Fountain Cave

 

Introduction

Fountain Cave's entrance was buried by the construction of nearby Shepard Road in the 1960s. In that process the ravine that led to the cave was filled burying the entrance leaving it niether evident nor accessible. A historical sign marks the approximate location on the path above the cave.

History

Long known to the local Dakota as IN-YAN TI-PI, Fountain Cave was the first building site for what was to become the city of St. Paul. Pierre (Pig's Eye) Parrant, a person of dubious reputation that sold alchol to both Native Americans and to soldiers from the nearby Fort Snelling, built a cabin at the mouth of the cave in 1838, but was evicted two years later by the military authorities at Fort Snelling.

After Pig's Eye's departure, the cave was used as a storehouse and then as a tourist attraction from 1850-1880 when tourists would marvel at its chambers and the pure stream that issued from the mouth of the cave. St. Paul residents visited the cave for its cool air and cooler water on hot summer days. As the cave's popularity increased a pavilion was opened nearby in 1852, which offered refreshments and lights for exploring the cave. Fountain Cave was even featured in the Tourists' Guide to the Health and Pleasure Resorts of the Golden Northwest.

There were many human activities that led to the deterioration of Fountain Cave. In the late 1800's, sewage and storm water were discharged through the cave by a railroad facility, reducing the cave's value as a tourist attraction. Nearby residential development altered the area's hydrology by filling the wetlands and slowing the flow of Fountain Creek into the cave. Finally, in 1960, the cave's entrance was buried during the construction of Shepard Road.

Fountain Cave was estimated to have been 1,150 feet in length, and was possibly Minnesota's longest natural sandstone cave carved by its stream. Inside the cave, a 150-foot-long winding hall led to a beautiful circular room about 50 feet in diameter.

Hours, Directions, and Contact Information

  • The historical marker is located on the bike path on the bluff above the cave location, just off Shepard Road in Saint Paul.
  • GPS: 44.923457, -93.122789
  • There is no contact information.

Nearby sites:

Lilydale Regional Park, Harriet Island, Mississippi River Visitor Center, Fort Snelling State Park, The Brickyards, Crosby Farm Regional Park

Last updated: November 15, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Phone:

(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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