Born from a bitter feud and coming of age during the Great Depression, Wind Cave National Park has grown into the park first envisioned by early proponents. It was created over one hundred years ago when President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation on January 9, 1903, establishing what is now one of the oldest national parks in the country and the first one to protect a cave. Over the last century, the development of this national park in South Dakota has mirrored the maturing of the National Park idea in America. Though small for a national park on the surface, today it boasts one of the longest cave in the world; this three-dimensional maze cave contains the world's best collection of a rare formation known as boxwork. The park's 33,851 acres of mixed-grass prairie and ponderosa pine forest are home to a slice of the American West seldom found today.
Defining moments are rarely recognized as they occur. It is only later, when the origin of an event is traced, that it is clear a new direction or a significant change has happened. Thus it is with Wind Cave. Throughout the years, many people and circumstances helped shaped the park's development, but there are at least eight key events still influencing the park today. This park developed and thrived because of a particular set of circumstances and through the work of dedicated individuals. Each event is important in itself, but together, they combine to form the foundation, purpose, and continued preservation of Wind Cave National Park.