalagmitic
formation so large and so grand that all others are dwarfed into
insignificance. You think of the dome of the Capitol at Washington. You
are standing at the sloping base but cannot see the top. Just here the
guide announces in an awestruck voice 'Blondy's Throne.' And who is
Blondy? Only a fair-haired, blue-eyed, intrepid and daring
fifteen-year-old boy, named Charles Smallwood, who assisted the writer
in exploring the cave in the early days of 1883, and going on in
advance, reported back that he had found another and a greater throne
than the Great White Throne in the Auditorium.

[Illustration: Blondy's Throne. Page 47.]

"Well, here we are at Blondy's Throne at last, and surveying the base,
we find that it is actually only half in the room we are in; the other
half forms the side of another room. In a word, the Great Throne divides
the room into two parts and makes two rooms of it instead of one. Yet
the one half of the base has a measurement, by tape line, of one hundred
and fifty feet. The guide now makes preparations to ascend the Throne. A
chain has been fastened up towards the top, and by taking hold of this
the climb can be made up the sloping sides of the Throne. We pass on and
up over the clearest and most ice-like formation, resembling the great
icebergs seen at sea. Reaching an elevation of sixty feet an opening
into the dome is found, and stooping, you enter. It is a room about
twenty feet across, with a white ice-like floor, a roof or ceiling ten
feet above, and from it hang thousands of brilliant stalactites and from
the floor stalagmites rise up to meet them. They are in all sizes, from
an inch to two feet across. The sides are of the same material joined
and cemented lightly together. Strike any of them and clear musical
notes are given off; a musician has found two full octaves. Water is
dripping in many places, and in the center of the floor is a tank full
of clear water. It is four feet wide, twelve feet long and of unknown

"On the opposite side of the room from which you enter there is a hole
or opening in the wall. It is large enough to go through but it goes
into the great dark room on the other side of the Throne. An abyss
confronts you, a sheer precipice which descends for many feet, perhaps
hundreds. No man knows. This outer room of Blondy's Throne has been
named the Chamber of the Fairies. Leaving it and continuing the ascent,
the top of the Throne is soon reached and is about twenty feet across;
and from several points still higher, rise stalagmitic spires.

"The actual height of Blondy's Throne is not known, but is probably
about one hundred feet. Again look upwards for the ceiling from the
dizzy height on top of the Throne; you cannot see it. Burn magnesium
ribbon and look up, and you see a white ceiling spangled with groups of
stalactites. It is surely one hundred feet away. Then look off into the
unknown room which is called the Great Beyond. No human being has ever
explored or even entered it, but fire balls thrown in reveal the fact
that it is of great extent; and part of the bottom water and part land.
No way of getting into it has ever yet been found, so its mysteries,
lessons and revelations are still safe from human intrusion. How far it
goes, where it stops, and what it leads to, are facts for some future
explorer to discover. Bats and white salamanders are found in Blondy's
Throne Room, and some larger animals have been heard to jump into the
water and escape on the approach of man, but their species is not known.

"The arched passage of Mystic River has been followed up for a journey
of an hour, but further than that its extent is unknown. It was hoped
that a way would be thus found into the Great Beyond, but it did not
prove successful. A well equipped party could find there a chance for
some grand discoveries, and it would be one of the notable pleasures of
the life of the writer to be one of such a party.

"The exit from Blondy's Throne Room is always made with deep regret that
the waning lights and meager supplies will not allow a longer stay. The
long crawl, the mud and the water are all forgotten, and notwithstanding
the terror of the trip one feels well repaid."

We thank Mr. Powell for a charming journey without its discomfort and
danger, and resume our travels at the Waterfall.

From the foot of the Waterfall we returned again to the Auditorium, in
time to enjoy a sight such as we supposed could exist only in a
brilliant imagination; and the return at that hour was not a lucky
accident of fate, but the result of careful attention to a prearranged
design that we should not fail to witness a marvelous display never
surpassed by lavish Nature. The day outside was one of cloudless
summer sunshine.

[Illustration: Blondy's Throne Room. Page 50.]

[Illustration: Foot of Waterfall. Page 50.]

Our eyes having grown accustomed to the dim light of candles in passages
where absolute darkness, unrelieved by the stars of midnight, always
reigns, the great Auditorium appeared before us softly flooded with
daylight diffused from a broad white beam slanting down in long straight
lines from the entrance as from a rift in heavy clouds; only this rift
displayed around its edges a brilliant border of vegetation that the
rough rocks cherish with tender care.

As we stood lost in almost speechless admiration, and without the
slightest warning of treasure yet in store, the white beam was stabbed
by a narrow, gleaming shaft of yellow sunlight. The glorious, radiant
beauty of the picture presented is utterly indescribable, but it was of
short duration, and in a few seconds the golden blade was withdrawn as
suddenly as it had appeared.

If the genius of Elkins had been granted the privilege we enjoyed, the
artist-world of Europe that graciously yielded the highest honor to his
"Sunbeam on Mount Shasta," would have knelt in rapturous humility.
Speaking of his great work, as we stood before it only a few months
before his death, Mr. Elkins said quietly: "It is no great achievement;
I simply painted it exactly as it looked. Anyone could do the same."
But no one ever has.

The white beam was more enduring and by its aid we were able to view the
expanse of the great Auditorium far better than could have been done in
the momentary glare of any brilliant artificial light. Every part of the
cloud-gray walls shows a stratification as regularly horizontal as if
the laying of each course had been done with the assistance of line and
level; while in every direction are now seen hundreds of stalactites
that had not been noticed before, and although they look small, the
average length, taken with the surveying instruments, is fourteen feet.
The Hill beneath the entrance is an accumulation of debris, drifted in
from the outside, and rising to a height of more than one hundred and
twenty-five feet; while the great circumference of its supporting base,
revealed by the banishment of shadows, suggests the possibility of
tragic history of which the only evidence lies buried there and may or
may not ever be discovered; but let us step lightly, since our feet may
press the covering that shields a final sleep; and also let a grieving
sister in her old age take comfort in the knowledge that here, as in few
other spots, nature provides a certain and gentle burial for the
unfortunate, and for a few seconds each day lights the dim chamber with
a heavenly glory--perhaps in appeal to the sons of one country to
harbor no such feelings as deprived Abel of life and for all time and
eternity tarnished the honor of Cain.

[Illustration: Entrance to Cave--Interior View. Page 52.]

The chilliness presently recalled us from further indulgence in that
great scene, to ordinary affairs; and consulting the reliable
thermometer, it was found to register 42°, while in some of the lower
passages the temperature is 58°; but the variation is not in accordance
with the accepted theory of one degree to the one hundred feet descent.

A return to the beautiful Spring of Youth Room was now a necessity, but
we were careful to allow no drop of water falling from clay-stained
hands to reach the purity of that lovely bowl, and then being happy and
hungry, we retired to the piano's protecting tent for refreshment.

The atmosphere in Marble Cave has the peculiar bracing and invigorating
quality common to the majority of caves, that seems almost to defy
fatigue and encourage exertion that under ordinary conditions would be

After the exertion necessary in the warmer portions of the cave, the
temperature of 42° proved rather low for comfort and finally was
admitted to be a sufficient reason for either leaving the cave or
sending out for the wraps. Slowly and reluctantly the party walked up
the long winding path to the summit of the Hill where the stairway
finds support, stopping many times to admire again the perfect curves
and fine color-tones of that wonderful high arch--within a mountain yet
softly radiant with the light of day.

Still lingering regretfully among the fern-decked rocks before quite
finishing the ascent to the actual outside world, the mercury lost
little time in registering eighty degrees.

Since no official, or even approximately correct map of Marble Cave has
yet been published, and the desirability of maps is particularly urged
by Monsieur E.A. Martel, a special effort was made to secure one, which
was accompanied by the following remarks from Mr. Prince in regard to
its incompleteness:

"There are several passages and rooms which do not appear on the map,
though some of them are well known, but have not been surveyed and

"Much further exploration is possible in this great cavern. Lost River
Cañon ends abruptly in a bank of red clay, the volume of water being
undiminished. The water from the Great Fall flows by a small serpentine
into a passage which has never been followed up; its entrance being
several hundred feet higher than the nearest water level."

Unfortunately the quantity of water in the cave at the time of the
visit just described was so unusually great as to render the Lost River
Cañon trip impossible.

During the previous season the cave and its surroundings were visited by
a prominent naturalist who appears to have been delightfully liberal in
the diffusion of scientific knowledge and the explanations of methods of
pursuing investigations. His practical instruction in snake catching is
particularly interesting as it was never before introduced into this
state, where the copperhead and rattler are known to have survived among
the fittest. Seeing a snake hole and desiring information as to the
family record of the proprietor, he inserted a finger, and while waiting
for results explained that there is no better way to secure a specimen,
as the enraged reptile will fasten its fangs into the intruding member
and then can be easily withdrawn. It is a pleasure to state that even
snakes recognize the claims of friendship, and no injury was

In the vicinity of Marble Cave there are several choice varieties of
onyx and marble, among them a rare and beautiful onyx in black and
yellow. The coloring, tinting and banding of onyx seem generally to be
regarded as one of the unexplainable mysteries of nature, but is in
reality an extremely simple process that can be easily studied in any
active cave.

When the percolating acidulated water passes slowly through a pure
limestone it is filtered of impurities and deposits a crystal, either
pure white or transparent; if it comes in contact with metallic bodies
of any kind, it carries away more or less in solution to act as coloring
matter; the beautiful pale green onyx in several Missouri counties
taking its tint from the copper; in South Dakota, manganese in various
combinations produces black and many shades of brown; in both states an
excessive flow of water often carries a quantity of red or yellow clay
which temporarily destroys the beauty of exposed surfaces, but in after
years becomes a fine band of brilliant color.

Small wind caves are numerous in the Ozarks and being cold are
frequently utilized for the preservation of domestic supplies. The
entrance to one in the neighborhood of Marble Cave is high up on the
hill-side south of Mr. Powell's house and being visible from the porch
was too tempting to be ignored, and the walk up to it for a better view
was rewarded with a most charming bit of scenery as well. All the quiet
valley, divided by a rushing little stream, lay before us in the shadow
of early evening, while to the north and east the hills were brilliant
in summer sunshine, with one small open glade gleaming vividly among
the darker shades of forest green.

The cave was a very small room at the bottom of a steep, rocky, sloping
passage, and contained no standing water, although there had been a
heavy rainfall the night before and the opening is so situated as to
especially favor the inflow, which naturally indicates a greater cave
beneath a hidden passage. Here, as in most of the caves of the region,
is found a small lizard: it is totally blind but its ancestors evidently
were not, as is shown by conspicuous protuberances where the eyes should
be, but over which the skin is drawn without a wrinkle or seam to
indicate a former opening. These harmless creatures are not scaly, but
are clothed in a soft, shining, well-fitted skin, and the largest seen
were little more than six inches long.

Those who love perfect Nature in a most smiling mood should hasten to
visit Marble Cave while yet no railroad quite touches the county.


[2] The naturalist referred to is the late Prof. E.D. Cope.



Fairy Cave enjoys the reputation of being the most beautiful yet
discovered in that cavernous region, and consequently a visit to it was
contemplated with considerable eagerness, although the mode of entrance
had been described with sufficient accuracy to prevent any misconception
of the difficulties to be overcome or the personal risk involved. To go
from our temporary abiding place it was necessary to pass Marble Cave,
and when we had gone that far Mr. Powell left us to follow the road,
while he, on his mule, took a short cut across the hills and valleys, to
try to find men not too much occupied with their own affairs on a fine
Monday morning, in corn plowing time, to join our expedition. As neither
our small companion, Merle, nor ourselves, had any knowledge of the
locality of our destination, we were carefully instructed to follow the
main road to the Wilderness Ridge, and keeping to that, pass the Indian
Creek road and all others that are plain, but turn down the second dim
road and follow it until stopped by a new fence where we would be met
and conducted. So long as points to be passed held out, these directions
gave us no trouble whatever, even the first dim road offering no
obstacle to the pleasure of our progress; but the second dim road proved
so elusive we traveled many miles in search of it, finally bringing up
against a place Merle was familiar with and knew to be a long way off
the track of our intentions. As there was nothing to be done but return
we naturally accepted the situation and did that; presently finding Mr.
Powell and the Messrs. Irwin, on whose land the cave is, patiently
waiting for us in what was really not a road at all, but rather, in this
region of fossils, the badly preserved impression of one long since

The new fence was opened at two places that we might drive through and
be saved the exertion of walking a considerable distance, then the
horses were left in the shade while we scrambled down the steep
hill-side covered with sharp-edged, broken rock, about mid-way down
which is the mouth of the cave, yawning like a narrow, open well. Above
this a stout windlass has been arranged on two forked logs.

A few feet below the surface the cave spreads out jug-shaped, so that in
descending nothing is touched until the floor is reached, one hundred
feet beneath the surface; consequently the only danger to be apprehended
is a fall.

Each of the three men present kindly offered to go down and make the
exploration with me, but that would have left only two at the windlass,
and for a man's weight, safety requires four. Should an accident occur,
assistance would be necessary, and some time lost in finding it; so, to
the undisguised satisfaction of one and equally evident relief of the
others, it was reluctantly decided that the trip must be given up, and
therefore we are indebted to the kindness of Captain Powell[3] for the
following description of Fairy Cave:

     "The Cave referred to is situated in Section 24, Township 23, Range
     23, in Stone County, Missouri, and is on the homestead of one of
     three brothers named Irwin.

     "It was accidentally discovered in the year 1895 and up to the time
     of this writing (June 1896) only six persons have ever entered it.
     It is in a point or spur of the Ozark Mountains which runs to the
     east from the great Wilderness Ridge, and is three miles distant
     from the Marble Cave. Having been one of the first to enter the
     Cave, being called by the owner as a sort of cave expert, I will
     attempt to describe both the adventure and the cave just as they
     were. The measurements are simply estimated, though by long
     practice I have become expert in that line also, but the longest
     measurement here was correctly taken by the rope used.

     "Having been invited by the Irwin brothers to come and examine and
     explore a new cave they had found but had only entered and not
     explored, accompanied by my eldest son, W.T. Powell, I reached the
     place one warm Saturday morning. We found about twelve or fourteen
     men waiting for our coming; some discussing the matter of whether
     we would enter when we did come, and others who had volunteered to
     work the windlass, which had been erected over the opening, by
     means of which, with a one hundred foot rope, entrance was to be
     made. The opening was like a small well, and situated under the
     edge of an overhanging cliff of marble, and on the southeast slope
     of the mountain, about one hundred and fifty feet above the bottom
     of a narrow valley, and about the same distance below the top of
     the mountain, which here is three hundred feet high. In order to
     rig a windlass the edge of the cliff had to be broken away. The
     well-like opening descended for about ten feet through strata of
     flat-laying rocks that formed a roof; then all appeared to be
     vacancy and a stone cast in gave back a distant sound.

     "Having first tested the air and proved it good by dropping in
     blazing excelsior saturated with turpentine, a stout oak stick was
     attached to the end of the rope, my son sprang astride and was
     lowered to the bottom, just one hundred feet. He reported back 'All
     right.' On the return of the rope I took my position on the stick
     and was soon dangling in mid air. The sensation was strange and
     exhilarating. Looking up I could only see the small opening I came
     through, and a straggling stream of light poured down that, but on
     all sides profound darkness reigned supreme. A spark-like light my
     son lit, reminded me of the lost Pleiad. About twenty-five or
     thirty feet from the top I caught sight of a scene that made me
     call on the men at the windlass to stop.

     "This caused them to think something was going wrong and one called
     out to know what was the matter: I heard him say 'He is weakening.'
     I assured them everything was right only I wanted to take a view;
     so they stopped. Off at a distance of perhaps twenty-five feet was
     an opening about ten feet or more wide and twelve feet high. The
     light from the opening struck it fairly, owing to the position of
     the sun at the time. Through this opening I saw into another room,
     large and magnificent. It brought to mind the White City. It was
     snowy white, and thickly studded with stalactites and stalagmites
     of immense size and in great numbers; some looking like spires of
     numerous churches, and many connected as with a lattice-work about
     the bottom. For a short time I gazed on that lovely scene, and
     examined the chances to reach it, but a great gulf intervened that
     we had no means of spanning, and I called to the men to lower me
     down. Approaching the bottom one of the walls trended in towards me
     and I stepped upon solid ground close to the wall, which half way
     up seemed fifty feet away. The opening above now looked like a
     small pale moon, and the next man who came dangling down to join us
     looked no bigger than a toy soldier. Gradually our eyes became
     accustomed to the twilight, and by the time our party was increased
     to six men, I could see quite distinctly.

     "The room runs directly into the mountain and is about ninety feet
     high, and where we landed it proved to be twenty feet wide. It
     extended in both directions, but much the farthest towards the
     right hand. The outer room is encrusted in fine white water
     formations. It forms a Gothic ceiling from which hang pendant at
     all places brilliant and sparkling stalactites; some being of
     immense size and length, from ten to twenty-five feet. Others are
     not so large but are brilliant. We created a flood of artificial
     light with dozens of candles and lamps; and then and not until
     then, could we see the slope and contour of the roof. A few bats
     were flitting about, disturbed for the first time. To the left, a
     vast white pillar extended from floor to roof. It was pure white
     and about five feet in diameter all the way up. It was fluted,
     fretted, draped and spangled. I never in my life saw anything more
     chaste and lovely. I thought of the countless ages it must have
     taken to form that monument: of the streams of clear water that had
     fallen and left their calcite deposits, while it grew year after
     year, age after age, century after century, in this profound
     darkness, disturbed by no noises save the rhythmic sound of the
     falling drops and the dull flitting of the bats, who alone were the
     living witnesses of its construction. To the rear of this great
     pillar the room is divided into three galleries, one above another.
     With great difficulty and much danger we climbed into each of
     these. The floors were all like the pillar of pure white onyx, and
     extended back a distance of thirty or more feet. The floor of one
     formed the roof of another. They were brilliant with hanging
     pendants and the side walls were all veneered with the same white
     and crystalline formation. To entirely describe them is impossible.
     A day in each would still leave the observer short of words in
     which to tell of the wonders.

     "Turning towards the right hand from the entrance we advance two
     hundred feet up an incline of dry clay, the room widening gradually
     until its width is forty feet, when we reach the top of an
     elevation thirty feet above the starting point, where a sudden
     steep descent brings us to a halt. A stone cast down strikes water
     and the sound of a splash comes back to us. With caution we seek
     our way down the hill and stand on the edge of a small lake or
     pond. Suddenly my son, who is in the lead, rushes back saying:
     'Look out! I put my hand on a snake.' Some of us, being armed with
     hickory canes that had been thrown down, concentrated our lights
     and advanced. Sure enough, there is a snake a yard long coiled up
     on a section of rotten wood. It proves to be a copperhead, the most
     quarrelsome and vicious snake in this country; but his nature is
     changed so that he makes no effort to fight and is killed with a
     blow, and is sent to be hoisted up that we may examine him in
     daylight. No others were found, and probably he had fallen in at
     the opening, and spent a long, weary time in expiation of his
     upper-earth crimes.

     "Examining the lake we find it to be about forty feet wide and the
     same long, and it fills the room from wall to wall. We cannot pass
     it so must either stop or wade through. We decide to wade, and on
     measuring the water find it only two or three feet deep, with a
     soft clay bottom, and in many places islands of stalagmite rise
     above the surface.

     "On the sides of the lake there are formations in the shape of
     sofas and lounges, and they appear to be cushioned, but the
     cushions are found to be hard, solid rock. As the lights advance
     across the lake new wonders are revealed. Curtains and draperies
     hanging from the top almost touch the water and entirely cut off
     the view beyond. Passing under a curtain at one of the highest
     places, we emerge from the lake, and once more on dry land, advance
     up a slope. Here the water formations have taken human shapes of
     all sizes and several colors now appear and help to present a chaos
     of beauty.

     "Two hundred feet more and the chamber ends in a vast waterfall,
     but the water has turned to stone. Above the waterfall is an
     opening, but it is twenty-five feet up a smooth wall and we have no
     ladder. The journey was at an end. Tired, wet and muddy, we started
     on our return trip; recrossed the dark lake, and retraced our steps
     to the place under the opening without realizing that we had spent
     six hours under ground. While the other members of the party, and
     the specimens, were being raised to the surface, the writer sought
     to learn the flora and fauna of this new region. The flora is
     blank. Even the white mold so common in many caves is absent; and
     no fungus grows on the poles, bark and rotten wood that have at
     some past time been cast in.

     "In animal life the range is greater. I have mentioned the
     ever-present bats, and dozens of them were seen. There were also
     small, white eyeless salamanders, small, yellow, speckled
     salamanders, with signs of eyes but no sight; also a jet black
     salamander, which like the rest, was blind. The bats were of two
     species--the common brown bat and the larger light grey or yellow
     species. But this was not the time of the year to see many bats in
     caves. In the summer season most of them go out and remain until
     cool weather, and then return to the caves with their young; so I
     was rather surprised to see as many as we did.

     "Down comes the rope for the last time, and taking my place, I soon
     feel myself spinning around and slowly rising. As I again pass the
     magic city I saw going down, a stronger wish than ever takes
     possession of me to go there, and I look for any chance to solve
     the problem of how such a journey can be made. 'Thou art so near
     and yet so far.'

     "Suddenly I find myself emerging from the ground into a very hot
     world, with the evening sun blazing so that the air feels like the
     scorching heat of an oven; and my late companions are scattered
     about under the trees, no doubt wishing themselves back in the cool
     regions below the hot cliffs.

     "My final conclusions in regard to Fairy Cave were that it was
     about six hundred feet long by from fifteen to forty feet wide and
     from eighty to ninety feet high: that in the upper story there are
     rooms that I could not reach, that will amply pay the scientist
     and explorer to investigate in the future: that probably we reached
     all the accessible parts in the level we traveled: that the
     temperature was fifty-six or very near that degree: that small as
     it is, it contains the finest formations and grandest scenery I
     have ever seen in a cave: and I have examined over one hundred of
     various sizes. I believe that for interior beauty its equal is not
     to be found in America, and I sincerely believe that the verdict of
     future exploration will establish the truth of the assertion, but
     as equally good judges differ on such matters, time will be
     required for a true and just decision. There are yet many promising
     caves to be explored in this region, and if my strength holds out a
     few years I hope to see them all.

                                                   "T. S. Powell."


As a measure of consolation for the disappointment of not seeing the
beauty of Fairy Cave, Mr. Irwin suggested that only a quarter of a mile
further on was another, recently discovered and worthy of a visit,
although small.

In that region of steep hills and sharp-edged rocks, a great amount of
travel can be added to the experience of a tender-foot in a short
distance. The quarter of a mile seemed to stretch out in some mysterious
way as we worked on it, but the variety and abundance of attractions are
more than ample compensation.

