What Compels a Man to Enter the Hidden Passageways Underground?
Is it just sheer drive, determination, fear, plain bravery, or stupidity? Elijah Davidson, the first known man to enter Oregon Caves National Monument, entered in pursuit of his favorite dog Bruno and a bear in late November of 1874. The powerful friendship that is built between man and his animal can change the course of history as it did here in the Illinois Valley. After chasing the bear and his dog into the cave, Elijah Davidson was lost in utter darkness as his last match goes out deep inside. Known to have been a small man in stature standing only 5 feet 5 inches, who would wrestle bears, this man had more gumption than most.
The Hunter From Williams, Oregon
Elijah Revisits the Caves with His Brother
Elijah and His Family Move to Nome, Alaska
Elijah Returns to Oregon and Recounts the Discovery of the Caves
This once tough little man who was known by his family to tackle and wrestle bears with his bare hands, showed his weakness in front of groups when asked to recount his cave story. He found that the discovery story of Oregon Caves published was not accurate as to what happened. There was no way to change that story now except for Elijah to write an account of his own, which was published in 1922 in the Oregon History Quarterly, 48 years after the fact.
The Discovery Story Lives On
After losing his wife in 1913, Elijah moved to Williams Creek where he lived until September 9, 1927. As a granddaughter remembers, Elijah never owned a car and when family came to visit, Elijah met them in a buckboard and forded the stream bordering his farm.
Elijah Davidson remained a quite man towards the end of his days but the story of his discovery lives on here at the Monument along with many more adventure stories, inside and outside the cave.
Did You Know?
One of the largest cave restoration projects in the nation occurred at Oregon Caves during the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, most of the work was done by volunteers! Volunteers still make an important contribution to the park. Learn more about current volunteer opportunities at Oregon Caves. More...