Maps of the curious caves operating beneath St. Louis neighborhoods

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – There are caves beneath a number of neighborhoods in St. Louis however the precise location of the tunnels stays a thriller to most individuals. For over a century spelunkers, map makers, brewers, scientists, and vacationers have explored the caverns. They may have even been a part of the Underground Railroad. However, we nonetheless don’t know so much about them and it’s attainable that we by no means will.

Misplaced Caves of St. Louis

Many of the caves of St. Louis have been sealed off, crammed in, or collapsed on function. Cherokee Cave is likely one of the few recognized survivors. However, the Missouri Speleological Survey says that there are 38 caves that stay within the metropolis. The entrance to English Cave was recently re-discovered.

“The Lost Caves of St. Louis” was published in 1996. The e book reveals the approximate areas of 21 caverns snaking by the town. A preview of the tome is available on Google Books. It reveals the areas of lots of the different caves that dot the world. However, they give attention to Cherokee Cave as a result of it’s so spectacular.

Newbie historian Dr. William Swekosky described the caves situated in southeastern neighborhoods in a 1947 letter. He mentioned that there have been sheds and buildings with entry to caves like Minnehaha Cave, Lemp Cave, George Schneider Cave, and English Cave. A few of them have been utilized by breweries to retailer beer earlier than refrigeration.

“In Benton Park, previously a Metropolis Cemetery for indigents, there’s a lake. Previously, the lake out of the blue disappeared in a single day right into a cave beneath it. The opening was plugged in lots of instances,” writes Dr. William Swekosky. “I consider that the caves named after the house owners of floor above them are only one giant cave that has by no means been explored.”

The DeMenil Mansion stands near the unique entrance to the Minnehaha Cave. A portion of the cave system was open to the general public like Meramec Caverns is at the moment. Handrails for vacationers are nonetheless within the caves. However for security and authorized causes most individuals are saved out. It was sealed off in 1961 when Interstate 55 was constructed and parts of the caverns have been crammed in. However, among the caverns stay intact.

KETC-TV toured a portion of the caves in 1998. You may see the tour within the video hooked up to this story. Dwelling St. Louis Producer Jim Kirchherr went with cave explorer Earl Hancock on an official mission to take extra photos of the cave for an archive. They went in by one of many Lemp Brewery entrances.

The cave system was mapped extensively within the 1960’s earlier than the freeway began operating by it. Hancock mentioned that there are round 2,400 ft of explored passages which might be about 12 ft excessive.

After the Lemp household stopped utilizing it to retailer beer, they used a portion of it as a theatre. It was outfitted with lights for the performers and viewers. The Lemp household additionally had a swimming pool within the cave. It was for the household and visitors.

There are many maps of the cave system however a lot of them are incomplete. Websites listed on the maps have fascinating names like The Dragon and the Pit of Loss of life.

“The ‘Pit of Loss of life’ is the northward continuation of this passage and has been explored about 100 ft. South of the junction is the ‘Dragon’s Den’, an fascinating accent lateral passage about 75 ft lengthy. You may all however see utterly by it,” states a portion of the 1956 description of the system The Caves of Missouri.

The maps and names are so eccentric that some Dungeons and Dragons players have steered utilizing them as the idea for a few of their quests:


In 2018 the Missouri Speleological Survey group from St. Louis gained the Benefit Award from the Cartographic Salon for their work on the Cherokee Cave system. It reveals the place the cave is beneath St. Louis neighborhoods on each side of I-55. They have a 53-page report that includes new data and pictures plus their award-winning map of the cave.

The MSS’s Liaison newsletter describes the new map:

“Up to date model of his Cherokee Cave map with prolonged profiles by the cave and a nifty overlay of metropolis streets and interstate that show the demise of the industrial operation of this cave. When Interstate-55 development ran by the town it reduce off the industrial entrance path. Good historic and geographic notes have been additionally printed on the map. Dan’s map contains prolonged profiles alongside the passages which have been beforehand not obtainable.”

That is an outdated model of the Cherokee Cave map from theMSS. It’s situated close to the intersection of Demenil Place and Cherokee Road.

https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/maps-of-the-curious-caves-running-under-st-louis-neighborhoods/ | Maps of the curious caves operating beneath St. Louis neighborhoods

Huynh Nguyen

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