• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Birth of a National Park - The McDonalds Arrive

The McDonalds

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.

McDonald Family: Jesse, Elmer, Mary, Alvin
The McDonald Family: Jesse, Elmer, Mary, and Alvin
NPS Photo Archive
Alvin McDonald Posing in Studio

Alvin McDonald Posing in Studio

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.

It is not uncommon to find evidence of Alvin’s exploration.

It is not uncommon to find evidence of Alvin’s exploration.

NPS Photo

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?

Bull Elk

Elk were the most widely distributed member of the deer family in North America and spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Mexico to northern Alberta. Elk began to disappear in the eastern United States in the early 1800s. More...