The view was fine, including as it did the deep ravine and grassy,
wooded slopes rising three hundred feet above, with here and there a
handsome ledge of marble exposed like the nearly buried ruin of a
forgotten temple of some past age. Scattered about in great profusion
among the broken rock on the surface of these hill-sides we observed a
water deposit of iron ore. It is a brown hematite and in some cases
shows the structure of the bits of wood it has replaced. Since this
region has from the earliest time produced a generous growth of
vegetation, the decay of which has yielded a never-failing supply of
acids to assist in carving the caves and then in their decoration, the
presence of the ore is not difficult to account for. The whole Ozark
uplift being rich in iron, the acidulated drainage waters coming into
contact dissolved and took it in solution, to re-deposit where and when
conditions should be favorable. These conditions were found in the basin
among the hills and along its outlet.

In the Popular Science Monthly of January 1897, a short article by J.T.
Donald, entitled "A Curious Canadian Iron Mine," describes the same
thing going on at the present time in Lac a la Tortue, a small body of
water in the center of a tract of swamp land, which produces the
vegetation necessary to supply the acid required for a base of

Of the manner of deposition he says: "The solution of iron in vegetable
acid (in which the iron is in what the chemist calls the form of a
protosalt) is oxidized by the action of the air on the surface of the
lake into a persalt, which is insoluble, and appears on the surface in
patches that display the peculiar iridescence characteristic of
petroleum floating on water. Indeed, not infrequently these films of
peroxide of iron are incorrectly attributed to petroleum. These films
become heavy by addition of new particles; they sink through the water,
and in this manner, in time, a large amount of iron ore is deposited on
the lake bottom. It must not be supposed that the ore is deposited as a
fine mud or sediment. On the contrary, in this lake ore, as it is
called, we have an excellent illustration of what is called
concretionary action--that is, the tendency of matter when in a fine
state of division to aggregate its particles into masses about some
central nucleus, which may be a fragment of sunken wood, a grain of
sand, or indeed a pre-formed small mass of itself."

It is claimed for this water ore, which is gathered like oysters, that
mixed with bog ore and magnetic iron, and smelted with charcoal, the
result as obtained is strong, durable and high priced.

The curiously elastic quarter of a mile finally yielded to persistent
toil, and the cave was reached. The entrance is sufficiently broad to
give a good first impression, and is under a heavy ledge of limestone
which breaks the slope of the hill and is artistically decorated with a
choice collection of foliage, among which is a coral honeysuckle; the
fragrant variety grows everywhere. Under the ledge is a narrow
vestibule, out of the north end of which is a passage about twenty-four
inches in width, between perpendicular walls, and as steeply inclined as
the average dwelling-house stairway but without any assisting
depressions to serve as steps. Mr. Irwin cut a grape vine, and making
one end secure at the entrance, provided a hand rail, by the aid of
which I was able to easily descend the stepless way and afterwards

The first chamber entered is the principal portion of the cave, and by
actual measurement is forty-nine feet in length by forty-eight in
greatest width and the height estimated at fifty feet. On account of
irregularities it appears smaller but higher. On opposite sides of the
chamber, at elevation about midway between the floor and ceiling are two
open galleries. The floor is extremely irregular with its accumulation
of fallen masses of rock, and the action of water has given to portions
of the walls the appearance of pillars supporting the arches of the
roof. The whole aspect is that of a small Gothic chapel. Off to the
northwest is another room measuring thirty feet in each direction, and
out of this are several openings, too small to squeeze through, which
indicate the possible existence of other chambers beyond, but they may
be only drain pipes.

The cave contains no drip formations, notwithstanding which it is one of
the most charming, and when invited to name it I called it Powell Cave,
in honor of the most ardent admirer of caves in that county, and to whom
I am much indebted for valued assistance.


[3] Editor of the county news-paper.




The cave nearest to Galena, and the first visited by us, is Gentry Cave,
situated a mile and a half from town. We started in the mail coach, but
that vehicle met with a misfortune by no means unusual in that region,
the total wreck of a wheel. Having only that morning arrived from the
rich agricultural portion of the State where no surface rock can be
found, we were pleased enough with the prospect of a walk in such
charming spring weather, and set out with a cheerful certainty that the
rough place in the road would soon be passed. But the school of
experience is always open for the reception of new-comers and we were
admitted to full duty without question.

The topography was nearly as broken, in its way, as the natural "piking"
spread over it, and very beautiful with the dense forests lighted by the
slanting yellow rays of the afternoon sun. The way leads up to the
"ridge road" which is at length abandoned for no road at all, and
descending through the forest, more than half the distance down to the
James River flowing at the base of the hill, we come suddenly in view of
the cave entrance, which is probably one of the most magnificent pieces
of natural architecture ever seen.

Rounding a corner by a narrow path, we step onto a covered portico
ninety-seven feet long, with an average width of ten feet. The floor is
smooth and level, as also is the ceiling, which is nine feet above,
supported by handsomely carved pillars and rising in a gray cliff
projecting from the slope of the hill above, out to the brink of the
more abrupt descent to the water's edge ninety feet below. Between the
pillars are three large door-ways into the cave. The comparison
suggested is an Egyptian temple, and the idea is continued within, where
there are no chambers as in other caves; but instead, the entire
interior is a labyrinth of passages winding about in every direction
among an uncounted number of low massive pillars, some supporting a low
ceiling and others connected by high arches, the highest point being
estimated at sixty feet, but appearing to be more, because the enclosed
space rising to a dome is so narrow that the point of view is
necessarily directly underneath.

All exposed surfaces of pillars and walls inside the cave are of clay or
a soft porous rock having the same appearance, and are covered with
curious little raised markings like the indescribable designs of mixed
nothing generally known as "Persian patterns." This is, of course,
easily explained; the clay being the residuum from disintegrated
limestone, the markings described are the harder portions of the rock
remaining after particles of clay had been carried out by flowing water
while the disintegrating process was yet incomplete.

The Drinking Fountain is considered the great attraction of the cave,
and appears to have been fashioned to suggest a model for the handsome
soda fountains belonging to a later period. The water bowl is a large
depression worn in the top of a rock which seems to have been built into
the wall. In front it is five feet high and nine feet across, with
artistic corners approximately alike, and at the back ornamental carving
extends upward towards the ceiling with an opening through the wall at
the center. This opening is divided by a short column down which water
trickles to supply the bowl. The ceiling here is about thirty-five feet
high and most of the exposed surface is a blue-gray limestone. Only one
portion of Gentry Cave has received a deposit of dripstone and even that
is of limited extent, and located at the end of a narrow slippery
passage between high, slippery walls.

The fine entrance is of grey limestone in undisturbed horizontal strata,
and this is so plainly marked in the roof-supporting pillars as to give
them the appearance of having been prepared by skillful hands, in
several blocks, and afterwards arranged in place without the aid of
mortar. Unfortunately, all efforts to photograph this wonderful portico
have failed to give satisfaction--its position above the river being
such as to afford no point for the proper placing of the camera; but a
second visit made for the purpose of trying was far from being a loss,
and part of the reward consisted of finding among the sheltered rocks,
scarcely three feet above the floor, two humming birds' nests with their
treasure of small eggs, and our little companion who discovered them was
pleased to leave them untouched.


The name of this cave is due to the fact that the approach is through a
"hollow" well wooded with sugar maple trees. It is two miles from Galena
and the drive a beautiful one, as much of the way is through the forest
without a road, but with a charming little rushing, crooked stream of
clear, cold water: and in places the green slopes give way to mural
bluffs of grey limestone in undisturbed strata.

The entrance to the cave is through a hole about two feet high by three
in width, into which we went feet first and wiggled slowly down an
incline covered with broken rock, for a distance of fifteen feet, where
a standing depth is reached. A flat, straight, level ceiling extends
over the whole cave without any perceptible variation, and this is
bordered around its entire length and breadth with a heavy cornice of
dripstone, made very ornamental by the forms it assumes, and the
multitude of depending stalactites that fall as a fringe around the
walls. The line of contact between the cornice and ceiling is as clear
and strong as if both had been finished separately before the cornice
was put in place by skillful hands.

Dripstone covers the walls, which vary in height from one foot to twenty
feet, according to the irregularities of the floor, just as the width of
this one-room cave varies with the curves of the walls, which are
sweeping and graceful, the average being twenty-nine feet, but is much
greater at the entrance where the entire slope extends out beyond the
body of the cave. The length, from north to south, measures two hundred
and thirty-three feet exclusive of an inaccessible extension.

The south end of the cave rises by a steep slope to within a foot of the
ceiling with which it is connected by short but heavy columns of
dripstone, and another line of pillars of graduated height meets this
at right angles near the middle and ends in an immense stalagmite that
stands at the foot of the slope like a grand newel post.

There is no standing water in the cave, but everything is wet with drip,
and consequently the formation of onyx is actively progressing and the
south slope already mentioned shows a curious succession of changes in
cave affairs. By the slow action of acidulated waters, the grey
limestone deteriorated into a yellowish clay-bank, and now its particles
are being re-united into solid rock by the deposit of calcium carbonate
from the drip.

A careful test of the temperature of the atmosphere showed it to be
fifty-eight degrees.


This also is a small cave easily visited from Galena, being less than
two miles distant on the Marionville road. The entrance faces the road
and is on the same level, consequently it is one of the easiest to
visit. Just within is seen an opening in the ceiling, which we are told
is one of the two ways to an upper chamber whose chief attraction is a
dripstone piano, and the means of ascending is at hand in the form of a
Spanish ladder; but an attempt of that sort might even cause the new
woman to hesitate, and who hesitates is lost. The ascent was not made.
We advanced on a level with the road for a distance of perhaps twenty
feet, when the direction of the cave changed with a right angular turn
and we were in a straight gallery about two hundred and fifty feet long
and fifteen feet in width, the height gradually decreasing to about
three feet towards the upper end, where it widened out into a low but
broad chamber. The floor of this chamber is most beautiful. It is
composed of a series of connected calcite bowls whose beautifully fluted
rims are of regular and uniform height, and all are equally filled with
clear, still water. A great number of these basins are said to have been
destroyed by an ax in the hands of a poor witless creature for the
gratification of a burst of temper, and a magnificent stalagmitic
column, too heavy for one man to lift, lay detached and broken, in proof
that his body did not share the feebleness of his mind.

Beyond these basins is a low passage through which is found the second
entrance to the upper chamber, but the basins must be crossed in order
to reach it, and this is not an easy undertaking even when their water
supply is low, but in the early summer they are almost full.

There are said to be more than one hundred caves in Stone County, one of
which is supposed to be fully as large as Marble Cave, if not larger,
and is located in the southern part of the county but has not been

Mill Cave is in the northeast of the county, and at the entrance is a
saw mill which receives its working power from the cave stream. Inside
the cave there is a lake.

Hermit's Cave is a few miles from Galena, and is so named on account of
having been used as a dwelling by its former owner, who kept a coffin in
which he intended to place himself before the final summons, but was
overtaken by death in the forest and it was never used. He wrote sermons
on the rocks in his cave and one of these was afterwards removed.

Wolf's Den is also near Galena, and has been utilized as a sheep fold.

Wild Man's Cave is near Galena, and on account of the stories with which
people have been frightened, can only be visited by permission and with
a guard stationed at the entrance.

Reynard's Cave is four miles west of Galena on the farm of Dr. Fox, but
is so nearly filled up with dripstone that only crawling room remains.
The doctor's place is a fine locality for the collection of fossils.

At a distance of twelve miles from Galena there is said to be a fine
natural bridge, well worth a visit and sufficiently near Mill Cave for
both to be seen on the same trip.

In Bread Tray Mountain there is supposed to be a cave through which a
torrent rushes at times, that being the only way in which to explain the
strange thundering, roaring noise always heard after a storm, and never
at other times.

Besides being a wonderful cave region, and rich in the great abundance
and variety of native fruits and fine timber, Stone County has a vast
amount of mineral wealth, the heaviest deposits being zinc, lead and
iron, with some indications of silver, gold and copper, which have been
found but not in paying quantity. Already since the summer of 1896
several exceptionally pure bodies of zinc have been discovered, the
white ore of one recently opened deposit giving highly gratifying
indications as to extent. Prospecting may be said to have only commenced
in this very far from over-crowded region.




Oregon County is also at the extreme southern limit of the State of
Missouri and was visited, not because its caves are supposed to be
either finer or more numerous than those of all the other Ozark
counties, but on account of remarkable attractions associated with them
that are not known to be equaled, or even subject to rivalry, by any
similar works of nature in any portion of the world.

The most convenient railway point is Thayer; the station hotel affords
comfortable accommodations for headquarters, and the last days of
September proved a charming time. The foliage was in full summer glory,
refreshed by a gentle and copious rain, and the insinuating tick had
already retired from active business until the following season.

The carriage having been ordered on condition of its being a clear day,
we left Thayer at eight o'clock on a perfect morning to visit Greer
Spring, and were soon in the depth of the beautiful Ozark forest, from
which we did not once emerge until Alton, the county seat, was reached,
the distance traveled being sixteen miles. Here we stopped for dinner at
the small hotel kept by one of the old-time early settlers who came to
the region before the war. The dinner was a surprise, and received the
highest commendation possible to a dinner, the hearty appreciation of a
boy. A young nephew, Arthur J. Owen, having been invited to act as
escort on the trip, found all the varied experience in cave hunting
fully equal to the pictured joys of anticipation. After a large bell
suspended somewhere outside had notified the business public that dinner
was ready to be served, we were invited to the dining-room, where on a
long table was the abundance of vegetables afforded by the season and
soil of an almost tropical state, and cooked as the white-capped chef of
the great hotel, where the warm weeks were spent, had not learned the
secret of; and the delicately fried chicken was not of that curious
variety, commonly encountered by travelers, in which the development of
legs robs the centiped of his only claim to distinction. As the dishes
cooled they were removed and fresh supplies brought in.

Our driver received directions about the road and we started on another
drive of seven miles. These directions were "to follow the main road to
the forks, and then keep to the Van Buren road and any one could tell
us where Captain Greer lives."

The road was, as before, through the park-like forest, and as before,
lay chiefly along the ridge, so that where clearings had been made for
farms there were fine views over the distant country, which everywhere
was forest-covered hills, of a rich green near at hand but changing with
the growth of distance, first to dark, and then to lighter blue.

In these forests were fine young cattle and horses, and uncounted
numbers of "razorbacks," or as they are otherwise called,
"wind-splitters." For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with
the names, it might be well to explain that they are the natural heirs
of the native wild hog of Missouri and Arkansas. The nephew was greatly
amused at seeing many of them with wooden yokes on their long necks, to
prevent an easy entrance into fields and gardens by squeezing through
the spaces between fence rails. These animals are such swift runners it
is said they can safely cross the railroad between trucks of the fast
express. Their snouts are so long and thin, it is also claimed that two
can drink from a jug at the same time; never having seen it done,
however, this is not vouched for, but merely repeated as hearsay.

[Illustration: Wilderness Pinery, Oregon Co. Page 84.]

After a time we stopped to inquire the way of an old man dipping water
from a pond by the roadside. He told us he was dipping water to wash
the wheat he was sowing in the field just over the fence, and that we
reach the forks, then to keep the Van Buren road, pass two houses on the
left, a white one on the right, another on the left and then inquire the
way--anyone could tell us, and Captain Greer would show us to the
Spring, "for he is a mighty accommodating man."

On we went to the forks where in the point of the Y stood a large tree
with a Van Buren sign-board on one side, and in the direction it
pointed, we turned, although rather reluctantly, for it looked little
used and rocky, while the other was in good condition; but we followed
the sign-board and had no misgivings until it began to be realized that
a great deal of time was being passed but no houses. The morning had
been very chilly, but now the atmosphere was just at that balmy point
between warm and cool that makes mere living an unqualified luxury; and
added to this we soon found ourselves in a deep cañon no less beautiful
than the justly celebrated North Cheyenne Cañon near Colorado Springs.

There was now no doubt that we were on the wrong road, but such
magnificence was unexpected and not to be turned from with indifference.

For some distance the road makes a gradual and rather perilous looking
descent along the steep and broken slope on the shady side of the
ancient river's great retaining-wall, while that opposite is glorified
by the brilliant glow of the afternoon sun, which adds an equal charm to
the rich, luxuriant foliage below and the tall stately pines that adorn,
without concealing, the grey rock they proudly cling to, or that rises
in a protecting rampart three hundred feet higher than the cañon bed,
with banners of the long-needled pine waving above to proclaim the
perfection of Nature's undisturbed freedom.

The road descending crosses the thread of water still flowing among the
great rounded bowlders left by the former torrent, and our view is
changed to one of dense, but by no means melancholy, shadows, with a
crown of golden sunlight; and presently the course of the cañon turns to
the east, and it is all filled with the yellow rays and we notice the
bright red hawthorn berries, and masses of hydrangea still showing
remnants of their late profusion of bloom. We Missourians have a great
love of fine scenery and generally take long journeys into other states
in order to gratify the taste, while quite unconscious of the wonderful
beauty and grandeur of the Ozarks.

Where the cañon begins to broaden into a small sheltered valley as it
approaches Eleven Points River, we turned and retraced our way to the
forks, and a short distance beyond to a house where we might again
inquire. A woman came to the open door as we stopped and in answer to a
question said: "You ought to have asked me when you passed here a while

Apologies for the seeming neglect were offered and accepted, then she
explained that both roads went to Van Buren but not to Greer Spring,
where in due time we at length arrived.

The house being in one corner of a "forty" and the spring in that
diagonally opposite, there was a walk of nearly that distance before
coming to an old road inclining steeply down into what looked to be a
narrow cañon. About midway of this sloping road, the space confined
between perpendicular walls, rising to heights above on one side and
descending to the stream on the other, widens suddenly and a picturesque
old mill comes into view, it having been wholly screened from the
approach by the rich growth of shrubs and trees. Chief in abundance
among this luxury of leaf was the hydrangea,--a favorite shrub largely
imported into this country from Japan before it was discovered as a
native. The mill site seems to have been selected for its beauty
although we were told that at this point the stream is seventy-two feet
wide, and two and one half feet deep, but could be raised thirty feet
with perfect safety by a dam, for which the rock is already on the
ground and much of it broken ready for use. The flow is said to be two
hundred and eighty yards per minute, with no appreciable variation, and
never freezes. The high walls of the Greer Spring gorge will, of course,
far more than double the value it would otherwise possess, when it
becomes desirable to control and turn to practical account the power now
going so cheerily to waste, but the artistic loss will be
proportionately severe.

The old mill was the scene of great activity in former times, but was
closed on account of an unfortunate accident and for years has had no
other duty than simply to serve as a portion of the landscape.

Just beyond, the cañon makes a curving bend, the road dwindles to a
narrow path and we behold the most beautiful scene imaginable.

The cañon has come to an end and is shut in by a graceful curve of the
high, perpendicular grey walls that are crowned with trees and shrubs,
and decked below with a thick carpet of bright green moss. In this
basin, which is nearly one hundred feet across, Greer Spring plunges up
from beneath through an opening nine feet in diameter, in the midst of a
pool of water six feet deep, and having an unvarying temperature of
forty-nine degrees throughout the year. This water is so perfectly clear
that not the least pebble is obscured from view, and the color scheme is
most marvelous.

[Illustration: Greer Spring. Page 88.]

Where the great spring forces its way to the surface, the water is a
deep, brilliant blue with white caps, and its falling weight keeps clear
of moss a large spot of fine, pure, white sandstone, while all the
balance appears a vivid green from the moss that thrives beneath the
moving water; and surrounding these are the handsome, foliage-decked
grey walls. The edges of the basin are thickly strewn with fallen rocks
deeply covered with moss, in which small ferns are growing, and on these
gay stepping stones we crossed to the head-wall of the cañon to find
ourselves at the open mouth of a cave from which flows a clear, shallow
stream to join the waters of the Spring in that wonderful basin. The
entrance to the cave is an arch about fifteen feet wide and twelve feet
high, with the clear, shallow stream spreading over the clean rock floor
from side to side. Here now was presented a difficulty. Truly the cave
was _not_ quite dry. The water was about ten inches deep, and my boots
in Thayer. Contrary to advice, however, my nephew had brought his, and
with a boy's kindness loaned them while he made the trip with bare feet
and rolled up trousers.

A short distance within, the cave widens and the floor of the extension
being somewhat higher, is dry, but the roof drops so low over it that
the water-course is an easier route of travel; and this soon widens
into a lake above which the ceiling rises in a broad dome less than
twenty feet in height, and hung with heavy masses of dripstone draperies
of varying length, from five to seven feet; and all the ceilings are
fringed at various heights with stalactites of every size and age, some
being a clear, colorless onyx, while others proclaim their great age in
the fact that they have so deteriorated that the onyx texture is either
partly or completely lost, and what was once a pure drip crystal has
returned to a common, porous, dull-colored limestone so soft that
portions can be rubbed to powder in the hand.

Picking the way carefully as the depth of the lovely lake increased, we
followed the sound of falling water and peered into the dark distance in
a vain effort to see it, yet expecting to reach that special object of
interest by keeping to the shallower parts of the lake. These
expectations were shattered suddenly when the boots filled with water,
and that called to mind the fact that twenty-three miles and a chilly
night lay between us and dry clothing; so we returned to the outside
world and rested on the rocks where Captain Greer and our young driver
waited for us. The cave has never been fully explored, and probably we
penetrated farther than others have ever done, as the owner knew
nothing of the falling water we so distinctly heard and were surely very

The view from the rocks is wonderfully beautiful and includes both the
entrance to the cave, with its flowing stream, and the receiving basin
with its bounding stream. But it was growing late in the afternoon, and
there was another cave whose entrance was in the perpendicular wall
above the end of the path by which we had come. This entrance could be
reached by a dilapidated ladder; assisted by a forked pole and supplied
with candles and matches, my nephew and I achieved the ascent with not
much trouble. Here we found what is, no doubt, one of the oldest caves

The original cavity is nearly filled up with masses of onyx--colorless
crystal and white striped with pale shades of grey. The cave is
perfectly dry and freshly broken surfaces in some places show signs of
deterioration, so how can we venture even a guess as to the time it has
required to first excavate the cave and then fill it with masses of rock
deposited by the slow drip process, and later, for that crystalline rock
in a now dry atmosphere to present a perceptible weakening? We went as
far as passages could be crawled into, which was no great distance, and
at once started on our uncertain descent of the ladder; but this was not
a matter of so much concern as the upward trip, for the success of
which some doubts were entertained; for going down is always naturally a
less certain matter, as one can fall if more desirable means are
unsuccessful, and I have unexpectedly reached many coveted points in
this simple manner.

