Early Development of Lehman Caves
Digital Image Copyright 2002, Great Basin Association
Some of the first projects involved breaking paths into unexlpored areas with sledgehammers. Ropes and ladders were assembled throughout the cave to assist with navigation. Approximately 800 people toured the cave before September of 1885, with hundreds of visitors every year thereafter. Most were personally guided by Absalom himself.
Wagonloads of cave formations appeared at the state fair in Reno, and newpapers continued to spread the word about the new cave in eastern Nevada. In order to devote more time to the cave, Lehman sold his ranch so he could move to a new location next to the cave entrance. But he died in 1891, before making his dream a reality.
The Quiet Years
After World War I, automobile travel increased, and the construction of a new highway (Hwy 50) near Lehman Caves renewed interest in the area. The attention prompted C.C. Roak, the Grand Central Highway Association Director from Tonopah, and Nevada Senator Taskie Odie to seek National Monument status for the caves.