• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

    Mississippi

    National River & Recreation Area Minnesota

Fountain Cave

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Note: Fountain Cave's entrance was buried by the construction of Shepard Road in 1960. The entrance is niether evident nor accessible. A historical sign marks the location.
 

Overview
Long known to the local Dakota as IN-YAN TI-PI, Fountain Cave was the first building site for what was to become the city of St. Paul. Pierre (Pig's Eye) Parrant, a person of dubious reputation, built a cabin at the mouth of the cave in 1838. Parrant was evicted two years later by the military authorities at Fort Snelling.

After Pig's Eye's departure, the cave was used as a storehouse and then as a tourist attraction from 1850-1880. St. Paul residents visited the cave for its cool air and cooler water. As the cave's popularity increased a pavilion was opened nearby in 1852, which offered refreshments and lights for exploring the cave. Fountain Cave was even featured in the Tourists' Guide to the Health and Pleasure Resorts of the Golden Northwest.

There were many human activities that led to the deterioration of Fountain Cave. In the late 1800's, sewage and storm water were discharged through the cave by a railroad facility, reducing the cave's value as a tourist attraction. Nearby residential development altered the area's hydrology by filling the wetlands and slowing the flow of Fountain Creek into the cave. Finally, in 1960, the cave's entrance was buried during the construction of Shepard Road.

Fountain Cave was estimated to have been 1,150 feet in length, and was possibly Minnesota's longest natural sandstone cave. The formation of the cave was a result of erosion. As stream water made its way to the Mississippi, the sandstone wore away. Inside the cave, a 150-foot-long winding hall led to a beautiful circular room about 50 feet in diameter.

Contact Information: None.

 

 

Related Activities: Natural History, History & Culture

 
 

Did You Know?

The wide Mississippi River

At Lake Onalaska, near LaCrosse WI, the Mississippi River is about 4 miles wide. The combination of water held behind Lock and Dam #7 and water held by damming the Black River form this broad reach of the Mississippi River.