Taking a last look at Greer Spring with its cave river, grey walls, gay
with foliage, and all the harmony of color and form combined in the
narrow cañon that was once the main body of a great cave, I recalled
views on the Hudson River and in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia and
Pennsylvania, and others out in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and the
Wausatch in Utah, but amid all their wonderful grandeur and famous
beauty, could remember no spot superior to this masterpiece of the

The proprietor of the Spring and a thousand acres of land adjacent, took
personal possession on the day of Lincoln's first election, to establish
a home.

The sun having failed to consider our wishes was now about to disappear
in a gleaming flood of gold, so the return to Thayer that night was out
of the question. Our host and his wife observed that fact and cordially
invited us to remain for the night and as much longer as we would like
to, but being unwilling to impose on kindness to such an extent, we
returned to the hotel in Alton, and now urgently advise that those who
ever have an opportunity to enjoy a moonlight drive through the Ozark
forests should not let it pass unimproved.


About twelve miles from Alton there are three other caves worthy of
attention. Two of these are known only as The Saltpetre Caves, and the
third as The Bat Cave.

Not many persons care to visit the Bat Cave, for although its
inhabitants are small, they have evidently decided to profit by the
experience of the Red Man and take no risks through hospitality. Their
warnings can be heard like distant thunder for some distance outside the
cave, and any unheeding intruder is set upon in fury by such vast
numbers of the little creatures that his only safety is in hasty

During the war the two Saltpetre Caves were worked to a considerable
extent, and also served as safe retreats for the residents of the
region, as well as the visiting "Jonny," when the vicinity became
oppressively "blue."

Both of these caves are especially notable on account of the fine
stalactites with which they are abundantly supplied; most of them being
snow white and from fourteen to twenty feet in length.

Unfortunately, most of the caves in this region have been deprived of
great quantities of their beautiful adornments by visitors who are
allowed to choose the best and remove it in such quantities as may suit
their convenience and pleasure. Those who own the caves, and those who
visit them, would do well to remember that if all the natural adornment
should be allowed to remain in its original position, it would continue
to afford pleasure to many persons for an indefinite time; but if
broken, removed, and scattered the pleasure to a few will be
comparatively little and that short-lived. The gift of beauty should
always be honored and protected for the public good.

We were not so fortunate as to discover fossils of any kind in this
locality, although the search was by no means thorough; but even if it
had been the result might have been the same, since that county and
others adjoining have been mapped as Cambrian. The greater part of the
exposed rock is a fine sandstone almost as white as gypsum on a fresh
fracture, and much of it is ripple-marked so as to show a beautifully
fluted surface of remarkable regularity. These ripple flutings are
sometimes more than an inch in width, and often less, but the variations
never appear on the same level, the smallest being seen on the hill-tops
and the larger outcropping on the downward slopes.



Oregon County, Missouri, is also fortunate in having within its limits
the Grand Gulf, which has been declared by competent judges to be one of
the wonders of the world; and it offers a combination of attractions
that certainly entitles it to an important place among a limited few of
America's choicest scenes.

The Gulf is nearly nine miles northwest of Thayer, Missouri, and about
equally distant from Mammoth Spring in Arkansas, just a little south of
the Missouri state line. The drive is a pleasant one, as the road winds
among the forest-clad hills and passes occasional fields of cotton and
corn; but having been macadamized in very ancient times by the original
and all-powerful general government of that early period is somewhat
rough, yet threatens no danger greater than the destruction of wheels.

The only approach to the Gulf is over the hill-tops; and the entrance in
past times, while it was still a cave, must have been a sink-hole in the
roof of the largest chamber. This chamber is now the upper end of the
Grand Gulf, and into it we descended by a rugged path, sufficiently
difficult to maintain expectations of grandeur that are not doomed to
disappointment. The precipitous walls, two hundred feet in height, bear
a faithful record of the energy of circling floods; but instead of
frowning, as some good people persistently accuse all noble heights of
doing, they seem to look with conscious pride towards the windings of
the great rough chasm, where every available spot has been seized on as
a homestead for some form of vegetation. All the great, dark rock masses
that interfere with easy progress along the lowest depth, were
surrounded by a feathery setting of blooming white agaratum; and each
turn in the winding course reveals new charms of rock and verdure with
their varying lights and shadows until the crowning glory is reached at
the Natural Bridge, about twelve hundred feet from the upper end of the
cañon. This bridge is magnificent. It was impossible to secure
photographs because the abrupt curve by which it is approached gave no
point of view for a small camera; and it was equally impossible to reach
desirable points for taking measurements, but the open arch is not less
than twenty feet wide and considerably more than that in height. From
the floor or bed of the Gulf to the road that crosses the bridge is more
than two hundred feet. The passage under the bridge makes a curve, the
shortest side of which measures exactly two hundred and nineteen feet,
and as the width varies from twenty to forty feet, the other side is
longer. Most of the floor is flat and level as also is the ceiling, the
greatest irregularities being along the wall of greater length which
shows at what points the rushing water has spent its force. No water
flows through here now except in times of heavy rainfall. The other end
of the bridge has a somewhat smaller span but is very handsome, and the
outward views from both are exceedingly fine. After traversing about
four hundred feet more of the beautiful, high-walled Gulf, we stood
before the grand entrance to the cave, which is strikingly similar to
the first arch of the bridge. The only picture I was able to get was
taken from the slope of the Bridge-crown, one hundred feet below the
road, and merely gives a suggestion of the magnificence waiting
peacefully for the crowds of eager and enthusiastic sight-seers who will
in the near future rush to this charming region in the "Land of the Big
Red Apple."

My companions were the same as mentioned in the preceding chapter, a
nephew, James Arther Owen, and an obliging, tall young man of twenty,
who acted as guide and driver.

Relieving ourselves of all superfluous burdens just within the cave
entrance, we lighted candles and sat down to wait for our eyes to
adjust themselves to the changed condition, from brilliant sunlight to
absolute darkness, broken only by the feeble strength of three candles.
It was noticeable that in the moist atmosphere of the Missouri caves,
three candles were not more than equal to one in the dry caves of South

Very soon we were able to continue the inspection of our surroundings,
and the large passage we were in would more properly be called a long
chamber, of irregular width but averaging about thirty feet. This ends
abruptly nearly five hundred feet from the entrance, but a small passage
scarcely more than six feet high runs off at right angles, and into this
we turn. It is not quite so nearly dry as the outer chamber, and at a
distance of less than one hundred feet we suddenly come to the end of
dry land at an elbow of the silently flowing river whose channel we had
almost stepped into. The ceiling dipped so we were not able to stand
straight, and the guide said he had never gone farther; but to his
surprise here was a light boat which I am ready to admit he displayed no
eagerness to appropriate to his own use, and swimming about it, close to
shore, were numerous small, eyeless fish, pure white and perfectly
fearless; the first I had ever seen, and little beauties.

By burning magnesium ribbon we saw that the passage before us was a low
arch and occupied from wall to wall by water, the direction of the flow
being into another of somewhat greater size at right angles to that by
which we had come, and at the mouth of this lay the boat. The distance
we could see in either direction was of tantalizing shortness, and the
boat was provided with no means of guidance or control, save an
abundance of slender twine which secured it to a log of drift from the
outside; so I decided to leave my companions in charge of the main coil
of twine while I went on an excursion alone, there being not much
evident cause for apprehension as no living cow could ever have made the
trip to this favored spot.

Although the water looked perfectly placid, the boat drifted with
surprising speed, so that the two scared faces peering after me were
soon lost sight of. The channel was nowhere more than six feet wide,
consequently as the boat inclined to drive against either wall I was
able with care to keep it off the rocks with my hands, and in the same
way guide it around the sharp turns in safety. After several of these
turns there appeared the mouth of a passage so much smaller that the
roof was only twelve inches above the sides of the boat and I could
touch both walls at the same time. By running the boat across this it
was held in place by the current, and I could sit at ease and enjoy the
position, which even the least imaginative person can readily conceive
to have been a novel one.

The small eyeless fish had been noticeable in the water everywhere but
now came swimming about the boat in an astonishing multitude, and as
unconscious of any possible danger as bees in a flower garden. Having no
eyes, they were naturally undisturbed by the light, so the candle could
be held close to the water for a satisfactory examination of the happy

They bore a striking resemblance to minnows, although a few were larger,
and it is claimed that four or five inches are sizes not unusual, but
they happened not to be on exhibition. Even dipping a hand into the
water in their midst occasioned no alarm, and they might have been
caught by dozens.

The guide now loudly called that he had fears of the twine being cut on
the sharp edges of rock, and that cutting off all possibility of the
boat's return, which being sufficiently reasonable, explorations were
indefinitely suspended, and a landing soon made. The camera and
flash-light were then prepared for taking a view, and a point of light
being needed to work by the nephew was asked to sit in the boat with his
candle, to which he readily consented; but judging from the developed
picture it may be doubted if his pleasure at the time was extremely

On leaving the cave the guide said it would not be necessary to return
to the upper end of the Gulf in order to reach the surface, as the
ascent could be made in another place; and leading the way to the left
of the entrance he started up the nearly perpendicular wall, more than
two hundred feet high, by a sort of "blind trail" that would have caused
a mountain sheep to sigh for wings, but it was very beautiful.

We walked over to the wagon road on the high ridge above the middle of
the bridge and going down the forest-clad slopes to the perpendicular
wall in which is the smaller of the great arches, admired from this fair
point of view the marvelous grandeur of one of the greatest natural

The weather being perfect after a rain the day before, there was no need
of haste to get indoors, so we lingered into the afternoon and then
drove to the Mammoth Spring, in Arkansas, a short distance south of the
Missouri state line, where the Cave River, just visited, comes to the
surface in a bounding spring of great force. The distance being little
less than nine miles.

The basin filled by the Spring might be called a lake, as its size of
two hundred by three hundred feet gives it that appearance, and the
color is a remarkable deep blue. The volume of water is so nearly
uniform that the height seldom varies more than two or three inches,
but three years ago a storm of unusual violence carried out most of the
native fish, and in restocking from Government supplies, the clear, cold
water suggested an experiment with mountain trout which are found to be
doing well.

Where Mammoth Spring flows out its power is utilized by a flour mill on
one bank and a cotton mill on the other, and the water flowing on forms
Spring River, well known for the charm of its beautiful scenery.

This Spring is described by Dr. David Dale Owen in his First Report of a
Geological Reconnoissance of the northern counties of Arkansas, 1857 and
1858, pp. 60-61.



In order to thoroughly appreciate and enjoy the wonderful caves of South
Dakota, which are found within the limits of the Black Hills, it is
necessary to have some knowledge of the geological character and history
of that peculiar region.

Prof. J.E. Todd, State Geologist, in his "Preliminary Report on the
Geology of South Dakota," gives an interesting "Historical Sketch of
Explorations" in his state, beginning with the expedition of Captains
Lewis and Clark to the upper Missouri regions in 1804-6 to explore that
portion of the recent Louisiana Purchase for the government and notify
the Indians of the transfer; and including all other important
expeditions since that time down to his own official tour of the Black
Hills and Bad Lands in 1894. His own descriptions are so concise and
graphic as to invite quotation. Of the Hills he says:

"The Black Hills have an area of five-thousand square miles of a rudely
elliptical form with its major axis, approximately, north-northwest.
Most of this area lies within our state. The true limit of the Hills is
quite distinctly marked by a sharp ridge of sandstone, three hundred to
six hundred feet in relative height, which becomes broader and more
plateau-like towards the north and south ends. This ridge is separated
from the higher mass of hills within by a valley one to three miles in
breadth, which is known as the Red Valley, from its brick-red soil, or
the 'race course,' which name was given it by the Indians because of its
open and smooth character, affording easy and rapid passage around the
Hills. The junction of the outer base of the Hills with the surrounding
table lands has an altitude of three thousand, five hundred to four
thousand feet. Within this Red Valley one gradually ascends the outer
slope of the Hills and soon enters, at an altitude of four thousand five
hundred or five thousand feet, the woody portion of the region. This
outer slope varies greatly in width and is underlaid by older
sedimentary rocks, cut in almost every direction by narrow deep cañons.
This feature covers nearly the whole of the western half of the Hills
proper, where erosion has been less active on account of its distance
from the main channels of drainage. Usually, from the broken interior
edge of this slope or sedimentary plateau one descends a bluff or
escarpment, and enters the central area of slates, granite, and
quartzites, which is carved into high ridges and sharp peaks cut by many
narrow and deep valleys and ravines and generally thickly timbered with
the common pine of the Rocky Mountains. Toward the south, about Harney
Peak, the surface is peculiarly rugged and difficult to traverse. Toward
the north, also, about Terry and Custer peaks, a smaller rugged surface
appears; but in the central area between and extending west of the
Harney range is a region which is characterized by open and level parks
much lower than the surrounding peaks and ridges."

The Archæan rocks which form the core of the Hills mark the center of
the various uplifts which have attended their formation and controlled
their history. The coarse granite of Harney Peak indicating that, as the
central point of the earliest upheaval, and the three porphyries known
as rhyolite, trachyte, and phonolite, showing the uplifts of later
periods to have had their centers a little more to the north, but the
entire area is said to be only about sixty miles long and twenty-five
miles in width. It is exceptionally rough and mountainous, and
consequently has great charms for the lover of fine scenery. Erosion has
only partially denuded the peaks of the sedimentary rocks through which
they were thrust up, or by which they were overlaid during the earlier
part of several subsequent periods of submersion. The Hills, in these
remote times, led but a doubtful and precarious existence, being now an
isolated island rising out of a shallow sea, and then, owing to a
general subsidence, submerged in the ocean to so great a depth that even
Harney Peak is supposed to have almost, if not entirely, disappeared.
This up and down motion continued at intervals until the Fox Hills epoch
of the Cretaceous Age, at the close of which the sea retired forever
from that portion of the country. In the next epoch fresh water work
began and extensive marshes were formed, with an abundant growth of
vegetation and reptiles. There was also much volcanic violence which
resulted in the fine scenery in the north end of the Black Hills, and
probably opened the fissures to form Wind Cave, the Onyx Caves in the
southern hills and Crystal Cave near the eastern edge toward the north.
This was near the close of the Cretaceous Age. But here is a point on
which the best authorities who have studied the porphyry peaks, have
failed to agree; Prof. N.H. Winchell believing that the intrusion
occurred, probably, during the Jura Trias, but as Cretaceous beds, of
more recent date, are found to have been distorted by the outflow, it
seems that Professors Todd, Newton and Carpenter hold the stronger
position and that the later time is correct.

No record of the next geological stage, which was the Eocene, or earlier
part of the Tertiary Age, has been found in the Hills, because they were
at that time dry land with gently flowing, shallow streams, and
consequently no strata were laid down; but they are supposed, through
later evidences, to have had a tropical climate and vegetation, enjoyed
by large animals of strange new forms. The volume of fresh water
afterwards became so great that immense lakes spread over large portions
of the west, one of which occupied most of the region around the Black
Hills at the beginning of the Miocene, and animal life was more abundant
than ever before and of higher orders, many species being the same as
are now in existence. The weather became more and more inclement and as
the storms increased the erosion of the Hills also increased, and the
rivers changed to torrents with deep channels. Earthquakes are supposed
to have occurred and also volcanic eruptions.

The Black Hills were now rising steadily, and as the slope of the
streams increased, the channels cut deeper, and the fissures now known
as caves had long been filled with water.

The most important of the numerous animals of the Tertiary Age yet
discovered in the Hills and surrounding region, are the Titanotherium or
Brontotherium, similar to our Hippopotamus, the Oreodon, and a small
horse having three toes on each foot. A little later in the same Age
the horses were similar to those of the present time and of equal size,
which proves that the wild horses of the West were not descended from
the few lost by the Spanish Invaders. At this time the first lions,
camels, mastodons, and mammoths also appeared. The remains of these
animals are so abundant in places as to indicate that they perished in
herds that were overwhelmed suddenly by great floods, and many, no
doubt, huddled together and perished with cold; for with the beginning
of the present age the Hills had reached their highest elevation, the
inclement weather increased, and the tropical climate suddenly changed
to one extremely cold. It was the beginning of the Glacial Period or Ice
Age, when a large portion of the United States is supposed to have been
covered by a sheet of ice. The ice is believed to have entered South
Dakota from the northeast and its drift across the state limited by a
line so closely following the present course of the Missouri River that
many of us would be inclined to consider it the western bluff. Beyond
this line the ice failed to push its way, but the Hills were subject to
heavy rain storms that filled the streams and carried large quantities
of bowlders and other eroded material, both coarse and fine, down into
the valleys and over the lower hills, where much of the moderately
coarse can now be seen exposed on the surface, and fine specimens
collected without the use of a hammer. The brilliantly colored, striped
and mottled agates, and the bright, delicate tints of the quartz
crystal, are particularly attractive to the majority of visitors. The
beauty of these gaily colored rocks is quite extensively utilized by the
inhabitants of the southern and southeastern hills to supply the place
of growing plants which are generally denied by the inconvenience of the
water supply. The quartzite of the Hills is well crystallized and heavy.
I have one beautiful specimen of the dark Indian red variety through
which passes a narrow line of pale blue, and the yellow quartzite or
jasper sometimes shows dendrite markings. Very great quantities of
agates and jasper, mostly in small pieces, but unlimited variety, are to
be seen in portions of the Bad Lands, south of the fork of the Cheyenne
River, with an almost equal abundance of baculites and numerous other

The wide expanse of deep ravines and sharp, barren ridges in the Bad
Lands is a unique departure from the usual phases of natural scenery
that inspire interest and wonder, but no great admiration, until one
soon learns that the law of compensation has been strictly observed. The
beauty of vegetation denied those desolate buttes and ridges is atoned
for by a marvelous abundance of most wonderful crystals of aragonite,
calcite, barite and satin spar; each to itself, or two or more combined
in beautiful geodes or else arranged in great flat slabs crystallized on
both sides of a thin sheet of lime. These slabs are composed of crystals
of uniform size and of a pale green tint. But the geodes show some
striking combinations of both crystals and colors with an exterior
formed like box work, composed of a very heavy dark material said to be
a mixture of barium, calcium and iron. The interior may be a bright
green or lemon yellow, or perhaps the two in combination, while others
yet may be either of these varieties with the addition of flat crystals
of almost transparent satin spar. These crystals also occur in masses of
the same box-like formation rising just so much above the surface of the
barren ridge they occupy as to give it the appearance of a prairie dog
town. One hill-top over which an abundance of detached crystals, of the
palest water-green tint, has been spread, gave the impression of being
covered with crushed ice. This transformation from a richly tropical to
a marvelously barren region, was accomplished during the time when
storms reigned over the Hills and ice ruled the country to the north and

The long slender barite crystals of a bright golden brown color are
especially beautiful but are generally seen in the specimen stores, as
the deposit is confined to limited areas and the few persons familiar
with the locations are not over anxious to introduce the general public.

The fossil remains previously referred to are of course only a few of
the most important, but it is remarked as a curious and notable fact
that among the fossils of the lower orders of life in the Bad Lands, the
heads have not been preserved. On account of scarcity of water it is
necessary for parties to carry a supply even when they expect to be in
the vicinity of the Cheyenne River and probably ford the South fork, as
these waters carry in solution a quantity of alkali that renders them
unfit for drinking, although the effects would not be fatal but simply
the extreme reverse of pleasant.

No caves have been discovered in the Bad Lands, unless that name be
applied to some of the geodes which are really grottoes, they being of
sufficient size for a man to stand in. The Black Hills, however, contain
some of the most remarkable caves ever yet discovered, of which those of
greatest importance are Wind Cave and the three Onyx Caves near Hot
Springs, in the southeastern part of the Hills, and Crystal Cave near
Piedmont, in the northeast. All of these occur in the Carboniferous
Limestone which forms an outer belt around the central mass or core of
the Hills and no doubt, as previously suggested, owes its fissures to
earthquakes which preceded or accompanied the porphyry intrusions by
which in some localities its strata have been thrown into a vertical



Wind Cave was discovered in 1881 by a hunter named Thomas Bingham, who
being weary of a fruitless chase sat down to rest, and was soon startled
by the sound of rushing wind on a calm day; and at the same time by a
singular hair-raising sensation, as his hat was lifted from his head and
thrown high in the air. He is said to have afterwards declared that
although frightened nearly out of his wits, he determined to find the
cause of his alarm, and on turning slightly discovered a hole about
eight by twelve inches in size through which a roaring wind was issuing
from the earth. As his hair maintained the aggressive attitude taken,
the recovered hat could not be returned to its usual place, so an hour
was spent in laying it across the opening and watching its instant
projection into upper space; after which he set out to tell of the
wonderful discovery. The announcement, however, was not received
seriously and he was assured of the impossibility of the wind blowing
through a hill of solid rock, and his brother explained to him that he
had been too self-indulgent and consequently imagined the whole affair.
A protest of total abstinence failed to inspire confidence, but the
brother promised to go the next day to see for himself, and did. The hat
was again placed over the opening as before, but instead of taking the
expected lofty flight, it was drawn in and has never since been seen:
the current had reversed. Soon after this the hole was enlarged to
eighteen by thirty inches and the cave entered by quite a number of
venturesome persons assisted by a long rope and ample personal courage.
No other improvements were made, and only a short distance was explored,
until Mr. J.D. McDonald settled on the property in 1890; since which
time he and his sons have explored ninety-seven miles of passage and
done such extensive work in opening up small passages and placing
ladders, that it is now possible for visitors to travel long distances
with surprising ease and comfort. The measure of distances in the cave
is not by the usual guess-work method which has established the
short-measure reputation for cave miles, but is done with a fair degree
of accuracy by means of the twine used to mark the trail in exploring
new passages. A careful measurement of the twine has shown it to run
nine balls to the mile with a close average of regularity, so it is the
custom to add another mile to the cave record as often as a ninth ball
becomes exhausted.

