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.
One of Alvin's major goals was to find the end of Wind Cave. Although he never managed to accomplish this, he left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. Alvin taught us to love the cave and the need to protect this fragile wilderness. Alvin's courage and perseverance while exploring an unknown piece of the American frontier more than 135 years ago has kindled a fire in others to follow in his footsteps. Hopefully, you will remember explorers like Alvin McDonald and go into the world and explore and protect some our final frontiers. For as long as there are wild places in the world that continue to beckon us to come explore, there will always be individuals like Alvin brave enough to answer that call of the wild.
Click here to read more of Alvin's Diary
Did You Know?
Lewis and Clark, while on their journey up the Missouri River in 1804, noted that this "wild dog of the prairie...appears here in infinite numbers." More...