Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Limespur Cave


Useful Information

Location: 30km west of Three Forks on Montana Highway 2. 27km east of Whitehall on Montana Highway 2. From Chehalis 19km south on I-5, exit #68, east on Hwy. 12 for 5km. At Jackson Hwy. turn right towards south, park entrance after 5km.
Open: MAY to 14-JUN daily 9-16:30 (last tour). 15-JUN to Labor Day daily 9-18:30 (last tour). Labor Day to SEP daily 9-16:30 (last tour). [2004]
Fee: Adults USD 6. [2004]
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: electric
Dimension: L=3,067m, VR=175m, T=10°C.
Guided tours: L=3,200m, D=120min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, PO Box 949, Three Forks, MT 59752, Tel: +1-406-287-3541, +1-406-287-3032, Fax: +1-406-287-3034. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

NOV-1892 cave discovered by Tom Williams and Bert Pannell, two hunters.
1898 first exploration by Tom Williams and some friends.
1901 cave developed and opened to the public by Dan Morrison, named Limespur Cave.
1908 Northern Pacific Railway claimed that the cave was on its property, won in a trial and offered the property to the federal government to be preserved as a park.
1908 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the creation of Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument.
1937 deed for the property was transferred to the State of Montana, start of development.
1950 train and tram transport visitors to the cave.
1953 operation transferred to the State Highway Commission.
1965 managed by the Montana Department of Fish and Game.
1973 tram abandoned.
1975 train abandoned.

Description

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is Montana's oldest state park, featuring one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest. It was founded to protect the cave. This cave was discovered by Tom Williams and Bert Pannell in 1892, who explored it six years later with some friends. They developed it with Dan Morrison and opened it to the public. But Northern Pacific Railway claimed that the cave was on its property, won in a trial and offered the property to the federal government to be preserved as a park. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the creation of the Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument. The cave was closed to the public. But after the Federal

Despite the name, the caverns were never visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They were visiting the area while searching for the source of the Jefferson River, in the hope to find a navigable route to the Pacific Ocean. The source of the Jefferson River is near Dillon, Montana and so it was of no use for the expedition. On this occasion they visited the park area and stoped for a meal.

The tour includes a steep ascend from the visitor center to the cave entrance, which is rather strenuous. There are various narrow and very low passages, so the visitors have to crouch, and the tour is not advisable for people with klaustrophobia. Appropriate clothes are probably a good idea. Nevertheless the cave is developed with electric light and paved paths.