Wind Cave is twelve miles north of Hot Springs by a good road which
offers somewhat meager attractions to the artist, but is more liberal
towards the geologist, and especially so in fine exposures of the gypsum
bearing Red Beds of the Triassic. Limited patches of it are also exposed
in each of the caves, generally carrying small quantities of selenite,
which is crystallized gypsum, or in other words, crystallized sulphate
of lime. This brilliant red color is so prominent in portions of the
Hills, and attracts so much wondering attention in other well known
regions of the West, that it would seem an unpardonable neglect of
opportunity should we fail to again quote Prof. Todd for an explanation
of the cause of the vivid coloring. Commencing he says: "Newton remarks
concerning this:[4] 'A large percentage of peroxide of iron in the red
beds, to which they owe their bright red color, bears an interesting
relation to the absence of fossils. The material of which sediments are
formed is derived, by the various processes of denudation, from the
rocks of older land surfaces. Whatever iron they contain is dissolved
from the land and transported in a condition of protoxide and some proto
salt, such as the carbonate, and the process is facilitated by the
presence of carbonic acid in the water. Now iron occurs in these older
rocks as protoxide and peroxide, the former of which is soluble and the
latter insoluble in water. The peroxide, however, by the action of
organic matter, such as is held in solution in boggy waters, may be
deprived of a portion of its oxygen and converted into protoxide and
thus be rendered soluble. If the iron-bearing water is confined first in
a shallow basin and exposed long to the action of the atmosphere the
protoxide of iron absorbs the oxygen and is precipitated as an insoluble
red peroxide of iron. If, however, plant or animal life be present in
sufficient quantities, this oxidation is prevented. In case but little
foreign material, clay or sand, has been brought by the waters, the
deposit will be an iron ore. In case large quantities of foreign
material are deposited from the waters at the same time, there will be
produced, in the absence of life, a brown or red clay or sandstone, and
in its presence a white or light colored formation containing the iron
as a carbonate. We reason therefore from the condition in which the iron
is found in the red beds, that there could have been little or no life,
animal or vegetable, in the water from which it was deposited. The
conclusion is strengthened by the fact of the large quantities of gypsum
which are usually derived from the evaporation of saline waters. The
degree of saline concentration which the precipitation of gypsum
indicates, would be highly inimical to life. The presence of gypsum
helps to account for the absence of life, and the absence of life
accounts for the brilliant color. The three prominent characteristics of
the formation (that is the red beds) are therefore quite in harmony with
each other.'" (Geol. Blk. Hills, p. 138.)

Continuing the subject, Professor Todd says: "Accepting this explanation
of the striking red color, the question remains as to how these
circumstances, favorable for its formation, were produced.

"This red color is quite common in the whole Rocky Mountain region, not
only on the eastern slope of the mountains, but to the various detached
members of the system. We must, therefore, look for some extensive
condition. If we seek some case in the present, parallel to the one
already indicated, we perhaps can find none better than one on the
eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, where, because of dry climate and the
shallow waters, the deposition of gypsum and salt is now going on. In
the gulf known as the Kara Boghaz, which is separated from the Caspian
by a narrow strait, the evaporation is so rapid as to produce an almost
constant flow from the sea into it. This strait and this gulf give the
impression to an unlearned observer that there must be a mysterious
subterranean outlet. The water flows in, carrying with it the salt and
other soluble minerals. It then evaporates, leaving the salt and
minerals behind."

This explanation is calculated to afford particular pleasure to the many
visitors to the Garden of the Gods, in Colorado, who seldom receive
satisfactory answers to their questions as to the reasons "why." In that
much visited spot, however, the great mass of the deposit has been
removed by erosion and the curiously shaped remnants are only such
portions as were exceptionally hard and consequently withstood the
action of the submerging waters.

Having made a considerable stop on the way to Wind Cave, we will now
hurry on, but with good horses and a fine day the drive is one of great
pleasure. The road gradually rises to higher ground and soon reaches a
point six hundred feet more elevated than Hot Springs, with a charming
view of hill and valley distances, and the way then continues over the
hill-tops. At one point by the roadside a circle of tent-stones still
marks the spot occupied by Sitting Bull for a week or more after the
Custer massacre, while he camped here and in the security of his
commanding position watched the movements of the government troops who
were in search of him.

Hot Springs and Buffalo Gap are both included in the wide-spread view.
Beside the road and scattered about in all directions are fine specimens
of agates and quartz crystal which seem most beautiful and most abundant
on the hills in the immediate vicinity of the cave, the crystals being
either rose pink, pale green, yellow, white or colorless.

Arriving at the cave, the entrance is not visible, but between the
ravine in which it is located and the road, there is the cave office and
small hotel, on the ravine side of which an outer stairway leads down to
the cave entrance, over which has been built a log cabin.

On account of the precautions taken for the protection of visitors,
accidents are so rare that it might almost be said that none occur.
Every person is required to register before entering the cave and all
returning parties are carefully counted, although they are usually
unaware of the fact. They are always accompanied by two guides and
others are added if the party is large. No one is, on any account,
permitted to wander in advance of the head guide or linger behind the
one in the rear.

Within the cabin the immediate entrance to the cave is securely closed,
and in order that the door may not be forced from its fastenings by the
roaring wind which shakes it threateningly, it opens in, instead of out.
This wind suggested the name Wind Cave, and will probably be utilized,
at no very distant time, to generate electricity for lighting the

The wind is strongest at the surface, and a guide goes down first to
place lights in sheltered nooks where the force has begun to diminish,
about fifty feet below the entrance; and here we light our candles
which, if guarded somewhat, are not extinguished unless the current is
unusually severe. The balance of the descent of one hundred and
fifty-five feet from the surface to the first chamber is easily

This would be the least interesting room in the cave if it were not the
Bride's Chamber, on account of having once been the scene of a marriage
ceremony. But no others are in need of assistance of such romantic
nature, as all are curiously and handsomely decorated, with such a
charming variety of deposits, artistically massed, combined or
contrasted, that every step brings fresh pleasure, and monotony is

Passing from this room by a long, narrow passage, in the walls of which
are observed many beautiful little pockets of crystals, attention is
presently called to Lincoln's Fireplace, a perfectly natural specimen of
the old-fashioned design broadly open in the chimney; doubtless just
such an one as Mr. Lincoln's good mother hung the crane in and set the
Dutch oven before. A little beyond and on the opposite side of the
crevice is Prairie-dog town, not a very extensive town, to be sure, but
so true a copy that one unfamiliar with the small animal and his style
of architecture would afterwards easily recognize both. At one time his
dogship was carried away by a too eager collector, but a letter to the
suspected visitor brought him home by the next freight.

The Dutch Clock occupies a position on a shelf near by, and all southern
visitors greet the Alligator as a familiar friend, as all of us joyfully
meet any acquaintance from home.

A long narrow passage, formerly a "tight crawl," but later opened up by
heavy blasting, must be traversed before we come to the Snow Ball Room,
beautiful with round spots of untinted carbonate of lime, as if fresh
soft snow had been thrown by the handful over walls and ceilings, with
the additional ornamentation of calcite crystals. In the crevice beyond
rises the Church Steeple, diminishing regularly, though roughly, in
size, to a height of sixty feet, but not degraded with the little
squirming stairway usually seen in Church spires.

The next room is the Post Office, in which we are for the first time
introduced to the greatest peculiarity and most abundant formation known
to the cave. Being a newly discovered addition to geology it has no
scientific name and therefore is simply called box work, because it
resembles boxes of many shapes and sizes. The formation of the box work
is generally regarded as an unexplained and unexplainable mystery, but a
careful study of various portions of the cave shows it in all stages of
development and suggests a reasonable theory as to the cause of its
origin and variety of development. The volcanic disturbances which have
already been discussed as having been responsible for the various
uplifts and depressions of the Black Hills region, and also for opening
the fissures which gave the cave a beginning, must have supplied the
conditions that were necessary to the formation of box work. And these
preliminary conditions were merely cracks in the rock. By the violence
of earth movement the limestone has been crushed, probably when the land
was undergoing depression, prior to the upheaval which opened the great
parallel fissures. The varying hardness of the rock, as well as
proximity to the surface, would readily account for the difference in
size of the fractures, which is from one-half inch to twelve inches; the
largest being the most distant from the surface. That this crushing was
done before the salt waters retired from the region, which was towards
the close of the Cretaceous Age, is sufficiently evident in the fact
that portions of the Red Beds show similar fractures with the cracks
filled with gypsum, and gypsum, as we have already seen, is a salt
water deposit.

After the crushing was done the cracks in the Carboniferous Limestone
were filled with water heavily charged with calcium carbonate, taken in
solution from the rock, first from pulverized particles, and afterwards
by percolation and contact with exposed surfaces. This calcium carbonate
was slowly deposited in crystalline form, so that in time the cracks
were filled and the crushed rock firmly cemented with calcite seams. But
in the meantime the removal of the calcium carbonate had started
disintegration of the more exposed portions of the rock, which steadily
continuing, finally reduced the porous body between the crystal seams to
a soft clay which was gradually dissolved and carried out through small
imperfections in the thin crystal sheets, leaving the empty box work as
we find it. But where blasting has exposed fresh surfaces, much of the
solid limestone carries the box-like sheets of crystal.

The thinnest box work is seen in the upper levels, from which the waters
retired soonest, and the heaviest and most beautiful is in the Blue
Grotto, on the eighth level where the water remained longest and its
diminished volume became most heavily charged. In many places, however,
there is another heavy variety known as pop-corn box work, which seems
to be an impure lime carbonate not so finely crystallized as the other,
but at the time of my visit no explanation had been given of the manner
of its deposit; and my own theory that it was not formed under water had
nothing to sustain it until, a few weeks later, while visiting Crystal
Cave, the work was found in active progress on surfaces occupying every
position, and the agent was dripping water. In all cases the original
box work has been in thin sheets of calcite, and the heavy varieties are
due to later deposits of calcite and aragonite crystals or, pop corn.

The colors are white, yellow, blue and chocolate brown; the last named
predominating to a great extent in that portion of the cave most easily
traveled by visitors, and forming the ceiling and a part of one wall in
the Post Office, where, as has been said before, it first appears. The
effect is not dreary as might be imagined, and parties are generally
photographed here because one side of the room is white and greatly
assists the flash. This is a smooth, perpendicular wall marking the line
of the fissure and showing the strata of the rock in horizontal position
whitened with a thin coating of carbonate of lime. All visitors are
cordially invited to please themselves in leaving cards, letters or
papers in this chamber, which is reserved for that purpose, and to
refrain from leaving them in other portions of the cave or defacing the
walls with names.

Roe's Misery is a long, narrow passage into which, during the early
times before its size had been increased by blasting, a large man named
Roe crawled to his sorrow. Being larger than the hole he stuck fast, and
neither his own efforts nor those of the guides could relieve the
situation until a rope was sent for, and having been brought, was
securely fastened to his feet, when a long pull and a strong one finally
opened the passage. It is told that he claimed to have reviewed all the
objectionable acts of his life, by which his friends understood that he
occupied the motionless position not less than three weeks.

Red Hall is very nearly described by its name and is quite a showy room,
with the bright red walls contrasting sharply with their limited
ornamentation of pure white carbonate of lime and pearly crystals of

Off to one side of Red Hall is a beautiful little chamber called Old
Maids' Grotto, probably on account of its trim appearance and ideal
location. It is so entirely concealed from the view of those passing on
the public highway, that its existence is not even suspected, until
special attention is called to its cosiness, and then it is necessary to
mount an accumulation of great water-rounded rocks in order to obtain
convincing evidence of its actual reality. It is a long, narrow room,
shut in by a straight wall sufficiently high for rigid seclusion, or
protection, without preventing a glimpse of passing events.

A break in the description is made here for the purpose of inserting a
description, written at the author's request, by Mr. E.L. McDonald. He
was generally our special guide. He has chosen to describe the route
taken by the majority of visitors and therefore the balance of my
observations within those limits are omitted.

All who are familiar with those passages and chambers will observe while
reading the next chapter that no imaginary attractions are added to the
existing facts, but many interesting minor points are missing.

Only such changes are made as were agreed to as the condition on which
he would attempt a piece of work so at variance with his usual


[4] U.S. Geological Survey. Geology of the Black Hills. Henry Newton, p.




"At 9:30 in the morning the train bringing health-seekers and tourists
arrives at Hot Springs, a beautiful little city nestled in the
southernmost foot-hills of the world-reputed Black Hills of South
Dakota. The choice of a hotel is soon made, and when located, the
new-comers observe the other guests and acquaint themselves with the
attractions of the resort. Probably during the day they are approached
by the solicitor of the wonderful Wind Cave, who explains that the best
way to reach the cave is by means of the coach and four seen at the
hotel in the morning, and arrangements are made for the following day.
The next morning, seated in the tally-ho coach with strangers who are
soon acquaintances, you start on a beautiful twelve-mile drive to one of
nature's most interesting sights.

"Immediately after leaving town you begin to admire the scenery and
enjoy the cool, refreshing breezes, wafted from the mountains to the
north, down the slopes to the arid plains.

"After climbing a gently sloping 'hog-back' for about eight miles, you
are at the top of the divide and one thousand feet higher than Hot
Springs, which may be seen on the left. Looking ahead you can see Harney
Peak, the highest mountain in the Black Hills district; and on the right
you see Buffalo Gap, through which the creek runs that heads at
Min-ne-pa-juta Springs. The Indians used to drive buffalo through this
gap, hence its name. A small but thriving little town to the eastward
takes its name from this Buffalo Gap. From here you begin to go down a
gentle and winding incline to the cave, which is reached all too soon.

"At the office you register and procure tickets, and then have from
one-half to three-quarters of an hour in which to eat lunch or dine at
the hotel. Then all congregate in the office, from whence the start is
made, after every one has put on a cave cap, _not a suit, as such is
entirely unnecessary_. The guide leads the way to the entrance of the
cave which is separated from the office by some little distance, and is
located in the bed of a long since dry run, which in former times has
bared the carboniferous strata, and within this kind of rock the cave is

"As the author has asked me for an article descriptive of the cave, I
will only attempt to say something of our medium length route to the
Fair Grounds, or in other words, the Fair Grounds' Route. A collective
description of the whole cave would take months--even years--to
complete. Besides, the above route is the one most used by visitors at
the present time.

"On entering the Cave House (a log structure) you will in all
probability ask from whence comes the murmur of a waterfall. The guide
answers that it is the rushing current of air at the mouth of the cave,
sometimes in and sometimes out. Prof. J.E. Todd, in bulletin No. 1, S.
Dakota Geological Survey, p. 48, says: 'This phenomenon is found to
correspond with the varying pressure of the barometer, and with its
single opening and capacious chambers is easily accounted for.'

"The rushing air is sometimes strong enough to require a man's weight to
open the entrance door. Five days and nights is the longest time the
wind has been known to move in one direction without ceasing. This is
one of nature's greatest atmospherical phenomena.

"Some one says, 'Tickets, please!' and into the hole we go, single file
down a lighted passageway to where we can light our candles. After
descending about one hundred and fifty-five feet we come into the Bridal
Chamber (named by some of the earlier explorers before the present
management took hold of the property), which is eight or ten feet in
length by twenty feet in breadth. Passing along some distance, the
Snow-ball Room is entered. It carries this name on account of little
rosettes of carbonate of lime sticking to the irregular ceiling. This
room is pretty narrow and some fifty feet in length.

"The Post Office is next and soon reached. The ceiling is covered with
the box work formation somewhat resembling Post Office boxes. You will
no doubt wonder why it carries such a common name.

"Just because after searching in what books on geology and other
sciences we could get, we could not find it described nor any formation
resembling it; hence its common name, as we have named the pop-corn
work, frost work etc., from their appearance.

"The dimensions of the Post Office are some eighty feet in length by
twenty feet in width, with an average ceiling height of probably twelve
feet. Red Hall is the room next in order, and has on either side a red
bank of sandy, micaceous clay.

"Just to the left is a very pretty little grotto of box work. This room
is very odd in make-up. The floor is very rough and dips about fifteen
feet in its length of sixty feet, and includes a short flight of stairs.
The lowest end of the room is prettily decorated, and some pleasing
blends of color attract the eye. To the left is the Old Maids' Grotto, a
pretty little nook that would please any maid old or young.

"After passing through the White Room we turn to the left along the
crevice, and after traveling some little distance reach The Grand Opera,
a very narrow room but some forty feet in length. Chopin's Nocturne is a
small grotto in the right hand wall named by the famous violinist,
Edouard Remenji.

"The Devil's Lookout is reached by a few steps. It is a crevice about
ten feet wide at the base and sixty-five feet in height. This place is
remarkable for its columns of rock just over head. The pathway leads to
Milton's Study, some fifty feet distant. Turning into the crevice again,
some twenty feet are traveled when attention is called to Seal Rocks.
Sampson's Palace is the next room in order: here we see some stalagmitic
water formation on the left wall and the ceiling is one of the most
beautiful yet seen on the trip.

"We pass along to Swiss Scenery, a very prettily decorated room fifty
feet in length by fifteen in height. The box work is very pretty,
shading from yellow to dark brown. The general appearance of the room
would suggest its name, it being rougher than any other in the immediate
vicinity. Passing under an arch we enter the Queen's Drawing-room. Here
the box work has been developed beyond any on our pathway thus far. From
the ceiling it hangs like draperies and on the left wall is about
twenty-four inches in depth. On the whole this room is elegant enough
for the most exacting queen. We step from this room into the M.E.
Church. Rev. Mr. Hancher, President of the Black Hills Methodist
College, was I believe the first to hold song and prayer service in this
room; the pulpit is on the left as you pass through. The guides always
ask if any wish to sing or worship, as any one has a perfect right in a
dedicated Chapel.

"The Giant's Causeway is only a few steps beyond. This bit of scenery
has some resemblance to the famed basalt attraction on the coast of
Ireland. We 'duck' our heads under the Arch of Politeness and rise to a
standing position in Lena's Arbor, a very irregular shaped room admired
by a great many of our visitors.

"We enter Capitol Hall at the side, about midway between the ends. It is
the largest room yet visited, being some two hundred feet from end to
end, with a very high ceiling. Here we notice the walls and ceiling are
bare of box work and other formation, and are clean and white. The
decorative appearance exceeds any room yet visited. After getting into
line again we go down a flight of stairs to Odd Fellows' Hall, a chamber
that on examination suggests its name. In the ceiling is situated the
'All seeing eye,' one of the emblems of that august body, and at a
little distance the 'Three links;' also in the ceiling, and just under
the latter is situated a rock very much resembling a goat. Attention is
called to the first appearance of pop-corn work, a very peculiar
formation resembling pop-corn after it has broken open, and in this part
of the cave it is quite plentiful.

"We now descend another flight of stairs into Turtle Pass, where a large
turtle rests beside the path, and just beyond is the Confederate
Cross-roads, where the fissure is crossed by another forming a cross
with perfect right angles. The right hand passage is used for specimens
only; straight ahead leads to the Garden of Eden, the end of our
shortest route; we take the left hand path and journey through Summer
Avenue, some seventy feet in length, and reach the Scenes of Wiclow, a
large and high room, beautifully decorated with box work and pop-corn.
The ceiling and the left wall from floor to ceiling are fine box work.
On the right you see dark space, as a very large portion of this room is
unused, but we pass the Piper's Pig. List! The guide is pounding on the
Salvation Army Drum, a large projecting rock that on being struck with
the closed hand gives a sound very much like a bass drum.

"After walking across a short plank we enter Kimball's Music Hall, a
very beautiful room settled between two crevices and lined with box
work. Viewing the ceiling from the fissure on the right it is seen to
be smooth and fringed with pop-corn. In some places the boxes are
closed, resembling finished honey-comb. Over head box work can be seen
as high as the light penetrates. On the whole, I think this is the
finest crevice in the explored cave.

"Looking straight ahead you wonder how the party can travel over such a
road as presents itself to view, but the guide turns into an arch in the
right hand wall and enters Whitney Avenue. After walking across the
bridge over shadowy depths, our pathway lies for some fifty feet in one
of the most interesting ovens in the cave, at the end of which we enter
Monte Cristo's Palace by going down a flight of stairs. This room has
the greatest depth beneath the surface of any of the Fair Grounds'
Route, which is four hundred and fifty feet. In this room is noticed a
decided change in the box work, which is much heavier than any seen, or
that will be seen on this route, and the color is light blue.

"I guess I will give the party a talk while we rest under Monte Cristo's
Diamonds, a very sparkling cluster, about six inches in diameter, of
silica crystals.

"After studying the cave, it appears that it did not form in the same
manner as most others; on account of the absence of sink holes, the
regular arrangement of the chambers, the regular dip of the rock to the
south-east from five to ten degrees, and the regularity of the long
vertical fissures running north-west south-east. In fact, the whole cave
is made up of these fissures and it seems that the water has entered
narrow crevices opened by some eruptive force.

"You see small holes eaten in the ceilings and walls in every direction,
which indicates that the water came from a higher level, and being under
great pressure, wanted passage out. It seems the cave was a reservoir
for a long time, then after the water stopped flowing in it slowly
receded, and in settling the overcharged waters covered the rocks and
specimens with a calcareous coating, very thin in the upper portions of
the cave and getting thicker the deeper you go, giving evidence as you
see, of slowly settling. Had the waters rushed out they would in all
probability have left the rocks uncoated as in all other caves, with one
exception, the Crystal Cave, some seventy-five miles to the north of
Wind Cave.

"As we have some more caves to see we must journey on.

"Taking one last look at Monte Cristo's Diamonds we pass into Milliner's
Avenue, a very pretty avenue indeed with nearly as many colors as a
milliner's show-window would present. About mid-way of this avenue we
cross the bridge over Castle Garden, a room in the eighth tier beneath
the surface. From this avenue we step into the Assembly Room. Here the
formations are covered with a gypsum crystal that sparkles with
wonderful brilliancy. On the right is a passage leading to the Masonic
Temple, a room that any body of Masons would be proud of could they hold
lodge meetings in it. The passage on the left is the terminus of the
Pearly Gates' Route, the longest developed route in the cave. After
moving along some distance we see the Bad Lands, and then come into the
Tennis Court. This room has the net in the ceiling and I suppose the
party can furnish the raquet (racket). On the right hand side of this
room there is tier upon tier of box work; looking to the left, you
shudder at the almost bottomless pit just beside the pathway. Here we
take a rest preparatory to climbing up to the Marble Quarry, a task of
two flights of stairs. This is a very large room and has the most uneven
floor, ceiling and walls of any that our visitors see, and is barren of
specimens excepting in the first part over the stairs where there is
some box work of very pretty structure and color. Some distance up the
path we see on one side the Ghost of 'She,' and on the other the Devil's
Punch Bowl, a large rock with a basin-shaped hole about thirty-six
inches across and sixteen inches deep, but lo! the bottom has been
broken out: which is very appropriate as South Dakota is at present a
prohibition state. A winding path is followed until attention is called
to the Sheep's Head above an arch over the passage, and the ceiling here
is of flint, the ledge of which is four inches thick.

"Passing under the arch we enter Johnstone's Camp Ground, so named
because Paul Alexander Johnstone camped in this room while accomplishing
the third of his greatest mind-reading feats, during which he remained
in the cave seventy-two hours. He was locked in his room at the Evans
Hotel while a committee secreted the head of a gold pin in the cave. On
their return, after being blindfolded, he led them to the livery stable,
and securing a team drove to the cave and found the pin in the Standing
Rock Chamber, beyond the Pearly Gates, and then drove back to the city
still blindfolded.

"Down one short flight of stairs and we are in the Waiting Room, so
called on account of persons waiting here while the rest of their party
finished the trip by climbing up the Alpine Way. This difficult climb
was made until the route was developed via the Marble Quarry. A steep
pathway and one flight of stairs now bring us to the Ticket Office, and
another short stairway leads into the room above, which is the Fair
Grounds. We enter the right wing, which measures two hundred and six
links in length and forty-nine in width at the narrowest place. We are
now in the third level and no box work is seen, but the ceiling (which
is low) shows many interesting fossils. The central dome is some fifty
feet in height, and passing to the right the guide seats the party in
such a position that the frost work on the wall can be seen to
advantage. This is the largest part of the Fair Grounds and measures six
hundred and forty-five links long, exclusive of the right wing, and has
a width of fifty-three links, which with a number of wings added, makes
it one of the largest under-ground rooms within American caverns.

