Birth of a National Park - Exploring with Alvin
NPS Photo Archive
Alvin McDonald was the first true explorer of Wind Cave. He systematically researched and explored the cave by recording information about the cave and the passages, naming rooms and routes, and making maps. Alvin’s journal gives us insights into the unusual decorations he found and the understanding people of those times had of the cave.
A Complex and Intriguing Cave
In 1892, Alvin reported that he had “given up the idea of finding the end to Wind Cave.” On April 13, 1894 the Hot Springs Star reported: “They are still finding new rooms at the Wind Cave and we have about come to the conclusion there is no end to it.” Today explorers tend to agree with Alvin. Wind Cave is a vast wilderness and the early explorers helped those who followed understand that it is an intriguing, unique place.
Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.