• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Defining Moments - Discovery of the Spillway

The discovery of the Spillway

Jan Conn by the shore of Calcite Lake

Jan Conn by the shore of Calcite Lake

NPS Photo by Dave Schnute

The history of the exploration of Wind Cave is filled with singular holes leading to miles of cave, such as the Natural Opening which is the only known natural entrance to the cave.

Within the cave, it was the discovery of the Spillway, found in 1964 by Herb and Jan Conn and David Schnute, that opened up exploration at Wind Cave and led to over 70 miles of cave. Prior to their discovery, the cave's mileage hovered around eight to ten miles for decades.

The discovery of the Spillway on July 25, 1964, quickly led to finding the Club Room, one of the cave's largest rooms, and Calcite Lake, the area's water table. The discovery of the Spillway proved to be a boon to exploration and one that explorers are still reaping benefits from today.

Did You Know?

A picture of Alvin McDonald in his caving hat.

Alvin McDonald was the first systematic explorer of Wind Cave. He explored the cave from 1890 until his death in 1893. More...