"A great many visitors look at their cuff-buttons when told we have
twenty-five hundred rooms included in ninety-seven miles of passageways.
Of course they do not understand how we get the mileage. In going to the
Fair Grounds we travel about three miles. In each fissure there are
eight levels, which makes twenty-four miles of cave from the entrance to
the Fair Grounds.

"Of the formations in the cave, the different kinds are on different
levels, the stalactites and stalagmites nearest the surface on the
second, the frost work on the third. This formation is in most instances
as colorless as snow. The mode of its formation is not thoroughly
understood, but is found in such positions as suggest its being formed
by vapors overcharged as spoken of about the water. It is almost always
on an over-hanging rock, over or near some fissure leading to a deeper
portion of the cave. Box work in this level is scattering and fragile:
in the fourth it is the prevailing formation: in the fifth it is heavier
and a little darker; in the sixth it varies in style and color, and
pop-corn appears, a queer formation resembling pop-corn ready to eat. It
is not so purely white here as in the lower levels, seventh and eighth.
In the seventh the box work is heavier than any seen on the Fair
Grounds' Route and the color is nearly blue, having a faded appearance.
In this tier is also found a good deal of mineral wool, which must not
be mistaken for asbestos. It sometimes attains a length of eighteen
inches and at one place where it seems to come out of a hole two inches
in diameter, and drops down like a grey beard, we have named it Noah's

"In the eighth tier we find very beautiful formations of carbonate of
lime, and the box work is decidedly blue, the boxes larger, and their
partitions one half inch thick.

"We have been deeper than the eighth tier but in narrow crevices barely
admitting a man of average stature. In these the calcareous coating is
much thicker than in any higher portions of the cave, but very little
sign of box work is seen.

"Sometimes we make a comparison between the cave and a sponge. Take for
instance a sponge as large as an apple barrel and there would be holes
in it as big as a man's thumb and closed hand. Now take a sponge, four
miles square and five hundred feet deep with holes in proportion to the
little sponge, and you have an illustration of The Wonderful Wind Cave,
of Custer County, South Dakota."




A very much longer, more beautiful, and also more difficult journey than
the one just described may be taken by those in whom the desire to see
is greater than the fear of fatigue, or possibly, some little danger.
With this object in view the Fair Grounds' Route is followed through
Monte Cristo's Palace and into Milliner's Avenue. Here we leave it by
dropping off the bridge into a rough hole, which proves to be a passage
descending into Castle Garden directly beneath the Avenue, and a room of
considerable size, plentifully supplied with bowlders. Although
interesting to visit, it has no points of such special merit as would
seem to require a detailed account, the main importance attaching to it
being the fact that it is the first portion of the eighth level visited.
A little beyond, however, is something quite new. The floor is covered
with a light yellow crust of calcite crystal, sufficiently strong to
bear the weight of a limited number of guests without much fracture. It
generally gives a hollow sound when struck, which is easily accounted
for as there are small holes noticed by which steam evidently made its
escape, and through these cavities can be seen but they are shallow. One
place shows the crust broken up and with the edges of the pieces
overlapped, like ice broken by a sudden rise of back-water, and in this
position they have been firmly cemented.

This is where the slowly receding waters of the cave lingered in shallow
pools above the small crevices long after the main portions had become
dry. That the crust was formed on top of the water, instead of beneath
its surface, has been proved by the only body of water now standing in
the cave. This is called Silent Lake, and being situated on another
route will be described in its proper place, but when discovered no
water was visible nor its presence even suspected until the crust gave
way under the weight of an explorer. The thin sheet of yellow calcite
crystal thus broken was the same as that seen in great abundance in the
now perfectly dry eighth level. The gradually decreasing volume of water
has left a smooth yellow coat on portions of the walls where
irregularities or slopes were favorable, and at least one such place is
vividly remembered if once seen. A steep incline of about fifteen feet
leads to a small oval hole through the wall; towards this we crawled
with no great ease; but getting to the hole was far easier than going
through it into a tiny cubby not high enough to sit comfortably upright
in, and too small to permit an average sized human being to turn around.
Close on the left it is shut in by another wall pierced by two holes
similar to that just passed, and each revealing a miniature chamber
scarcely more than three feet in either direction and eighteen inches
high. Being directed to examine the ceiling of the first, it was done
with some difficulty and much satisfaction, for there in the center was
a most exquisite bit of art work, a circular disk of "drusy" quartz
about twelve inches in diameter and having the appearance of a flat
rosette of fine black lace, in open pattern with small diamonds thickly
strung on every thread; a brilliant, sparkling mass of gems. After Mr.
McDonald had carefully removed a geode from the other little chamber, he
slid down into a fourth, the last of the diminutive suite, having
sufficient height to allow a sitting posture with raised head, and
opened the small jewel case, while I examined the place it came from.
Here all was calcite crystal heavily massed in various forms, and a
harmony of blue and brown, with half a dozen round, unbroken, perfect
geodes hanging from the ceiling like oriole nests. The geode taken
proved on opening to be especially fine, being filled with pearly white
calcite crystals of both the dog-tooth and nail-head forms, and was
kindly presented to be added to the collection of cave specimens already
purchased in town, to which were also added handsome pieces of "drusy"
quartz, cave coral, and tufa and mineral wool.

Following the guide I now slipped down into the larger nook just
vacated, and saw with considerable chagrin that the next step was down a
perpendicular wall more than ten feet in height, facing a high, narrow
fissure, the floor of which was merely two shelves sloping to an open
space along the middle, almost two feet wide, with the darkness of
continuing crevice below. Further progress seemed absolutely impossible.
All things are, however, possible to those who will, and it had been
willed to pay a visit to the grandest portion of Wind Cave. In order to
do so the descent must be made and was. Then some little distance must
be traveled along the crevice, but the angle of elevation taken by both
sides of the bisected floor served as a sort of prohibitory tax together
with the calcite paving, since to maintain an upright position on such a
surface would require long training of a certain professional character.
That difficulty, too, was overcome by placing a foot on either side of
the open crevice; the first consideration, of course, being safety and
not grace.

We now came to the enjoyment of the reward of merit. Flooded with the
brilliant white light of magnesium ribbon, the crevice walls could be
seen drawing together at a height of sixty-five feet, and both composed
entirely of larger box work than any seen before and very heavily
covered with calcite crystal, colored a bright electric blue and glowing
with a pearly lustre. This is the Centennial Gallery, and leaving it
with reluctance we passed on into the Blue Grotto to find it finer
still. It is somewhat wider and higher, while even the extremely rough,
uneven floor shows no spot bare of heavy box work of a yet deeper blue.

The wonderful beauty of this Blue Grotto necessarily stands beyond
comparison because in all the known world there is nothing like it. The
forms of crystal are chiefly aragonite.

From here we pass to the "Chamber de Norcutt," which would be considered
a very handsome room if it had no superiors: and the same can be said of
Union College, in which, however, is the Fan Rock to claim special
notice; an immense piece of fallen box work shaped like a lady's fan
half opened.

An imposing vestibule leads into the extensive but rather dreary
Catacombs, from which we crawled through a little hole into the M.W.A.
Hall, emerging at the top of a steep but not high slope covered with the
smooth yellow crust of calcite encountered at other places, and in
trying to make a dexterous turn so as to go down feet first, the
descent was accomplished with uncalculated suddenness and an unsought
but liberal collection of bruises. This, however, was not a happening of
the unexpected and could have no attention amid scenes of wonder and
beauty, and we were close to the Geysers. From a scientific point of
view this is the most important portion of the cave, for here is an
indisputable proof that the water in the cave was hot and that it was
subject to geyser action. The surrounding region is covered with the
crust already described, and at the top of a gentle elevation is thrown
up in the unmistakable form of geyser cones; there being two near
together on the surface described, with a third visible through one of
these on a slightly lower level, this one being a new discovery, as it
had escaped observation until we called attention to it.

These small cones show that after the degree of heat and the volume of
water had become reduced to the merest fraction of their former
greatness, they continued their accustomed work here in the depth of the
earth long after the once grand old geyser had ceased to show an outward
sign of life. When the water finally became so reduced even here that
the steam could no longer force it through, or to these latest vents,
the last rising vapors fringed their edges with a beautiful snow-white
border of crystallized carbonate of lime as fine and soft as a band of
swan's down, which it resembles. In the pure, still atmosphere of the
eighth level, almost five hundred feet beneath the entrance, this silent
proof of ancient action will endure for the admiration and instruction
of many generations yet to come. Few mortals will ever be honored with
memorials so lasting or so convincing of vanished power.

Proceeding on the journey the next chamber is the A.O.U.W. Hall, a
large, irregular room, by the rise of which a return to the seventh
level is accomplished; and the next entered is the Tabernacle, not at
all resembling the last, although a similar description would be

Now is reached what many consider the cave's greatest charm, The Pearly
Gates. And marvelously beautiful it certainly is.

Approaching by a slightly lower level, we see a gateway opening between
large rocks that light up with the soft lustre and varied tints of
mammoth pearls. A wonderful effect is produced by the white calcite
crystal spread in unequal thickness over the dark surface of the
encrusted rocks. Just without the gate is a short but not golden
stairway leading to it, and immediately within is the Saint's Rest, a
chamber of moderate size beautified by another great rock on which are
combined the warm, pearly glow of calcite and the cold glitter of frost
by the later addition of lime carbonate vapor-crystals to the calcium
carbonate aragonite.

Next beyond is the chamber containing the Standing Rock behind which Mr.
Johnstone made his famous discovery of the concealed pin-head. It is an
immense great fallen rock on whose dark surface are scattered
transparent flake-like crystals of satin spar, resembling the congealed
drops of a summer shower. The mind-reader entered the chamber by the way
we shall leave it.

Returning to the spot from which the Pearly Gates were first viewed, we
stand facing the most beautiful of this imposing group of brilliant
scenes, The Mermaid's Resort. This is a small cove with wave marks in
the white beach sand, above which rises a projecting, sheltering cliff
as purely white as freshly fallen snow, with a fine deposit of frost
work in thick moss-like patterns two and three inches deep.

This crystalline mass, so white and fragile, has to perfection the
appearance of hoar-frost about a steam-vent in extremely cold weather,
and was, no doubt, formed in a somewhat similar manner. It is
crystallized carbonate of lime, and could have been deposited in such
extremely delicate forms only by the heavily charged vapors rising from
hot water. No one needs to be told that hot water will take and hold in
solution a much larger quantity of solid matter than is possible to cold
water, with all other conditions the same; nor is it news that a portion
of the solid substance is carried off in the rising steam. Now the
geyser cones, so recently visited on the next lower level, prove both
the heat of the water and its heavy charge of solids, which gave it a
far more intense heat than pure water could have equaled, and this in
turn drove the steam to greater distances than otherwise it would have
reached. When cooled to such a point as to be reduced to a light vapor,
its movement was checked by various walls, projections, and ceiling as
were in its upward path, and these received the minute particles of
burden, while the somewhat brisk motion of the atmosphere, occasioned at
these points by the mixing of that of higher temperature from below with
the lower from above, is responsible for the dainty and varied forms
assumed by the fragile structure.

Once more resuming the journey, we admire the rugged charms of
University Heights, a somewhat larger and higher room than the next, St.
Dominic's Chamber, but perhaps not more interesting than the Council
Chamber, which besides other attractions is to some extent also a
Statuary Hall. From the Council Chamber the Alpine Way leads up into the
Fair Grounds directly above. This Alpine Way is a sort of cork-screw
twisting through the rocks, not unlike a badly walled well, assisted at
the lowest portion by a short and nearly perpendicular ladder. Next is
the Assembly Room, or Crown Chamber, as it is also called on account of
a handsome crown conspicuously placed. This room also contains a Moose
so perfectly carved that the skeptic who searches diligently for
imperfections finally clamors for the whole company to celebrate his
discovery of the artist's noble skill.

Leaving this room we re-enter Milliner's Avenue and soon cross the
bridge from which, a few hours ago, we descended into the eighth level
by way of Castle Garden; and now the return to the surface is by the
route followed before, and we arrive there at last terribly weary, but
more than well pleased.




There is yet another long and charming line of travel open to those who
have sufficiently steady heads and light feet to suffer no loss of
confidence or depression of spirit when mounting the steep stairway
whose limit seems lost in the dark distance above.

There being but the single entrance, a repetition of the worn and
ancient statement that all roads lead to Rome, means that many journeys
may be taken in Wind Cave, but all must have the same beginning.

In the tourist season the guides have not time during the day to bring
out specimens to supply the demand, so on this account night trips are
of frequent occurrence; and on these occasions the number of persons in
all that vast space seldom exceeds half a dozen, but their voices and
laughter, and the blows of their hammers, can be heard at greater
distances than would seem possible, and give an agreeable sense of
companionship; yet the voice does not travel by any means so far as in
other caves.

The evening we were to make the long trip just mentioned, our guide
being ready before any others had gone in, we started the advance on the
ninety-seven miles of enclosed, unoccupied space and had almost reached
the level of the Bridal Chamber when he remembered a forgotten and
necessary roll of magnesium ribbon, for which it was needful to return
to the office in the upper building. I sat down on the lowest step of
the great stairway to wait, and for a very short time was entirely alone
in the largest cavern in the world, excepting the Mammoth Cave of

The unexpected experience seemed suddenly to become one of the great
events of a lifetime, and was unmarred by the disturbing apprehensions
of any possible danger. The entire absence of sound was indescribably
awe-inspiring as

    "Strata overleaping strata from the center to the crust,
    Rose, Alp-high, in molten silence, as the dead rise from the dust;"

but the feeling of complete isolation from the living world would not
require an unlimited time to merit the one word--horrible. Even some
peril with ample companionship would be more agreeable, while it is a
curious fact that the combination of companionship with silence is
charming. On the occasion of one visit to the cave it was painful to
observe the actual suffering of a lover of quiet, from the
good-natured, but heedless, chatter of two of the party.

Presently steps on the stairs broke the stillness, a glimmer of light
pierced the intense darkness that surrounded the circle of one candle,
and the upper world seemed not so far away.

The interrupted journey was resumed, the route being that already
described as far as the Confederate Cross Roads, where, this time, we go
straight on in the main fissure instead of turning into the
cross-crevice, as was done before.

We were overtaken by the specimen party and recognized the three
laughing young girls only by their voices, as in full suits of overalls
and white duck caps, they looked like boys. Those who reside near the
large caves have overcome their objection to this costume, as it gives
much greater freedom and ease of movement, besides being a decided
economy. Feminine garments are so easily destroyed, but for artistic
effect the substitute cannot conscientiously be recommended.

Beyond the Cross Roads the first chamber is Breckinridge Gallery, a
long, rambling hall in which are combined the attractions already passed
and those yet to come, but having no striking feature predominating to
give special character other than the grandeur of extreme roughness,
which is also the quality most observed on passing into the Stone
Quarry, where great accumulations of blocks seem waiting preparation for

The next "open country" is protected from public trespass by the Garden
Wall, which appears to have been well built in the long ago by masons
properly trained in their craft, and extends, at a uniform height, to
the Fallen Flats, where the floor is covered with slabs of enormous size
that have fallen from the ceiling since water occupation ceased, as is
clearly shown by the sharp edges and surfaces entirely unworn.

The journey now becomes more interesting as the Cliff-Climbers' Delight
is reached, and we go steadily up the long nights of stairs until
visions of St. Peter begin to rise and we wonder which way the key will
turn. Near the top is a handsome growth of snow-white mold hanging in
long draperies behind the ladder or spread like on asparagus fern
flattened against the rock.

Arrived at the top limits of the stairs the ascent is by no means
finished, but continues through three large chambers known as Five
Points, the Omaha Bee Office--named by one of the staff of that well
known journal--and the W.C.T.U. Hall, dedicated to the service of the
organization by one of its workers.

[Illustration: Top of Glacier. Page 155.]

At last the upward journey is ended at the Silent Lake in the first, or
highest, level. This, as has already been observed, is the only body of
water now standing in the cave, and is not more than ten feet long by
six in width and twelve inches deep. The scanty volume is maintained by
the very limited inflow of acidulated percolating water which reaches
the small receiving basin charged with calcium carbonate; and being
cold, the charge is being precipitated on the bottom instead of forming
a crust over the surface as in former times when the controlling
influence was a degree of heat sufficient to sustain solid matter
without disturbing motion.

Rising above the Silent Lake is the Glacier, its moist surface
suggesting that the lake is fed by a slight thaw, while the
perpendicular front at the water's edge gives the impression of a berg
having recently broken off and floated away.

The Glacier flows between two high walls of dark rock, and the steep
incline of perhaps seventy feet, covered with a smooth deposit of
calcite and shining with moisture, has the appearance of ice and is as
uninviting for a climb. The top is connected with the roof above by a
group of short, and for this region, heavy columns of dripstone, the
oldest formation of that character in the cave.

An occasional overflow of the lake passes out to one side, then turns
and goes under the Glacier where its first few feet of descent are
called the Pearl Beds, where a variety of water-polished pebbles are
being coated over and cemented together with calcite crystal.

From the Glacier down to the lowest level of the cave by another route
than that taken for the ascent, there is abundant evidence that at one
time this portion of the cave was subject to excessively violent
activity, and if studied with a view to the penetration of the principle
of geyser action, offers many interesting and valuable suggestions that
can be added to and expanded into definite theories in connection with
the balance of the cave; all important requirements are clearly shown.

At a short distance from the Glacier is a small circular dome, called
the Picture Gallery, which evidently was shaped by water forced up from
below. The descent from here takes us into the St. Louis Tunnel, a long
rough passage leading down into the great Cathedral, by the still
descending irregularities of which we finally reach the Garden of Eden,
the objective point of a favorite tourist route, but usually approached
from the opposite direction. It is a large chamber of very irregular
shape, with an extremely uneven ceiling, dipping nearly to the floor and
rising suddenly to distant heights, while every portion of all the
varied surfaces glitters with a mass of frost work in every form it is
known to have assumed; the banks of orange buds in different stages of
expansion being exceptionally handsome. A portion of this wonderful room
especially admired is Cupid's Alcove, where the frost is tinged with a
pinkish flush from the brilliant paint clay captured in minute particles
by the vapors. The whole room is a marvel of loveliness, but
unfortunately visitors have wrought such noticeable damage that wire
screening must be placed before the general admittance of large parties
can be resumed.

Passing out and down to a lower level, by way of Jacob's Well, we find
the source of that magnificent abundance of frost work to be in the
Chamber of Forbidden Fruit, where a yellow calcite floor-crust indicates
the surface level of water diminishing in volume by evaporation long
after the upward flow had forever ceased, and from which the rising
vapor ascended to decorate the Garden of Eden, just described. But since
this water completely disappeared, leaving in evidence only the
record-bearing crust, a percolating drip has prepared indisputable proof
of the remote distance of that time by depositing on the crust great
clusters of luscious fruits, chiefly cherries, which appear to have been
carelessly tossed down in heaps, but are firmly fixed in place.

The onward journey continues up and down through Beacon Heights, a large
chamber which imitates Rocky Mountain scenery and terminates at the
Corkscrew Path which, as the name indicates, is a spiral path winding
down like a great stairway against the wall of an approximately circular
chamber which is perhaps the highest in the cave, and shows the most
violent water-action. The plunging torrent rushed on from here to tear
out the heavy rock and form the next chamber, known as Dante's Inferno,
whence, its force being divided, it went more gently in various
directions. And by one of these passages we now re-enter the main route
of travel once more, and finally return to the face of the earth,
wondering if it will be possible to so describe those wonderful scenes
as to represent with even a limited degree of fairness or justice the
awe-inspiring grandeur of the entire trip, or the perfection of fragile
loveliness formed and preserved as by special miracles in the Garden of

One peculiarity of this great journey was that the box work, so abundant
in other portions of the cave, was here conspicuously absent.


Another route in Wind Cave is that to the Crystal Palace which, although
the shortest, is the one most seldom taken by visitors, because of a
certain amount of difficulty and discomfort being unavoidable. Only a
portion of the great stairway below the entrance is descended, when we
abandon it and climb into a hole in the side-wall of the narrow passage,
from which point to the end of the trip our feet prove to be merely

The space crawled into and through widens sufficiently in several places
to form chambers of good size, but the height of the ceiling is nowhere
more than three feet and most of it only two or even less. The rough
rock floor is partly carpeted with patches of loose moist clay, which is
the means of our becoming as grimy as tramps, and its source is readily
accounted for by an examination of the ceiling. This is easily made
while resting one skinned elbow at the expense of the other. The word
"abraded" is inadequate where anything approaching real cave study is

The box work of the ceiling has almost entirely lost its
crystallization, and is as ready to crumble as the enclosed clay, which
is still retained because it had not yet reached the necessary point of
deterioration to be carried out before the great volume of water,
required for that service, retired from this high level of the cave.

When finally reached, the Crystal Palace proved worthy of the effort,
its decoration being entirely of dripstone and very beautiful, although
on too small a scale to be compared with similar work in many caves: it
is merely an attractive "extra" in Wind Cave, and not one of the
important attractions that give the Cave the rank that may have a few
equals but no superiors.

The first room is scarcely more than twelve feet in either direction and
not quite six feet high. The glassy ceiling is thickly studded with
small stalactites from two to eighteen inches in length, and mostly of
the hollow "pipe stem" variety, from which the surplus drip rests in
white masses on the clean floor around a central bowl of good clear

Down the middle of the wall directly opposite the entrance a rushing
little white cascade has congealed, and on either side just under the
ceiling is a hollowed-out nook closely set with short stalactites and
small columns, all pure white.

Near by but not connected is another room too well filled to permit an
entrance, but a portion of the wall having been carried out a
satisfactory view is not denied. Here the floor rises to within three
feet of the ceiling, and the deposit is much heavier, so that many fine
columns rise from bases that spread and meet or overlap. If the cave had
no greater claim to notice than these small drip rooms, it would still
be worthy of a visit.

The effort to secure flash-light pictures could only be considered
successful because there are none better to be had.

The atmosphere of Wind Cave is marvelously fresh and pure, and possesses
in a high degree the invigorating quality which in most caves renders
unusual exertion not only possible, but agreeable as well. In all the
chambers and passages there is little change in the quality of the air,
and thorough tests with a standard thermometer showed the variations on
the different levels, from the highest to the lowest, to be about 2°;
but on different days the range was from 45° to 52°. This curious state
of affairs some one else will have to explain.

