Marengo Cave National Landmark


Useful Information

Location: From Indianapolis south on I-65 to exit 6B(New Albany), I-265 west to exit #118 (Georgetown). Turn right at the end of exit onto Ind. S.R. 64, go west 40km.
Open: Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 9-18, Spring and Fall weekdays: 9:30-17:30, Spring and Fall weekends: 9-18, Rest of year daily 9-17 [2003]
Fee: Crystal Palace Tour: Adults $12, Children (4-12) $6, Group (12+) Adults $9, Children (4-12) $5.75.
Dripstone Trail Tour: Adults $13, Children (4-12) $6.50, Group (12+) Adults $10, Children (4-12) $5.75.
Both Tours: Adults $19, Children (4-12) $9, Group (12+) Adults $14, Children (4-12) $85.
Old Town Spring Cave (spelunking tour): per person $22. [2003]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric
Dimension: L=8,948, VR=23m, T=11°C.
Guided tours: Crystal Palace Tour: L=530m, D=40min.
Dripstone Trail Tour: L=1,600m, D=70min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Anon (ny): Marengo Cave, US National Landmark, paperback, 32 pp, many B&W photos.
Address: Marengo Cave, U.S. National Landmark, P.O. Box 217, Marengo Cave Road, Marengo, IN 47140, Tel. +1-812-365-2705, Fax: +1-812-365-2705
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:24 $

History

 
06-SEP-1883discovered by Blanch and Orris Heistand, two children who noticed an opening near the bottom of a sinkhole.
1896Samuel M. Stewart dies and ownership of the cave passed to his wife, Mary Stewart.
1899Mary Stewart dies and the cave is owned by the ten heirs.
1900Marengo Cave Company formed to operate the cave for the inheritors. Samuel M Stewart (Mitch) was the first manager.
1910Crystal Palace entrace built.
1911J. M. Weathers takes over as manager.
1913J. M. Weathers Jr hires William (Bill) Clifton as a caretaker. He works as a guide for 52 years.
1923First electric lights.
1929Charles Fitzgerald takes over as manager and wants to buy the part of the cave under John E (Ed) Ross's land. Unable to come to an agreement the 700 feet of passage under the Ross's land is fenced off.
1955Local business man Floyd Denton buys the cave. New lighting system installed.
1960Denton dies and his wife Lucille runs the cave.
1963Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the cave is designated as a civil defence shelter for 435 people.
1965Mrs Denton's son-in-law, Jack Hollis, runs the cave
1971Tony Oldham visits the cave.
1972Ross dies and the fence comes down.
1973Four cavers, Gordon Smith, Terry Crayden, Gary Robertson and Pat Stephens, buy the cave. Terry Crayden is installed as manager.
1974Gary Robinson takes over a manager.
1978Ross section reopened and a new entrance Dripstone Trail Entrance is opened up.
1979Dripstone Trail Tour opened.
1979Cave closed due to flooding.
28-JUL-1982Armed robbery in cave. A former guide holds up a party with a shot gun and removes all their valuables. Caught two weeks later, gets 10 years in local jail.
1984Caves designated as a National Landmark.
1992a huge new section of the cave was discovered at the Blowing Bat Crawl.
23-MAY-2004cave temporarily closed due to heavy tornado.

Description

Marengo Cave has been described as one of the most beautiful show caves in the eastern United State. It is noted for its large trunk passage, up to three meters high and 20 meters wide adorned with some very impressive and massive speleothems.

There are two different tours, the shorter one is very easy to walk and shows the most impressive speleothems. The longer tour is rather new, as it was opened in 1979, and shows especially huge numbers of soda straws and slender totem pole stalagmites.

There is some confusion about the date and the story how the cave was discovered. Local lore tells, Orris and Blanche Heistand, brother and sister at ages 15 and 11, discovered the cave. They first discovered it on 06-SEP-1883 a few days passed before anybody else went to explore it. There is a written deposition by Orris Heistand who wrote it before he died, which tells this version of the story and so it is the commonly told story. But if you read the book A History of Crawford County, Indiana from 1926, written by Hazen Hayes Pleasant, a Central Normal College professor, you will hear a different story. On 18-AUG-1883 some boys stumbled onto the cave while chasing a rabbit. They ran into town and immediately a large crowd of men and boys went to cave to explore it.

Discovery stories are often a bit strange. After one hundred years it is often not clear who discovered a cave, especially if this happened in distinct steps. Someone stumbles upon the entrance, another one enters the cave for the first time, a third one makes a true exploration while his predecessors just peeked into the entrance. And at last all of them tell their friend how they discovered the cave.

Concerning Marengo Cave, the story of chasing a rabbit or a bear into a hole is pretty common and told for most caves in Indiana, and actually all over the world. Probably Mr Pleasant mixed up two different caves. The best documented story, which is commonly agreed on, is about Orris and Blanche Hiestand sliding down into a small opening at the bottom of a sinkhole, using candles for a light source. This happened on Thursday, September 6, 1883. The following Sunday, the 9th, Mitch Stewart, son of the property owner and his teenage friends explored the main passageway.


See also


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