Table Rock Lake

Caves & Other Such Dark Holes in the Earth

“It seems to be a realm of mystery. There are caverns penetrating the hills from which quaint echoes resound like voices from the past.”

D.N. Danner, Whitebreast Township, Iowa; August, 1923

hanging bat

“Every cave in the Ozarks has two or three names, because one group of folks will come by and name it, and move on, and the next folks to come along give it a different name. One of the prettiest waterfalls in a cave is Eden Falls in Eden Cave at Lost Valley. But there are others, too. One of the biggest caves ever used for dancing is at Bella Vista, Arkansas; there was a speakeasy there during Prohibition. But other caves were used as dancing halls as well. “One cave was called Faralone Cave....”

— excerpted from Young, Richard & Judy Dockrey, Ozark Ghost Stories, August House Publishers Inc., 1995.

Missouri, also known as the "Cave State," has more than 4,500 known caves, more than any other state. Most of these caves, defined as cavities beneath the earth's surface large enough for human entry, were formed when rainwater percolated into the ground, dissolving the limestone and dolomite rocks.

— excerpted from the Missouri State Museum, Jefferson City, Missouri

Marvel Cave Cathedral Room

  • Carved by the chisel of slow time
  • Held by the sculpturing hand of God,
  • From paterns in his dreams sublime,
  • The dreams that made us fire from clod,
  • Unutterably great and still,
  • Wrought by his waters to his will.
  • Hammered and chiseled, arched and shaped
  • Will consummate art festooned and draped
  • With golden, gleaming helectites
  • And countless crystal stalactites.
  • And one vast giant stalagmite
  • Stands sentinel through endless night.
  • Orion and Pleiades
  • Mountains and flowers and streams and trees
  • Are masterpieecs, as are these.
  • A secret shrine,
  • Ensculpted design
  • Encompassed by the nether gloom.
  • Here, something lingers, subtle, fine,
  • Irradiations, veiled, devine;
  • God’s temple and the age’s tomb.

— Genevieve Louise Lynch (1880—1972)

Arkansas Caves:

  • Blanchard Springs Caverns, Mountain View
  • Bull Shoals Caverns, Bull Shoals
  • Cosmic Caverns, Berryville
  • Hurricane River Cave, Pindall
  • Mystic Caverns, Harrison
  • War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake, Rogers

Missouri Caves:

  • Bluff Dwellers’ Cave, Noel
  • Bridal Cave, Camdenton
  • Fantastic Caverns, Springfield
  • Jacob’s Cave, Versailles
  • Marvel Cave, Branson
  • Maramec Caverns, Stanton
  • Onondaga and Cathedral Caves, Leasburg
  • Smallin Cave, Ozark
  • Talking Rocks Cavern, Branson West

— from the National Caves Association, Park City, Kentucky

Plate 1. Bear Den Cave, Drury-Mincy Conservation Area, Taney County, Missouri. December 16, 2008.

Smallin Cave Dam Detail

Plate 2. Smallin Cave natural dam. October 5, 2010.

Talking Rocks Cavern

Plate 3. Talking Rocks Cavern detail. October 27, 2010.

Round Spring Cavern

Plate 4. Round Spring Cavern, rural Shannon County, Missouri. February 21, 2009.

Round Spring Cavern

Round Spring Cavern is a deep cave consisting of two known passages. Each passage extends approximately one-half mile into the surrounding hills. Round Spring was opened as a show cave in 1932.

In 1964, the cave — along with nearby Round Spring — was donated to the national park service. It then became part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in 1972.

Care is taken to curtail damage in the cavern. Tours are limited to 15 persons and visitors carry hand-held lamps as Round Spring Cavern is not artificially illuminated.

The cavern is home to the occasional frog, as well as grotto salamanders, cave salamanders and eastern pipestrelle bats. The endangered gray bat (Myotis grisescens) has also been observed at Round Spring. — Information courtesy of the National Park Service.

May 25, 2009

Round Spring Cavern

Plate 4. Round Spring Cavern, rural Shannon County, Missouri. February 21, 2009.

chinkapin oak


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