The only forms of life ever found in Wind Cave are a small fly and the
mountain rat.

While visiting the cave, every one connected with it was most kind and
obliging, especially in showing those beautiful and difficult portions
that few visitors are so fortunate as to see. While this is very far
from being a complete description even of the parts visited, it will
serve to show what a truly grand cavern is located at the south end of
the Black Hills.

The elevation at Hot Springs is three thousand, four hundred feet, and
that of the entrance to the cave is four thousand and forty feet. A
source of disappointment in connection with Wind Cave is that its fine
scenery cannot be effectively pictured.



Northwest of Hot Springs there is a group of three onyx caves, the
distance to them being estimated at from seven to ten miles, if the
party does not get lost, which is the usual fate of those who dispense
with the service of a driver familiar with the country. In going, the
longer way, over the hill-tops, claims a preference on account of
distant views with a favorable light. When the Onyx Cave Ranch is
reached its scenery is found to be charming, with an ideal log house
overlooking the cañon, and itself overlooked by the rising slope of the
wooded hill. The entrance to the cave is in the opposite wall of the
cañon, and is covered by a small cabin, at the door of which the view
demands a pause for admiration; then the party disappears down a narrow,
rough, sloping passage of sufficient height for comfort to none but know
the value of comparative degrees. It soon appeared, however, that
personal comfort would travel only a short distance. The mud increased
with every step, and in its midst was a small hole through which it was
necessary to pass to the next lower level. This hole being so small and
its walls slanting, the only way to accomplish the first half of the
descent was to sit down in the mud and slide, stopping half way to
examine a fine ledge of beautiful striped onyx, white and a brownish
pink, the first outcrop in the cave, but in the next level it is seen in
rich abundance and variety; the colors being red, black and white, brown
in several shades and pure white. All are handsome and of commercial
quality and hardness; and just above them is a ledge of fine blue

The next chamber is called the Bad Lands, on account of a certain
resemblance to that desolate region. The way into it is through the
Devil's Corkscrew, a most uninviting passage because it stands on end
and is about twelve feet deep with circular, perpendicular walls
discouragingly free of prominent irregularities; but careful study
reveals a few available crags and rough edges, by which the descent is
made. Fortunately the party decreased in size just within the entrance.
Climbing up into a hole in the wall of this room, with no little
difficulty, the Aerial Lake is the reward of a breathless upward
struggle, and a satisfying one. The Lake is very small, but under its
clear surface can be seen numerous growing deposits of calcite, while
the roof of onyx gleams with a mass of small white stalactites.

Returning again to the main route and traveling to the end of a short
passage we beheld the entrance to Red Hall, a piece of rope ladder
dangling half way down a perpendicular wall, the other half having no
help whatever. The way was clear so far as the length of the ladder, and
with trust in the future soon learned in cave work that distance was at
once passed, and sitting on the very narrow ledge to cogitate on the
possibility of further progress, Mr. Sidey solved the problem by
suggesting, rather doubtfully, that the easiest way would be to drop off
and allow him to interrupt the fall. This method had twice proved the
only means of advance in Wind Cave and can be termed rapid transit. The
walls of Red Hall are of stratified limestone variegated with patches of
red rock, and clay of the same gay hue. It is the highest chamber in the
cave and probably the largest. A hole in the wall at the floor level,
near the entrance to the passage beyond, gives a glimpse of the cave
river flowing on a slightly lower level, not over two feet below the
floor we stand on. The water is said to have a depth of fifteen feet,
and a rock thrown in gave back the sound of a splash into water not
shallow. Entering the passage already referred to, its dimensions
decreased to a crawl and then to a squeeze, so that most of its length
was taken in a very humble position, which permitted no regard to be
paid to the ample mud or little pools of water that must be serenely
dragged through as if carrying them away were an agreeable privilege.
Even a muddy passage ends in time, and at last we gained a standing
point and after a short climb were in Fairies' Palace, a marvel of
dainty beauty, and worthy of the distasteful trip just taken. We stood
in a narrow passage that divided the small chamber like the central
aisle of a cathedral, above which the white roof formed a Gothic arch
from which depended countless little stalactites and draperies, while on
either side, six feet above the passage, was a floor of onyx supporting
exquisite columns of which the highest are not more than three feet.
Only a short distance from the Fairies' Palace is the almost equally
beautiful Ethereal Hall, and connecting the two I had the pleasure to
discover a small arched passage more beautiful than either.

[Illustration: Fairies' Palace. Page 165.]

Although much of the cave was still not visited, the long drive to town
demanded a return to the surface, but several stops were made on the way
to admire masses of onyx and groups of curious forms in deposits of that
fine stone. One high, crooked chimney above the Corkscrew is especially
fine and correspondingly difficult for a grown person weighted down with
garments dripping mud and water; but Kimball Stone, our boy friend,
scampered up like a squirrel.

Two of the Onyx Caves had not been seen at all and Mr. Sidey expressed
special regret on account of the latest discovery as no woman had ever
yet entered it; but the sun was low in the west and the road had some
dangerous points that must be passed before dark, so the reeking skirt
was removed and without waiting to dry by the great fire kindled for the
purpose we hurried off, promising to return if possible, and carrying
treasures in specimens, besides an ancient lemon, which may not be
called a fossil, since soft substances are said not to fossilize; but
however that may be, this is a perfect lemon whose particles have been
replaced with the lasting rock in the same way as the numerous Cycad
trunks in the same region have been preserved to prove to us
conclusively that formerly the region flourished under tropical
conditions, and supported an abundant animal life of tropical nature and

Soon after leaving the ranch, we descended by a sort of goat-trail-road
into a grandly beautiful cañon, along the bed of which the road
continues until it flows out as the water did in ages gone. By this time
it had become quite dark, and the chill of the northwest night formed a
combination with saturated clothing that cannot be highly recommended as
a pleasure; but the natural chivalry which prompted our young escort to
insist on lending his own coat, and his evident disappointment that the
sacrifice was not allowed, afforded a pleasure that will continue.


A few days later it was convenient to return to the Onyx Cave ranch with
the special object of entering the newest cave, which could be done with
the assistance of seventy feet of rope. While necessary preparations
were pending, a walk up the cañon was proposed. At a distance of perhaps
a quarter of a mile above Onyx Cave evidence was seen of a very
remarkable form of ancient life. It is not the usual few bones but is a
cast in the rock of the cañon bed of an animal clothed in its flesh. The
appearance of the head, neck, body and wings is preserved, but the tail
and four limbs have been carried away by eroding waters which even now
have not quite forsaken the cañon. The containing stratum is not seen in
the cañon wall, and near the lower end of the cañon a fine white
sandstone crops out beneath. We ask: "Was the cañon cut to its full
depth while yet a Cretaceous sea was depositing beach-sand, and did the
earliest horse, with wings, appear at the close of that period? Or, did
an animal with fore limbs developed, retain its wings into Miocene time
and leave record of its life in an arm of the Tertiary lake?" The body
is that of a horse with wings attached to the shoulders. The head is
unlike that of a modern horse, being much shorter and more rounded, but
the parted lips give a glimpse of the teeth of a young horse. If only
the feet could be found, I feel assured they would prove that the
three-toed horse of ancient time, so abundantly in evidence throughout
this region, was possessed of wings and in some way furnished the idea
of Pegasus.

A few feet further down the cañon are a pair of twisted wings that show
the animal to have perished in company with its mate, while trying to
escape from a sudden flood that rushed down the cañon like a moving

After some uneasy discussion about the means of entering the new cave,
it was finally decided that the available rope was too short and not of
sufficient strength. This was, of course, a disappointment but not a
surprise, as a very peculiar quality in the rope used to enter caves of
this kind had come to notice before. The peculiarity is, that a rope
entirely above suspicion for the safety of a two hundred pound man, at
once weakens and must be condemned when threatened with one hundred
pounds of woman's weight, yet there is an implied compliment hidden
somewhere about this protective system that tends to reduce the sting of

So it was agreed to spend the afternoon in the White Onyx Cave, which is
generally spoken of simply as the Upper Cave because it occupies a
higher level than the Onyx Cave already described, and is supposed to be
an extension of the same although no connecting passage has been

The accompanying friend had not been costumed for caving, but was
persuaded to accept a full suit of overalls, which needed the addition
of a pick and pipe to make the picture perfect. Unfortunately a snap
shot failed.

The entrance is in a perpendicular portion of the cañon wall, but a
narrow path that starts some distance away and appears in eminent danger
of falling off, makes most of the ascent comparatively easy; and the
balance is completed by a short ladder whose rounds dip toward the cañon
bed in a rather alarming manner, but this only proves the folly of
giving too much heed to appearances, for it is strong and firmly
fastened to the rocks.

Just within the entrance there is height sufficient for standing, but
the roof descends suddenly and the walls come near together, reducing
the passage to a crawl, and showing that in past times water poured in
at this opening and not out as might be supposed. The first chamber
entered is the Crystal Gallery, but it is so nearly filled with great
masses of pure white onyx no standing room remains. Drops of water on
portions of the onyx ceiling here are the only moisture remaining in
this cave. When Mac's[5] head came in contact with the roof he called to
the guide: "See here, little boy, you ought to sing out 'low bridge' at
that sort o' places, 'cause when I'm busy hunting a spot to set my foot
in, I can't see what my head's coming to, and I like to mined a lot o'
this rock with it."

Slowly, and with no danger and less comfort, we creep over, under and
between great massive beds of the fine white crystalline rock until at
length we enter the Ghost Chamber where no onyx has been deposited, but
where numerous mountain rats have evidently been at home for many years,
if we may judge from the enormous quantity of pine needles with which
they have carpeted the floor. The walls show small box work crumbling to
dust, and Ray climbed high into the chimney-like opening above our
heads, but reported that it ended suddenly and had no attractions to

Coming out, the way was somewhat varied, but more difficult, as the
passages through the onyx beds were more irregular and more nearly
closed; Onyx Hall being only a fair specimen of the marvelous results
achieved here by the persistent regularity of an uninterrupted but slow
drip, continued through hundreds of years.

[Illustration: White Onyx Masses. Page 170.]

[Illustration: Looking out of White Onyx Cave. Page 171.]

It is surprising that in all these heavy beds there is no line or
tint, or slightest trace of color anywhere, while the other Onyx Cave,
so near as to suggest connection, has a gorgeous variety of rich

The view looking out from the entrance of White Onyx Cave is wonderfully
fine, and equally so whether the rain falls or the sun shines, a timely
shower giving us an opportunity to enjoy both.

Before leaving the ranch, a promise was made by Mr. Sidey to write a
short description of the other cave, which he kindly did, and it is here
given. He says:

"In trailing a deer I came across a hole on top of a long divide. On
throwing a rock down the opening, I could hear it rattling against the
walls until the sounds gradually died away, but there seemed to be no
bottom to the hole, and I resolved to come again prepared and make
explorations. After the snow had gone my twelve-year-old son, Ray, and
I, mounted on our trusty horses, Bonnie and Dee, equipped with ropes,
candles, hammers and a pocketful of matches, set out to explore the new
cave. It was a beautiful, bright spring morning, and after an hour's
hard climbing over fallen timber and rocks, we reached the summit of the
mountain. A search of half an hour revealed the opening which was barely
large enough to allow me to pass through.

"Fastening our ropes securely to a stout log rolled across the chasm, we
began to pay it out, and although we did not feel it touch bottom, I
started down to explore, the length of the rope at least. As I descended
I found the opening gradually widened out to eight or ten feet, a sort
of inverted funnel-shaped hole with irregular wall but smooth and
affording little footing. As I neared the bottom I saw the end of the
rope was within four feet of it, so I landed on terra firma and called
to Ray, 'All right, come down!'

"Lighting our candles we found ourselves standing on a mound of pure
onyx, and on looking around could see we were in an immense cavern,
whose walls sparkled and glittered as if studded with diamonds. Going
down twenty feet we found a smooth-floored room that measured three
hundred feet in length, twenty five feet in width, and thirty feet in
height. The walls were solid white onyx lined or banded with pink and
golden stripes. The ceiling was arched, and draped in fantastic shapes,
and hung with stalactites innumerable. The room was so large and the
drapery and festooning so delicate and beautiful, that we were filled
with awe and could not speak for a time.

"At last we started to further explore this wonderland. On going to the
farther end of the room we found a passage leading on. This we followed
for a hundred feet and found the whole cavern lined with onyx and
crystals clear as glass. After loading up with specimens we retraced our
steps and on reaching the large room we had first entered we heard a
roaring, rumbling noise. An awful noise truly, which filled us with an
unknown dread.

"On approaching the entrance we saw a stream of water pouring down,
completely filling the hole.

"For a moment we felt like rats caught in a trap, our only way of egress
occupied by a stream of water falling straight down seventy feet, and
then we wondered how long it would take to fill up the room.

"Suddenly the thought that there might be an outlet for the water gave
us new hope, so we went to see and sure enough we found a natural
water-course down through an opening we had overlooked. We gathered up
courage once more, and thought the best thing would be something to
occupy our time. So we set to work getting out more specimens and in a
couple of hours the water stopped running and we were ourselves once

"Ray grasped the rope, which was soaking wet, and went up the seventy
feet, hand over hand, like a cat. I, being heavier, found it quite
different from going down. The rope played whip-cracker with me for some
time and before reaching the top I was covered with bruises. But
daylight never appeared so beautiful before.

"Here we found the cause of so much water. A cloud-burst had occurred on
the Divide and a large portion of it had poured down the passage way to
the cave.

"We found our horses patiently waiting for us and night closing in.
Mounting we rode rapidly home, resolved never to venture into this cave
again without leaving some one at the entrance to give warning in case
of danger.

"John F. Sidey."

The first specimen taken out was given to us on our first visit to the
ranch, and is pure white with a stripe of brilliant golden yellow.
Having been invited to give a name to this new find it seems quite
proper after reading the description of the deluge and seeing the bright
bands of color, and considering the hopeful promise of future
possibilities, to call it The Rainbow Cave.


[5] Colored driver.



South Dakota can boast of yet another cave in the Black Hills that was
formed by volcanic disturbance of the rocks and afterwards decorated in
a manner peculiar to itself. This is Crystal Cave. It is nine miles from
Piedmont in the eastern edge of the Hills, and easily visited from that
point by way of the narrow-gauge road, which winds along the natural
curves of the beautiful Elk Creek cañon, whose walls are said to expose
a depth of almost a mile of geological strata, although the exposure at
any one point does not exceed three hundred feet.

The disappointment of not having seen this cave during the summer visit
to the Hills grew as the weeks passed, and a request that the owner
should send a description was answered with an assurance that it was
impossible. Therefore, on Friday, November 13th, 1896, with a small
nephew, Herbert A. Owen, Jr., for company, the trip was undertaken a
second time to complete the unfinished mission.

The first glimpse of the Hills is at Edgemont in the early morning, but
the train makes its way to the north through the heart of the uplift,
twisting about the curves of the hills and clinging to the sides of a
beautiful cañon whose high walls give way here and there to fine slopes
densely covered with forests of pine and spruce. These look black in the
distance and suggested the name of Black Hills to the Indians, who
always have a reason for the names they give even to their children.

There are great tracts where fire has killed part or all of the timber
but left much of it standing, while in other places nature has defied
the power of fire and the hills are re-clothed with young trees. A
recent storm had further beautified the region with a few inches of
snow, but as the day advanced a chinook began to blow so that when
Deadwood was reached, soon after noon, only the northern exposures
retained an appearance of winter.

Deadwood is a most peculiar little city and very attractive in its
peculiarity, being crowded snugly into a depression between a number of
steep pine-wooded hills, which gives an appearance suggestive of a
bird's nest securely located among the forks of a branching tree, and as
is the case in a nest, business is chiefly transacted at the lowest
depth of the enclosure. As the busy center of a great gold-mining
region, the metropolis of the Hills, and the outgrowth of an exciting
historical past, it claims and receives interesting attention. And while
the whole Black Hills region is still distinctly a man's country, it
is called woman's paradise, and surely nowhere else are the daughters of
Eve received with a more gracious courtesy or surrounded by an equally
unobtrusive protecting care.

[Illustration: Approaching Deadwood. Page 176.]

The streets leading up to the residences lack very little of standing on
end, and the houses appear to have been hung in place by means of hooks
and wire cord like pictures on a wall. The smelter has no reception day
but admits visitors as if their pleasure were a guarantee of profit.

The finest scenery in the Hills is said to be that of the Spearfish
Cañon, north of Deadwood, and the finest of that at the Falls, but this
may be doubtful as other points are very beautiful, especially where the
Burlington & Missouri Road requires a distance of seven miles to climb
the cañon wall.

Piedmont being the nearest town to Crystal Cave, we took the early
evening train on the Elk Horn Road and soon were located, and shocked to
learn that the proprietor of the cave had started several days before to
drive to Wind Cave for specimens. The cave was closed and no one there.
The trip had been taken for the one purpose of exploring Crystal Cave,
and a letter sent in advance to announce our coming, but the train
carrying it was an hour late so he drove off without the mail.

There seemed at first nothing to be done but take the next returning
train, which, under the circumstances, was objectionable. A night's rest
and a telegram that had to be sent twelve miles by special messenger,
improved the situation. The proprietor was unavoidably detained at Wind
Cave, but secured a reliable guide, expressed me the cave keys, and has
since married the "specimen" he had gone in quest of. May great
happiness dwell at the cave many years!

The morning of the third day after our arrival found arrangements all
complete, and soon after the train left Piedmont it entered Elk Creek
Cañon, which is always beautiful, but on that morning was exceptionally
so on account of a sudden change in the weather having covered every
visible portion of the passing landscape with heavy frost. The trees on
distant hills that ordinarily are black, were, for once, all softly
white, and when the tall pines in the cañon were shaken by a breeze,
they cast a shower of flakes like snow.

Here the cañon walls are in Carboniferous Limestone with a pleasing
variety of color in the strata, and the erosion-carving not overdone,
the most notable piece being the Knife-blade. This, at first view,
appears to be a high, round tower, but the train following the curve,
reveals the fact that it is not a tower, but a thin, curved
knife-blade. The sun just for one instant shone through a rift in the
clouds, and added special charm to the scene.

[Illustration: The Knife-Blade. Page 178.]

A short distance beyond is Crystal Cave station, where the guide was
waiting to take us in charge. He is an intelligent young man who has
served an enlistment term in the army, is recently married, very
obliging, and proud of being trustworthy.

The scenery here is most beautiful as well as grand. The cañon makes a
sharp turn toward the south, and on the north opens out into another
cañon of even greater beauty and higher walls, the perpendicular being
three hundred feet in places. Crystal Cave is in the hill embraced by
the junction curve. The natural entrance is more than two hundred feet
above the cañon bed and was naturally approached from above. A short
walk up the north cañon, whose name has unfortunately slipped away, was
over ice and snow the chinook had failed to reach, and brought us to a
long stairway against the wall, which affords a more direct approach
than nature gave and is a fair test of physical perfection.

Finally a resting place is reached where the grandeur of the view can be
enjoyed; and then a shorter stairway completes the ascent of the wall,
but not of the hill, so there is still a considerable upward walk
through the forest of tall pines all carpeted with brilliant mats of
kinnikinic with its shining leaves, glowing in shades of green and red,
trying to rival the bright scarlet berries. The kinnikinic here
resembles the wintergreen of the east, while in the mountains in
Colorado it grows in the form of a shrub two to three feet in height,
but with no variation in the leaf or berry.

At last perserverance is rewarded with a view of the cave buildings and
the summit of the hill rising yet higher beyond, and tall, straight
pines swaying in the rising wind over all.

One of the two houses was entered and preparations quickly made for
entering the cave, the artificial tunnel entrance being only a little
distance further on.

The door was unlocked, candle-sticks taken from a shelf within, candles
from the guide's supply lighted, and we went forward at last, into
Crystal Cave. At the end of the new tunnel, a second door was passed
through, which is locked on the inside during the visiting season by the
last guide to enter, in order that no chance late arrival may enter
alone and be lost.

The first room is a small one at the junction of the natural and
artificial entrances, from which we go upstairs to the Resting Room, in
the highest level of the cave, and perfectly dry but otherwise of no
special interest. After a short rest here we went down stairs at the
side opposite that on which we entered, into a passage leading to the
cave's first beauty, the Red Room. As the name indicates, the walls are
vividly colored and represent the uncertain line which separates the
Carboniferous strata from the Triassic rocks. The color is handsomely
brought out here in contrast with masses of calcite crystal, so as to
present by the combination a charmingly beautiful room, from which we
retired, feet first, down a "squeeze" to the Bridal Chamber, where we
found ourselves perched on an irregular narrow ledge, high up on the
wall, and cherishing a private conviction that exploration had met a
checkmate; but the guide reached the floor and my nephew, Herbert,
scrambled down with as much ease as the chipmunk he had chased to the
house top a while before; so a little application settled the difficulty
and re-united the party. The room is an artistic study in red, and the
only reason for its being called the Bridal Chamber is that the way out
is decidedly more rough and difficult than that by which the entrance is
effected; this, however, is an observation not based on official

Off to one side of this room is Lost Man's Paradise, also in red and
crystal, named in honor of the timely rescue of one who had faced the
possibility of becoming a lost soul.

Another Fat Man's Misery, on a lower level, leads from the Bridal
Chamber to the Big Dome, a large room with a fine dome-shaped ceiling
from which heavy masses of crystals have fallen to the floor; and down a
steep incline from here is Reef Rock, an immense fallen rock with box
work on the under side, which at one time served to ornament the
ceiling; and now this rock marks the beginning of Poverty Flat, a broad,
low passage of great extent, that has been robbed of all its wonderful
treasure of crystal and ends in a steep, rough declivity named Bunker
Hill by the guides who dreaded to mount it when going out loaded with
specimens. At the foot of the Hill is a bowlder of enormous size and
with a pointed top, known as Pyramid Rock and giving the same name to
the large room in which it stands.

Every portion of Crystal Cave has at one time been heavily crusted with
calcite crystals, mainly of the dog-tooth variety, and any barren places
are so either because the surface has been removed for specimens, or
thrown down by the violence of an earthquake. But where the latter has
been the cause of removal, the crystals have in most cases been renewed,
which is amply evidenced by the fallen masses being crystallized on all
sides; and these as well as most of the walls, are not covered thinly
with one crust, but layer has been added to layer until the thickness
is four to ten inches and often more. The ceilings that have been
denuded by nature's forces during the same early period when water
filled the cave were also renewed.

From the Pyramid Room a narrow fissure forms a passage to the Cactus
Chamber, where there is a marvelous floor on which the crystals are in
bunches like cacti, and the beautiful ceiling is the finest and most
irregular unbroken mass of crystal yet seen.

Passing through a round hole known as the Needle's Eye, we enter
Statuary Hall, where the latest inrush of water has eroded the sharp
points from the crystals, leaving only smooth surfaces, and at the same
time done much curious carving, the most conspicuous pieces of this work
being a bear and the heads of an Indian and his baby.

