Seneca Caverns

Useful Information

Location: Turnpike Exit 6A, Rt 4 South 14 km. From Bellevue Rt 269 south 6 km, Rd 178 west 3 km.
Open: MAY to Memorial Day Sat-Sun 10-17.
Memorial Day to Labor Day Tue-Sun 9-19.
Labor Day to OCT Sat-Sun 10-17.
Fee: Adults USD 13, Children (13-17) USD 10, Children (5-12) USD 6.50, Children (0-4) free, Seniors (62+) USD 10.
Reduced fee during flooding: Adults USD 8, Children (5-12) USD 5, Children (0-4) free.
Groups: only with reservation.
Classification: SpeleologyLimestone cave SpeleologyTectonic cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=12°.
Guided tours: D=60min
Address: Seneca Caverns, 15248 East Thompson, TR 178, Bellevue, OH 44811-9307, Tel. +1-419-483-6711. E-mail: contact
Seneca Caverns, PO Box 595, Flat Rock, Ohio 44828
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.


JUN-1872 discovered.
14-MAY-1933 opened to the public by Don Bell, a Bellevue trial lawyer and geology enthusiast.
1964 purchased by his son Dick Bell.


Seneca Caverns is at first a grey mouse compared to other caves, but it is a very special geological feature, which is really unique. Actually it is the only cave of its kind open to the public in the U.S.A. This cave is popularly called an earthquake cave, which is a cave formed by an earthquake, not by solution like most other caves. Actually this is not the correct speleological term. The cave was formed by an underground river which washed out seams of gypsum, a soft material which dissolves easily in water. The surrounding limestone collapsed, accumulating the fissures to form jagged underground cracks. A typical feature of the cave is ceiling and floor matching like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This resulted in the nickname of the cave, The Earth Crack.

The cave has seven levels, every level consisting of one irregular chamber. The largest chamber is 75 m long, the deepest level is 33 m below surface and has a subterranean stream, called Ole' Mist'ry River. It flows underground to Lake Erie.

The lower levels seven to five are frequently flooded, especially during spring and sometimes after longer periods of very wet weather. During this times the entrance fee is reduced, as it is not possible to see the whole cave. In the dry summer month the water level returns to normal and all seven levels are visited on the tours.

Seneca Cavern was discovered in 1872 by two boys, Peter Rutan and Henry Homer of Flat Rock, Ohio. They fell through a sinkhole while chasing rabbits. When they told about their discovery, the cave immediately started to attract amateur explorers and curious children. Many of the early visitors etched their names into the walls of one room. At this time the cave was known as Good's Cave, named after Emmanuel Good, who owned the farm on which the cave was located.

The cave was purchased by Don Bell, a Bellevue trial lawyer and geology enthusiast. He developed it and opened it to the public in 1933. With his wife, Fannie Mae, he decided to re-name it in honor of Chief John Seneca, a Native American whose tribe lived in this area when white settlement began. His son, Dick Bell, gave tours of the caverns to visitors since he was a small boy. The cave inspired him to become a geological engineer, but at last he bought the cave from his father in 1964. The tours are now given by younger guides, but he still does special tours for college students and scientists who are interested in the geologic background. Dick Bell was once president of the National Caves Association, the federation of commercial cave owners in the U.S.A.