Birth of a National Park - The Wonderful Wind Cave Improvement Company

Beyond Mining

Due to financial difficulties, the South Dakota Mining Company stopped paying the McDonalds. However, the McDonalds had found that people were interested in seeing this unusual cave. In 1890, the first cave tours were conducted.

 
Early Cave Tours

Early Cave Tours

NPS Photo Archive

 
John Stabler

John Stabler

NPS Photo Archive

Partners With the Stablers

Soon, the McDonalds began looking for a partner to help build the business. In 1892, John Stabler, saw the financial value of the cave and bought an interest in the Wonderful Wind Cave Improvement Company. His sons and daughter, George, Charles, and Katie, helped lead tours and explore the cave.

 
William Jennings Bryan is the man in the middle of the photo with a child on his lap. Katie Stabler is on the high left. John Stabler is the lower left.

William Jennings Bryan is the man in the middle of the photo with a child on his lap. Katie Stabler is on the high left. John Stabler is the lower left.

NPS Photo Archive

Making a Name for the Place

John Stabler knew that Hot Springs was a popular tourist destination and money could be made by promoting the cave. They invited famous people to visit. Governor Lee of South Dakota and William Jennings Bryan were guests. Bryan reported that he "was enthusiastic over the beauty of the cave." These visits were advertised in the local newspapers and brought attention to the cave.

 
Evans Plunge in Hot Springs, South Dakota

Evans Plunge in Hot Springs, South Dakota

NPS Photo Archives

 

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