Out from the Hall are two important routes, one down the steep incline
of Beaver's Slide to The Catacombs, and another, which we followed
first, is through Rocky Run, a rough and rocky pass, to a large and
handsomely crystallized chamber called the I.X.L. Room, on account of
those three letters, over twelve inches in height, being distinctly and
conspicuously worked in crystal on a magnificent piece of box work that
would weigh nearly half a ton, for which an offer of five hundred
dollars is said to have been refused.

The next chamber beyond is Tilotson Hall, very large and extremely
rough, and named in honor of a teacher from the Normal School, who
delivered an address here that gave much pleasure to both visitors and

The way to farther advance is now more difficult and through a jagged
crevice of threatening appearance, but the trip is made in safety and
with comparative ease, and brings us into Notre Dame, one of the largest
chambers in the cave and perhaps the finest, although where so much is
fine that may be uncertain. The display of box work and crystal is
sufficiently gorgeous to do honor to the famous old cathedral of France,
the ceiling especially being a masterpiece of the builder's and
decorator's arts; but the grandest portion, which a visitor recently
returned from foreign travel called The Russian Castle, on account of
the magnificence of the large box work and pearly crystal masses, should
rather be known as the great cathedral's crowning glory, The Altar.

Another large room, the handsome Council Chamber, is entered just as
that Altar of pearl is lost to view; and from there an up-hill trip is
taken through a narrow crevice to Whale Flat, which is the natural
history room, with a large whale as the show specimen.

Going out from here we enter another crevice which serves as a steep
stairway descending to a lower level, and measures from top to bottom
one hundred and eighteen feet. This is called Rip Van Winkle's Stairway,
and although merely a high and crooked crack in the rock, is very
beautiful because heavily coated with crystal, the effect being
especially striking at the top where the crystal is partly worn away and
leaves exposed patches of red rock.

At the foot of the Stairway is the first room containing water, and is
called the Gypsy Camp. It is the most charming chamber yet visited, with
not the smallest spot of plain or common rock visible. The ceiling,
walls, floor, and groups of fallen rocks, are all unbroken masses of
pearly calcite in crystals of varied sizes, with here and there a patch
coated over with pure white carbonate of lime, or supporting a bunch of
fragile egg-shell, which is a thin, hollow crust of lime carbonate,
almost invariably having the pointed form of the dog-tooth spar. And
there are also beautiful mats and banks of dainty white carbonate
flowers. While waiting here for the guide to go in quest of the lunch we
had carelessly left behind, the time was utilized in measuring the room,
which is a small one. The size of the cave and our limited time for
seeing it, prevented much-desired measurements from being taken in all
parts of the cave.

This room was found to be forty-eight feet long, the irregular width
varied from fourteen to thirty feet and the height from four and
one-half to ten feet. The crystal water basin is especially beautiful
and the water so clear that we stood looking into it with
disappointment, being thirsty and thinking it dry, until the guide
laughingly dipped and offered a cupful. The basin is the segment of a
circle rounding beneath a massive, overhanging crystal ledge of
wonderful beauty, and is nine feet long by two in width. This room and
the Stairway into it are alone worthy of a visit, but there is much that
is finer still.

Out of Gypsy Camp by way of Gunny Sack Crawl, so named by the workmen
who spread gunny sacks to relieve the torture of crawling over the
beautiful floor of sharp crystals, we enter the first chamber, where
active operation is still maintained and certain branches of the great
decorative industry of the cave may be carefully studied. This operative
chamber, which is unnamed, would no doubt be called a factory in the
east, but in its own locality would more likely be referred to as The

The next chamber entered is Crystal Flat, whose floor is completely
covered with immense crystal blocks, and the wonderful crystal ceiling
is exceedingly fine. But time being limited we must pass on into the
Lake Room, where is Crystal Lake, the largest body of water in the cave.
It is about thirty feet long by fifteen wide and its greatest depth
is said to be ten feet. The water is cold and clear, and the gold fish
introduced as an experiment three years ago are said to have grown
rapidly but not yet turned white, and are not known to have become

[Illustration: The Bridal Veil. Page 187.]

At some little distance from Crystal Lake, and not within the same range
of vision, although in the same room, is Dry Lake, which to the surprise
of the guide we found to be not dry, but full of limpid water through
which we could distinctly see the delicate clusters of crystals it is
depositing. They are of a pale honey yellow and are called Gum-drops on
account of the resemblance to that variety of confection.

The name Dry Lake was given because in blasting out a passage a
misdirected shot went through the bottom of the Lake, which in
consequence was soon drained; but the heavily charged water has sealed
up the unfortunate break, and resumed its interrupted work. The ceiling
drops to a height of little more than three feet directly above the Lake
margin, and is a beautiful crystal mass, which at a little distance down
the sloping floor appears as the background for a fine piece of cave
statuary called The Bridal Veil, and formed of cream-tinted dripstone.
Not a great deal of imagination is required to see a slender girlish
figure completely enveloped in the flowing folds of a wedding veil that
falls lightly about her feet. The figure itself is three feet ten inches
in height and stands on an almost flat circular base of the same
material, that measures nine inches in depth and two feet eight inches
in diameter. At times the water rises sufficiently to cover the base, in
proof of which it left a fringe-like border of small sharp crystals,
such as could be formed only beneath the water's surface. Most of this
border has, unfortunately, been chiseled off for specimens, but will be
renewed in time if left undisturbed; and that condition can easily be
secured with a few feet of wire netting.

To one side of this room is a most daintily beautiful alcove so
profusely decorated with fragile forms of dripstone that a passage
through it without causing damage is extremely difficult. This alcove is
about twenty-five feet in either direction, with a sloping floor almost
covered with stalagmitic growths above the earlier deposit of sharp
crystals, and many of these rise in slender columns to the glass-like
ceiling, which varies in height from three to six feet and is thickly
studded with small stalactites of both varieties--the pointed, solid
form, and those of uniform size, which are always hollow like a pipe
stem. The central ornament is the Chimes, a musical group of stalactites
which is scarcely more beautiful than Cleopatra's Needle, at a
distance of a few feet to one side, a transparent column four feet
in height and having an average circumference of seventeen inches.

[Illustration: The Chimes. Page 188.]

[Illustration: The Needle. Page 188.]

[Illustration: Tower of Babel. Page 189.]

The Abode of the Fairies is a similar, though smaller room, with The
Tower of Babel for a handsome show-piece. While this portion of the cave
is extremely attractive, the measurements given show that in comparison
with caves of other states the drip deposit here is too small to be
reckoned an important feature in itself, but in conjunction with the
miles of calc-spar that give the cave a character distinctly its own, it
well repays all attention.

Leaving Lake Room we enter a newly opened, long, dry passage to Slab
Room, where a comparatively recent earthquake has shaken down the
ornamental ceiling and spread it in great slabs over the floor; and
having since remained perfectly dry it has the appearance of being the
work of yesterday. This room is remembered as the one in which a party
of workers were lost, and one of their number gave a severe nervous
shock to the junior proprietor by suggesting that as he was acting as
guide and unable to lead them out, it was only right that he should be
the first victim to satisfy their hunger. A rescuing party with
extinguished candles was listening behind a rock to the blood-curdling
speech, and came forward to restore cheerfulness.

A long, irregular, frosty looking crevice called Jack Frost Streak,
conducts us from Slab Room and ends at Mold Ladder, on which we pause to
admire a wonderful growth of snow-white cave vegetation, before
ascending into Santa Claus' Pass, the longest passage in the cave. It is
a rough crevice named from the fact of being discovered on Christmas
Eve, and ends at the Government Room on the main tourist route where a
U.S. pack saddle and apparently portable bath tub are conspicuous.

Next beyond is a very large room named New Zealand, on account or its
icy appearance and the undisputed possession of a seal. This room in
turn opens into Mold Chamber, where an old board platform, formerly used
for the display of specimens, has fostered the most marvelously
beautiful growth of mold: it hangs in ropes five and six feet long, with
tasseled ends, and in broad, looped draperies; but is most beautiful
where it has taken possession of the rocks and spreads out on the flat
surface like large open fans, with deep, soft feather borders.

Having been in the cave eight hours, we now followed the outward passage
from Mold Chamber and soon reached an open trap door where the guide
suggested to Herbert that he would be afraid to go down alone and allow
him to close the door; but the child surprised him by quietly stepping
down and then asking why he wished it, only to be told "because we are
coming too." Which we did and found ourselves in the main entrance
passage, and in due time returned to the outer world where a terrific
wind was roaring through the tall pines and the early winter evening had
already closed in dark.

The guide locked the cave, walked with us to the house where he lighted
a lamp and left us to prepare for the return to town; but the lamp,
belonging to a bachelor, was empty, so we made our preparations in
imitation of the blind. On the guide's return he lighted a candle, but
suggested that twenty minutes were generally allowed for reaching the

The house was accordingly closed and as we walked down the long, curving
slope to the stairway, he told of a new and unknown bob-tailed wolf that
has recently made its first appearance among the hills in considerable
numbers and to the terror of stock. It attacks and bites horses or
cattle, and after waiting for the fatal poison inflicted to take effect,
falls to and eats the victim.

The uncovered platform which serves as a station being reached a few
minutes before the train arrived, I expressed an unwillingness to detain
our guide longer on account of his having a walk of four and a half
miles to his home; but he declined to consider the subject; saying he
had been directed not to leave us until we were taken safely on the
train, which came sweeping round the curve on time and stopped for us.



According to agreement the guide again met us at the station on the
following morning, for another day in the cave, which we entered with no
unnecessary loss of time, and hurrying through the main entrance
passage, Government Room and Statuary Hall, went down Beaver Slide,
which, on the previous day, we had passed to enter Rocky Run. Our
descent into the crevice took us past those portions known as Suspension
Bridge and Rebecca's Well, and over some very "rough country" to the
most wonderful parts of the cave. Numerous passages open out in various
directions; one to rooms of frost work of great beauty; another to the
Ribbon Room where the drip deposits on the walls are in ribbon-like
stripes of red, yellow, and white, while others yet are ways to the
Catacombs. And it is the Catacombs we particularly wish to see, as they
most perfectly represent the individual character of the cave and have,
as yet, received no injury from either time or man; but is a region as
difficult to travel as the way of the transgressor, and many miles can
be traversed with no prospect of coming to the end. But where locomotion
is so slow and painful, the owner of a pedometer would find that
instrument a discouraging companion and soon learn better than to
consult its record publicly.

The Catacombs are a series of connected fissures and small crevices in
which every inch of exposed surface is covered with clear, translucent,
almost transparent, calcite crystals, neither coated with lime nor
stained with clay; nor even is the pearly lustre dimmed with the
slightest trace of dust. The crystals are very sharp and of all sizes,
ranging from half an inch to three and a half inches in length, the
larger sizes being conspicuously abundant. The entire region is an
enormously large, perfectly formed, and undamaged geode. In reality, the
whole cave is a great cluster of connected geodes, and a similar work
probably does not exist, but if it does, has never been discovered. The
fissures from which it is formed were opened by volcanic violence and
then enlarged, and afterwards decorated by the varied power of water, in
action or repose.

When the storms toward the close of the Tertiary period suddenly
overwhelmed with floods the dense growth of tropical vegetation and
multitudinous animal life in the Northwest, the waters necessarily
became heavily charged with the naturally resulting carbonic acid gas,
and this, acting on the limestone rocks, would decompose them, leaving a
residual clay and taking the chief portions of the mineral components in
solution, to be afterwards deposited according to circumstances and
conditions; and these are indicated by the various results found in Wind
Cave, Crystal Cave, the Onyx Caves and the Bad Lands. The latter being
previous to that time by no means "bad," but richly luxuriant in
tropical vegetation, which gave shelter from the heat to great numbers
of curious animals.

Some approximate idea of the extreme age of these caves may be gained
from the fact that bones of a three-toed horse have been discovered in a
chamber of Crystal Cave that must be practically unchanged since the
remains were carried in from the outside, as otherwise they would have
been buried beneath the fallen masses of crystal covered rock with which
the entire floor is cumbered. And yet this room is so remote from any
present connection with the outer world that it is impossible for their
introduction to have taken place in recent times.

In the beautiful Catacombs progress is as slow as in a cactus thicket or
a blackberry patch. The crevices lack none of the usual crevice
irregularities; high places must be mounted or descended, chasms crossed
and narrow passages crawled through, while extra caution must be
exercised to avoid striking the head or making a misstep that might
result in a fall. The hands are in constant use and soon become so
sensitive that holding a soft handkerchief gives infinite relief; but
the worst experience is the "crawls" where only the soles of the feet,
being temporarily turned up, seem safe from the savage treatment of the
sharp calcite dog-teeth. The worst crawl encountered was a small one
having a downward slope with a jump-off at the end which necessitated
its being taken feet first. Fortunately it was short. But in no place do
the difficulties outweigh the pleasure of beholding scenes of such
beauty, or suggest regret for the time, torn garments, and personal
exertion required for its enjoyment.

In many portions of the cave the surface layer of crystals has had the
points worn away by the action of water, later than that in which they
were formed; but in the Catacombs and other extensive regions as well,
the finished work of crystallization is preserved in an absolutely
perfect condition. And everywhere the largest crystals are on the under
side of a projection or the roof of a cavity.

As the day was passing far too rapidly and many points of special
interest yet remained unseen, we turned with reluctance from the beauty
and relief from the hardships of exploration in the Catacombs, and made
our way over a crevice into Santa Claus' Pass, which was traversed for
a considerable distance and then abandoned for a low crawl terminating
at the Senate Chamber. This is a large room extending to Poverty Flat,
and is brilliantly red and purely white, most of the crystal presenting
a smooth surface. Under the Senate Chamber there is said to be some fine
box work which we had no time to visit. The name of this chamber was
given by a visiting party composed of members of both houses of
Congress. A smaller room, which is really an extension of the Senate
Chamber, has handsome walls of white and red box work on account of
which the same distinguished party called it the Senate Post-office.

From here a difficult crawl, through red rock, well-worn by the action
of water, leads to the Starr Chamber, another large room in white and
red, and named by Senator Starr of South Dakota.

Opening out from the last room is a curious, dangerous looking, narrow,
crevice-chamber known as Suicide Room on account of the threatening
appearance of over-hanging rocks, some of which have at times fallen in
great masses of various sizes to form an irregular floor; and a descent
of this is necessary in order to reach a short and extremely rough
crawl, beautifully and painfully decorated with sharp crystals above and
below and on the sides. From this we emerge into Rainy Chamber, an
elliptical room not less than two hundred feet long by one hundred feet
wide, with a tent-like ceiling rising high in the center and sloping
down to meet the floor, which also slopes irregularly toward a deep
central depression, giving the room a greater height than any other
visited. The high points are generally seen in the narrow crevices,
while the rooms of generous length and breadth are usually low, many of
the largest having an average of five feet or even less.

Although there is frequent intersection of crevices, and each chamber
has passages leading out on every side, the general direction of the
cave is said to be northwest-southeast.

Rainy Chamber is named from the fact that during the early months of
summer water falls constantly in the form of a light shower; but it
drips at all times, and in consequence there is an opportunity to study
the active process of formation of one of the deposits which is very
abundant in Wind Cave and considered the most perplexing. This is the
pop-corn, and the theories of its origin have been steadily rejected at
Wind Cave because of a doubt being entertained as to whether it has been
deposited under water or by drippings. Here in Rainy Chamber it is fully
explained. Near the center of the room the fallen masses are heavily
crystallized, much of the groundwork being fine box work and the
crystals in perfect condition. On these crystals the pop-corn is being
formed, and specimens can be seen in all stages of development, from the
beginning to an approximate degree of finish; and whatever the position
it occupies on the receiving surface, either on top, underneath, or on a
side exposure, it always maintains the same relative position as growing
plants on the mundane sphere. The water falling on the upper surface in
scattering drops forms myriads of minute stalagmites; on side positions
the falling drop first strikes the point exposed to its line of descent
and then spreads. The scant moisture slowly makes its way down sloping
sides and shelving edges, leaving on each small irregularity a tiny
portion of its volume, to deposit an infinitely small charge of solid
substance, and the balance finally hangs in moisture less than drops on
the growing grains of the under surface.

Pop-corn, therefore, is the globular aragonite of the stalagmitic
variety. A small specimen from Rainy Chamber, placed beside one of the
same color from Wind Cave, shows them to be absolutely alike.

Rainy Chamber is the room in which the bones of the three-toed horse,
already referred to, were found, but their presence has not yet been
explained; therefore the case is open to conjecture and several
theories may be advanced and their values considered. The first question
when such a discovery is made, is whether the living animal was possibly
a cave-dweller; which, as the horse was not, is quickly disposed of and
attention turned to the next, the possibility of a carniverous animal
having carried his prey into the dark recesses of the cave in order that
the enjoyment of his dinner might be undisturbed. This theory is equally
unavailable by reason of the topographical features presented. If the
present natural entrance to the cave were the only way into this room
from the outside, the distance was too great and beset with many
difficulties; besides which the final passage is too small to admit an
animal of sufficient size to carry any considerable portion of even a
very small horse. But if at that period the room had direct
communication with the outside through an opening since closed, the
shape of the walls indicate that it must have been a pot-hole in the
roof, and through this an animal could have entered by falling, which
the horse and others may have done. But it seems most probable that the
remains were carried in by the water through such a hole before it was
closed at the beginning of the Quaternary period, when the erosion of
the Hills was most active.

Rainy Chamber also contains a large and beautiful assortment of the
small polished and coated pebbles called cave pearls.

The guide being anxious that we should not fail to see the Niagara Room,
we now turned toward a low, broad opening in the wall, a short distance
to the right of the entrance, where the rising floor and descending
ceiling, failing to meet, had overlapped; so we made our way up a steep,
smooth bank, and then down on the other side over a broken, rocky
surface for a distance of about twenty feet, when the roof at last
joined the floor and two small water-worn holes at the point of junction
revealed an untempting passage within. The broader of these holes was
three feet, but too low to be considered an entrance; the other was
round but certainly not so large as our guide, who was preparing to
enter it with doubts of his ability to make the trip, on account of
having increased in size since his one entrance there, on which occasion
two smaller guides pulled him through the tightest places. Carefully
comparing his size with that of the hole he sat beside, there was no
possibility of doubt that if the attempt were made he would stick fast,
and that would place our little party in dire straits. Consequently I
insisted that it should not be, but he was unwilling that Niagara should
be missed when so near. Finally I positively refused to go unless he
would consent to give us instructions and remain where he was while we
went without him, to which he at last yielded with extreme
unwillingness. He had frequently shown us the guide's marks, and now
earnestly cautioned me to advance only as they point, and turn back if
they should fail.

The small nephew went on a reconnoitering expedition to the end of the
passage, and reported that the jump-off there was higher than himself
but he could get down. I now crawled through the hole and found the
passage to be a "crawl" or rather a "sprawl," from fifteen to eighteen
inches high, but having an ample width varying from three to six feet.
The smooth, straight floor has a steep downward inclination and is
thickly covered with dust.

Having reached the widest portion, which is near the end, Herbert
directed me to turn, so as to come down the jump-off feet first, where
there was a little difficulty in landing, as the perpendicular wall,
which proved to be almost five feet high, offered only one projecting
help, and that within a few inches of the base; but in obedience to his
advice to "reach one foot a little farther down and then drop," I
advanced the right one, to be told not that, but the other, and was soon
down where it was possible to observe with interest that the right foot
had been swinging above an open fissure. We stood in a wide crevice
running at right angles to the obnoxious passage we had just quit, and
immediately found a guide's mark on a large rock, and others followed at
intervals of a few feet over extremely "rough country" as the guides
say. Everywhere the work of water was apparent, not in the crystal
deposits of still water as in other portions of the cave, but the
erosion due to its rushing through. Carefully following the marks, they
led into a cross-crevice that took us under Rainy Chamber, and ends
there by widening into a circular chamber of about fifty feet width in
either direction, and rising to a height of nearly fifty feet in a fine
dome. Down the wall from near the top of the dome there appears to flow
a beautiful waterfall showing a variety of colors in the straight lines,
as if from refraction. The fall is, of course, dripstone, and I knew we
had found Niagara, although we had gone beyond the reach of the guide's
voice almost at the start. A huge rock directly under the dome has
received the falling drip until it represents a mountain cataract. These
deposits testify to the great age of the chamber they adorn, as they
were necessarily not commenced until all heavy flow ceased, and in
Crystal Cave the accumulation of dripstone is so slow that it is said
six years' observation can detect no increase whatever.

Several small passages at the floor level gave exit to the great volume
of water that evidently at one time entered this crevice, from Rainy
Chamber, by the route we followed, and being checked in its course the
lower end of the crevice became filled, under pressure; and the low
position of the outlets gave this water a whirling motion that in time
excavated the dome-shaped room.

No part of Crystal Cave has ever been occupied by a river, but its
fissures, opened by the violence of earth movements accompanying nearby
volcanic disturbances, have been filled more than once by the inrush of
waters which repeatedly submerged the whole Black Hills region.

Following again the marks which guided us into Niagara Room, we soon
came within hailing distance of a voice expressive of profound relief;
and as we crawled up the sloping passage, over-heated and breathless
with the exertion, the guide assured us he was most truly thankful to
see us again, as he had never in his life experienced so severe a scare
as since it had occurred to him that we had gone beyond the limits of
communication without a single match.

He also said I had been where no lady had ever gone before, and took
satisfaction in the fact that many men have refused to make the venture
with a guide.

Leaving this portion of the cave, by returning as we came, through
Suicide Room, Starr Chamber, and Senate Chamber, we crawled along the
rocks overhanging a narrow fissure, to reach a ladder at the end, by
which we descended to another part of the Catacombs. Here, after
traveling a long distance over uneven floors covered with sharp
crystals, as were all surfaces, through large, low rooms, and narrow,
crooked passages, constantly assisting the difficult advance with our
hands, like monkeys, we finally came to The Grotto, which is probably
the most remarkable room in this very remarkable cave. It is a large
room, with much of the irregular ceiling so low that even the small
nephew struck his head severely while turning to warn me, as he often
did, of threatening inequalities in the floor and light them with his
own candle. The crystals here are exceptionally fine, being very sharp
and of unusual size, besides many of them being double--that is, pointed
at both ends. Through this beautiful ceiling there is a percolating drip
adding stalactites to the crystal-points and piling stalagmites on the
crystal masses below, varying this with imitation cascades, mats of
small flowers, and masses of pop-corn. Off to one side in a kind of
recess there is a depression in the crystal floor filled with clear,
cold water.

