Birth of a National Park - The McDonalds Arrive
In 1889 the mineral rights to the cave were sold to the South Dakota Mining Company. Soon after J.D. McDonald was hired to manage the claim. With J.D. came two of his sons, Elmer and Alvin, and his daughter, Mary.
NPS Photo Archive
Alvin Falls in Love With the Cave
The McDonalds didn't find gold, but they did find a special cave. One of the boys, Alvin, fell in love with the cave. He began to explore the cave. Alvin began recording his explorations. His journal states:
On the first day of January 1891 I saw fit to keep a record of the inside workings at Wind Cave, ...which I called... "The Private Account Of A.F. McDonald, Permanent Guide of Wind Cave". ...By the word "exploring" I mean "finding cavities that no human beings have yet discovered.
Respectfully yours, Z. U. Q.
P.S. For the meaning of these initials or any other initials used in the pages of this book, inquire of the guide of any of the Celebrated Caverns of America.
Following in Alvin’s Footsteps
Today, explorers of the historic zone of the cave are following in Alvin’s footsteps. The tour routes that are used today are the same routes that McDonald used.
Did You Know?
Winds caused by changes in barometric pressure are what give Wind Cave its name. These winds have been measured at the cave's walk-in entrance at over 70 mph. The winds at the natural entrance of the cave attracted the attention of Native Americans and early settlers.