Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fantastic Caverns

A few years ago, I wrote an article about the history of Fantastic Caverns that was published in the Ozarks Mountaineer. Probably the thing that stands out most in my mind from the research I did for the article concerns the popular story about the twelve adventurous women from Springfield who comprised the first explorers of the cave. The reason I particularly remember this aspect of the story is because I learned from my research that it's not true. After John Knox discovered the cave on his land northwest of Springfield, he announced his discovery and opened it up for public exploration in early 1867. The first group to explore the cavern went out from Springfield on February 14 and contained no women. The group that included the twelve women from the Springfield Women's Athletic Club did not explore the cave until February 27, almost two weeks later. Contemporaneous newspaper reports in the Springfield Tri-Weekly Patriot make these facts clear, but the idea of twelve adventurous women composing the first exploratory party makes a good story. So, it has been handed down as part of the popular mythology of Fantastic Caverns and is still perpetuated today, I believe, in some of the tourist attraction's own brochures. Why quibble over two weeks? I suppose.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the names of the women from the athletic Club who did do the exploring?

January 14, 2014 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

I checked my files and can't find the newspaper account containing the names of the women at the moment, but I'll look some more. I think the women's names can also still be seen inside the cave, where they were etched.

January 15, 2014 at 5:40 PM  

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