A glance at the time now showed us to be in danger of failure to meet
the train to town, and consequently, tired as we were after nine hours
of rough travel and much climbing, it was necessary to make our way out
with more speed than comfort, and we found the weather turning very
cold. The cave was carefully locked, preparations for the train
hurriedly made, the house closed, and as we left it the train could be
heard coming down the cañon, but we arrived at the station first, though
breathless, and a few minutes later were in Piedmont, too tired to
properly enjoy a hot venison supper.

As to the size of Crystal Cave, it is impossible to make any positive
statement; for as Mr. McBride, the proprietor, says, no survey has yet
been made. Other persons said that thirty-six miles is the greatest
claim made for the combined length of all passages, and sixteen miles
the least, so it may be wise to accept the lesser number until a survey
proves it wrong.

The box work in Crystal Cave is not of such great abundance as to demand
special attention, but is very beautiful, and one variety deserves
particular mention. These boxes have been formed in dark red sandstone,
and after being emptied of their original contents, have been completely
filled with colorless calcite crystals, and over this is spread an outer
surface of the same crystals tinted a brilliant flame color by red
paint-clay having been taken in solution by the crystal forming waters.
A specimen of this was a temptation too great to be resisted even in the
owner's absence.

Some of the box work is of such size that a single box may have a
capacity equal to that of a bushel measure, but it is less beautiful
than the smaller forms.

On the following morning we left Piedmont, and having a desire for
greater personal knowledge of the Hills, took the same train which had
taken us to the cave, and traveled to its western terminus, Lead City.
The interesting scenery makes this a desirable trip for any one visiting
the Hills, but its beauty is chiefly massed at the ends, the middle
distance being over gradually rising ground, which is without a
counterpart of the rocky cañon left behind or more than a suggestion of
the high hills yet to come. The special charm of this portion was the
magnificent pine forest which covered it until three years ago, when it
was swept by a terrible fire, from which the settlers escaped with only
their lives; and even that would have been impossible if the railroad
company had not kept refuge trains waiting for them just ahead of the
flames. The prominent geological feature here is the porphyry dikes,
which are becoming more numerous and more prominent, and in many places
resemble a conspicuous group near Harney Peak, called The Needles. These
dykes are of special interest in connection with a study of the caves,
since they are probably of simultaneous origin.

The same volcanic movements that caused the violent upheaval of the
whole region, and thrust up molten masses through the strata to form a
central core to the Hills, must also have rent the nearby regions with
fissures through which probably much gas escaped, and having been
further opened and then adorned, now demand our attention as caves of
unique and curious beauty.

The approach to Lead is over the hill-tops with a magnificent distant
view, and the first glimpses of that young city famous for having as a
center the Homestake mine, the largest gold mine in the world, are
charming. It is situated far down in a valley among the high hills and
spreads some distance up the surrounding slopes.

The works of the great mine are wonderful, and visitors welcome to
examine whatever they find interesting; any questions they wish to ask
are graciously answered, although every one is busy. This is not a
special favor to the exceptional few, but the courtesy shown to all.
Visitors are also welcome to descend into the mine, but as an attendant
is necessary on account of dangers to be avoided, a permit must be
obtained at the office.

Several other caves have been discovered in the Black Hills, the largest
of which is the Davenport Cave at Sturgis. Very little exploration has
yet been done in it, but indications are said to be that it will take
rank among the large ones.

At Galena, a new mining town of golden promise, there is reported to be
an Ice Cave, where ice forms at all seasons, and during the warm weather
is a source of comfort and pleasure to the miners.

In the evening, as train time for continuing the homeward journey
approached, the snow storm which began gently early in the afternoon,
grew steadily more severe. A carriage to the depot was not to be had, as
every vehicle in town had gone to the funeral of an old-timer in the
Hills and the return delayed by the storm. The situation could not be
regarded as a special pleasure, but cave hunters learn to accept
whatever is and be thankful for the general average. At the last moment,
however, a team was driven up and permission given us to make use of it.
It proved to be the private conveyance of the hotel proprietor, and the
young boy who accompanied us, his son.

Our train was on time, and the ride through the Hills to their southern
limit, in the falling snow, was wonderfully beautiful; but the storm
continued for many days and was one of the most severe on record.

Those persons who have been so unfortunate as to permit themselves to
accept a ready made opinion of dangers and roughness to be met with in
the more newly settled regions, might find a tour of the Hills doubly
interesting by making a supplementary study of "The Living Age," which
cannot be so correctly viewed from a distance as is sometimes supposed,
since the specimens exhibited are not always a true average of the
strata they are supposed to represent.



After a visit to the marvelous caverns of the Black Hills, much may be
added to the pleasure already enjoyed, through the explanatory activity
of the Yellowstone National Park, where even the wonderful combinations
of beauty and grandeur are by no means the full measure of attraction
and charm. Here is found evidence to verify theories concerning the
caves, and those theories in turn contribute in no small degree to a
satisfactory understanding of the mysteries of geyser action. For
scientific study the two regions should be taken together, since the
natural conditions are practically the same, and the chief difference
lies in the stages of development; the present of the Park explaining
the recent past of the Hills, while the present of the Hills foretells
the future of the Park. It seems that Nature, with a full appreciation
of the limits and restrictions binding our powers to penetrate certain
secrets of an intermittent force, has in this great western country
carefully prepared what might quite properly be termed a progressive
course of study, wherein each locality makes plain a special point that
somewhere else appears obscure.

As has been said in the preceding chapters, the two great caves in the
Black Hills of South Dakota cannot be accounted for by the same methods
as are recognized as being responsible for the slow excavation of the
best known caves of the United States. Although there is every
indication that both these caves have been subject to the action of
enormous volumes of water, there is equally positive evidence that
neither was ever the scene of a flowing cave-river. The lowest levels in
both show the narrowest fissures and the heaviest deposits of crystal,
by which we infer that the water was held in confinement here, while all
the higher passages or channels bear witness to the water's flow. But
many of these channels in Crystal Cave, or indeed we might say, most of
them, present an unmistakable record of the gauge of the water stage at
different periods. During the earlier time, when the volume of water and
consequent pressure were greatest, frictional motion must have been
limited to the main channel connecting with the vent, and the high gauge
of water maintained a fairly uniform degree of heat near its surface. In
consequence of these conditions geyser action, probably, was constant,
and chemical activity was such that great chambers were formed and then
decorated, as already described, with wonderful masses of crystal. As
the water gauge receded to lower levels the higher chambers became
storage basins for water and steam forced up by the pressure from below,
and the time required for these to fill and accumulate sufficient
pressure to continue the ejectment, formed the periods between eruptions
after the geyser became intermittent. It was during this stage that the
sharp crystals in many of the channels, now called passages, were worn
down to smooth surfaces; and later, when water occupied only the lowest
level, and the great geyser had become reduced to merely a steam vent,
the channels immediately connecting with that level were in their turn
subjected to the same smoothing process, and then all action ceased.

As no two of the glorious geysers of the Yellowstone Park are alike,
neither do the two great caves of the Hills indicate that they should be
so. The vent-tubing of each is quite unlike that of the other in all the
essential governing points of length, size, shape, angle of inclination
and power-conserving bends. And the differences extend in an almost
equally marked degree throughout the vast and complicated succession of
storage chambers and their connecting channels. The small vent of Wind
Cave shows that the ejected jet was far from being equal to that of the
Crystal Cave in volume; but the nearly perpendicular long arm of its
tube shows also that its jet attained a much greater height, even
supposing that it should be necessary to make some allowance for a short
elbow at the top.

Dr. Hayden's geological party gave much attention to the Yellowstone
Park while its wonders were new to the world, and observations were made
at various times during the period included between the years 1869 and
1870. The special study, and full report of the geysers became the duty
of Dr. A.C. Peal, whose descriptions and conclusions were published in
U.S. Geological Survey Report, 1878, Part II. In the final pages of his
report he quotes the leading authorities on geyser action, and applies
the principles of their theories, according to his own judgment, to the
geysers of the park. Since copies of this report are not now easily
obtained, nor even always accessible to the increasing number of
personages who visit the park, it may be well to quote from him some of
the theories he discussed and the opinions he expressed. On page 416,
beginning the chapter with the derivation of the word geyser from the
Icelandic word _geysa_--to gush, he continues:

"We now come to the definition of a geyser. It may be defined to be a
periodically eruptive or intermittent _hot_ spring, from which the water
is projected into the air in a fountain-like column. The analogy between
geysers and volcanoes has frequently been noticed and the former have
often been described as volcanoes which erupt heated water instead of
melted lava. We have italicized the word hot in the definition just
given, because springs containing a large amount of gas may simulate

"The difference between geysers and ordinary hot springs is not readily
explained, nor even always recognized. The difference between a quiet
thermal spring and a geyser in active eruption is very marked, but
between the two there is every grade of action. Some geysers appear as
quiet springs, as for instance the Grand Geyser during its period of
quiescence. Others might easily be mistaken for constantly boiling
springs, as in the case of the Giant Geyser, in which the water is
constantly in active ebullition. This is true also of the Strockr of
Iceland. Many of the springs, therefore, that in the Yellowstone Park
have been classed as constantly boiling springs may be unsuspected
geysers. The Excelsior Geyser was not discovered to be a geyser until
eight years after the setting aside of the park. Almost all constantly
boiling springs have periods of increased activity, and those which
spurt a few feet into the air have been classed as pseudo-geysers.

"It has been noticed that geysers occur where the intensity of volcanic
action is decreasing. In the neighborhood of active volcanoes, such as
Vesuvius, the temperature appears to be too high, and the vapor escapes
as steam from what are called stufas. When the rocks at the surface are
more cooled the water comes forth in liquid form.

"We will now pass to the various geyser theories that have been proposed
by different writers."

Dr. Peal then proceeds to give the theories of Sir J. Herschell and Sir
George McKenzie, but as they are accepted and extended by others, we may
pass on to Bischof's, of which Dr. Peal says: "Very similar to
McKenzie's theory is the one adopted by Bischof in his Researches on the
Internal Heat of the Globe (pages 227, 228). It is really the theory of
Krug Von Nidda, who examined the geyser in 1833. Bischof says:

"'He (Krug Von Nidda) takes it for granted that these hot springs derive
their temperature from the aqueous vapors rising from below. When these
vapors are able to rise freely in a continued column the water at the
different depths must have a constant temperature equal to that at which
water would boil under the pressure existing at the respective depths;
hence the constant ebullition of the permanent springs and their boiling
heat. If, on the other hand, the vapors be prevented by the complicated
windings of its channels from rising to the surface; if, for example,
they be arrested in caverns, the temperature in the upper layers of
water must necessarily become reduced, because a large quantity of it is
lost by evaporation at the surface, which cannot be replaced from below.
And any circulation of the layers of water at different temperatures, by
reason of their unequal specific gravities, seems to be very much
interrupted by the narrowness and sinuousity of the passage. The
intermitting springs of Iceland are probably caused by the existence of
caverns, in which the vapor is retained by the pressure of the column of
water in the channel which leads to the surface. Here this vapor
collects, and presses the water in the cavern downward until its elastic
force becomes sufficiently great to effect a passage through the column
of water which confines it. The violent escape of the vapor causes the
thunder-like subterranean sound and the trembling of the earth which
precedes each eruption. The vapors do not appear at the surface until
they have heated the water to their own temperature.

"'When so much vapor has escaped that the expansive force of that which
remains has become less than the pressure of the confining column of
water, tranquility is restored, and this lasts until such a quantity of
vapor is again collected as to produce a fresh eruption. The spouting of
the spring is therefore repeated at intervals, depending on the
capacity of the cavern, the height of the column of water, and the heat
generated below.'" Dr. Peal continues:

"Bishof says that the eruptions of the Geyser and Strockr agree exactly
with this explanation and he accounts for the two distinct classes of
eruption observed in the Geyser as follows:

"'The two distinct classes of eruption in the geyser which we have
already mentioned seem to be attributable to two different cavities. A
small cavity fills quicker, and, therefore, empties itself more
frequently; a larger one fills slower, empties itself seldomer, but with
greater violence.'"

Bunsen's theory is the next considered and is somewhat similar to
Bischof's but with notable differences. After taking temperatures at
different points in the Geyser tube his first conclusions are that:

(1) The temperature in the geyser tube increases as we descend.

(2) At no point does the water in the tube attain the temperature of
ebullition which it should have under the pressure to which it is
subjected, but the temperature depends on the time that has elapsed
since the last eruption. As a great eruption comes near it approaches
the boiling point.

(3) At the depth of about forty-five feet the difference between the
temperature of the water and the calculated boiling point for that
pressure is the least.

The main point of his theory appears to be that an eruption takes place
when the water in the tube reaches the boiling point, and to account for
it, "He supposes that the column in the central tube communicates by a
long and sinuous channel with some space, be it what it may, which is
subjected to the action of the direct source of subterranean heat. The
temperature gets raised above the boiling point, due to the pressure,
and a sudden generation of steam is the result. This steam rises in the
column of water, which, being cooler, causes it to condense. Gradually
the heat of the water is raised until the water of the channel must
boil, and the steam therefore cannot condense, but must accumulate and
acquire a gradually increasing tension. The condensation of the bubbles
possesses a periodic character, and to this is due the uplifting of the
water in what Bunsen calls conical water hills, which are accompanied by
the subterranean explosions."

Prof. Comstock is quoted as thinking "Bunsen's theory has not yet been
proved adequate to explain the more prominent features of geyser
eruptions. Nor does it, in his opinion, account for all the differences
between geysers and hot springs, and he proposes a structural
hypothesis which combines Bischof's and Bunsen's theories."

This hypothesis is illustrated by a figure in which a reservoir partly
filled with water is connected with the surface by a tube having a
double curve, and he explains that the water collecting in the depressed
curve should confine the steam, rising from the reservoir in the other
curve until the pressure is sufficient to cause an eruption. His theory
of action being that the water in the reservoir remains in equilibrium
at a certain level, and the constant heat fills the space above with
vapor, which heats the water held in the downward bend of the tube, and
that also evolves vapor which fills the balance of the tube to the vent.
When the combined pressure of this vapor and water are overcome by the
expansion of vapor accumulated above the reservoir, they are forced out,
and followed by a portion of the water of the reservoir. This theory is
in the report of Captain Jones on Northwestern Wyoming.

The last theory cited by Dr. Peal is that of S. Baring-Gould, "Who
visited the Iceland geysers in 1863, and thinks that a bent tube is
sufficient to explain the action of the Great Geyser. He took an iron
tube and bent it in an angle of 110°, keeping one arm half the length of
the other. He filled the tube with water and placed the short arm in the
fire. For a moment the surface of the liquid remained quiet, and then
the pipe began to quiver; a slight overflow took place, without any sign
of ebullition, and then suddenly, with a throb, the whole column was
forced high into the air. With a tube, the long arm of which measured
two feet and the bore of which was three-eighths of an inch, he sent a
jet to the height of eighteen feet. Steam is generated in the short arm
and presses down the water, causing an overflow until the steam bubble
turns the angle, when it forces out the column in the long arm with
incredible violence."

Dr. Peal now goes on to say:

"Of the theories that we have just enumerated, perhaps no one is
adequate to explain all the phenomena of geyser action. Bunsen's theory
comes nearest to it, and in the simplest kinds of geysers is a
sufficient explanation. The variations and modifications in the geyser
tubes and subterranean water passages must undoubtedly be important
factors entering into any complete explanation of geyser action. Now, of
course, we can see what the conditions are at the surface, but in our
experiments we can penetrate to a very inconsiderable distance. We have,
therefore, no data to present on these points, and investigations of
this branch of the subject will have to be carried on in an artificial
manner; that is artificial geysers will have to be constructed, and
various modifications made in the tubes until results are reached
analogous to those seen in natural geysers. If water in a glass tube be
heated with rapidity from the bottom, it will be expelled from the tube
violently, and if boiled in a kettle which has a lid and a spout, either
the lid will be blown off or the water will be forced out through the
spout. The first case is an illustration, in part at least, of Bunsen's
theory, and the second exemplifies the theories which presuppose the
existence of subterranean cavities with tubes at or near the surface.
According to the former we must suppose that the layer of rock,
extending seventy-five to seventy-seven feet below the surface, contains
sufficient heat to account for geyseric phenomena; or else that the
geyser tube has some opening, either at the bottom or on the sides, by
which steam and superheated water have access to it from a considerably
greater depth where the temperature is very high. At these depths
caverns probably exist." * * * *

"That such cavities exist is more than probable. On page 405 I have
indicated my belief, that all geysers are originally due to a violent
outburst of steam and water, and under such conditions, irregular
cavities and passages are more likely to be formed than regular
tubes." * *

"In view of what we have just written, Bunsen's conclusion (No. 2)
would have to be modified somewhat. His conclusion was that at no point
in the tube did the water attain the temperature of ebullition which it
should have under the pressure to which it is subjected. As far as this
relates to the straight tube in which his temperatures were taken, it
may be so; but if he could have taken temperatures in the side conduit,
I have little doubt he would soon have reached a point where the
temperature would not only be at the boiling point for that depth but
even exceed it. In the Yellowstone Park we obtained a number of surface
temperatures which were above the boiling point. In the Great Geyser of
Iceland, the mass of water in the tube prevents this condition at the
surface, and when it takes place opposite the aperture an eruption is
caused. In the main, however, I am inclined to accept Bunsen's theory,
especially as it seems to me to require subterranean cavities in which
the water must be heated. Whether these are caverns, enlargements of
tubes, or sinus channels, appears to me to be of no consequence, except
as the interval or period of the geyser might be affected by the form of
the reservoir holding the water."

Dr. Peal has reached conclusions which present an imaginary picture of
the interior structure of the great geysers of the Park, that bears a
striking resemblance to what the two caves of the Black Hills prove to
be the true conditions; although it is evident he had in mind caverns of
no such vast extent, nor of so complicated a system of cavities and
tubes. He overlooked an important feature, however, in not accepting
Professor Comstock's idea of the tube having a double curve. The double
curve is, or was, conspicuous in both the caves. Unfortunately, its
perfection in Wind Cave was necessarily partially sacrificed to make the
passage traversable for visitors; but in describing the enormous labor
of opening up the cave, Mr. McDonald showed how an arching "crawl" had
been worked down by blasting, and the depression beyond filled to raise
it to the desired level for securing the present easy passage at the
bottom of the main tube, which is the entrance passage. This double
curve in the tube is simply the rough original of the S trap of sanitary
plumbing. In both caves it is somewhat irregular and deformed, but the
familiar "trap" is easily recognized. The destruction of one of the
Yellowstone geysers was, no doubt, due to the breaking of the S. One of
the many reasons for establishing military control over the Park is said
to have been the disastrous results following the introduction of a
large quantity of soap into the geyser to cause a premature eruption.
The impatience of the party was rewarded by an eruption accompanied by
explosions that shook the earth for a great distance, and the geyser has
not been seen in action since.

Dr. Peal finds the theories advanced for the generation of steam
unsatisfactory and insufficient, especially in the class of geysers
having a long steam period. He says: (page 423)

"The Castle Geyser differs from Old Faithful and the Bee Hive mainly in
the fact that it has a long steam period, during which the steam pours
out or is pushed from the geyser throat with great violence and a
terrific noise. There appear to be only two possible explanations of
this difference, viz., either an accumulation of immense volumes of
steam in the Castle, or an instantaneous formation of steam throughout
the length of the geyser tube. The former, to our mind, is untenable,
because it seems impossible that the water, which is exhausted in
fifteen minutes, should exert enough power to keep down the immense
amount of steam that escapes for more than an hour. According to
Bunsen's theory, it can be readily explained. The relief afforded by the
first part of the eruptions allows the superheated water to rise
rapidly, and before it can reach the top or orifice of the tube it is
all converted into steam from the top downward with inconceivable
rapidity, and must be forced out with the terrific violence which is
noted in the case of the Castle. On page 208 we have expressed the
opinion that it is the oldest geyser in the region, and it seems to us
that a greater length in the tube, with a consequent greater supply of
water, will account for the difference between the Castle and Old
Faithful, the latter of which we consider one of the youngest geysers in
the Upper Geyser Basin."

A study of the Caves in connection with the active Geysers indicates
that the theory he suggests and then rejects, is probably the true
explanation of the difference between the two kinds of geysers. It seems
that the length of the tube must necessarily have more effect on the
height of the jet than on the generation of steam; as after an eruption
the tube is hotter than at any other time and therefore the generation
of steam in it should be less than usual, unless the fresh inflow of
water was cold. Then if the storage cavities are broad but low, the
steam cannot accumulate above the water; but when the pressure becomes
sufficient to force a passage through the tube, the water and steam are
expelled together until the pressure is exhausted. But if the storage
chambers are vertical fissures, as Wind Cave illustrates, vast
quantities of steam must accumulate above the water level in the main
reservoirs before the pressure can become sufficient to expel the water
in the tube, after which steam alone continues to rush out until the
pressure is so relieved that it can no longer force a passage through
the water remaining in the trap, when quiet is restored. By the constant
addition of fresh water from the surface, by percolation or other usual
ways of sinking, the necessary conditions for the generation of steam
are maintained with surprising regularity.

The differences in the shape and general arrangement of the cavities and
tubes of the two caves, indicate that their action as geysers was very
unlike. Wind Cave evidently sent a rather slender column to a great
height, nearly perpendicular, and the water eruption was followed by a
long steam period. Crystal Cave ejected a much larger jet more
frequently, at a low angle of inclination, the eruption was sooner over,
and was not followed by a steam period of any consequence.

Thus it can be seen that the caves of the Black Hills prove the theories
in regard to geyser action in Yellowstone Park, and those theories, in
turn, prove the past history of the caves. The study of geyser action
also shows that the conical or dome shape of some of the cave chambers
is not due to the whirl of incoming floods, as in other regions, but to
jets of water forced up from lower levels.

Perhaps the finest geyser basin, and possible cave, ever in existence
was destroyed when the Grand Cañon of the Yellowstone became a cañon.
Evidences of the former conditions in control of this gorgeously
brilliant scene are neither wanting nor doubtful. Steam constantly
issues from numerous small vents in the cañon walls, and a field glass
reveals miniature geysers in action down in the depth of the cañon,
nearly half a mile below the top of the wall; while the entire cañon
shows, in both the color and character of its rocks, that chemical
agencies have wrought changes here that have not been effected in other
exposures of similar nature. It seems not improbable that the relation
of Yellowstone River to the Grand Cañon was the same as, at the present
time, is that of the Firehole to the Upper, Middle, and Lower Geyser
Basins: and that an explosion of great force was followed by a general
collapse instead of the usual eruption of one of the grandest geysers;
one result being the sudden precipitation of the river into a new,
beautiful, and totally unexpected channel. After its great leap of two
hundred and ninety-seven[6] feet at the Lower Fall, the river flows in a
brilliant, narrow line of emerald green, broken by the white foam of
frequent cascades, between magnificent walls of yellow, white, pink, and
red of most vivid hues.


[6] Measurement by the Hayden Party.

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