Birth of a National Park - Publicizing the Cave

Historic sepia-toned photograph of three men and one woman on an early tour in Wind Cave
Early Tour into Wind Cave

NPS Photo Archive

The Petrified Man

The Stablers presented many publicity “stunts” to advertise the cave. They “found” a petrified man in Wind Cave Canyon and placed him in the cave. For a small sum you could look at “the petrified man”.

Historic black and white photographic portrait of (from left to right): Alvin McDonald, Paul Alexander Johnstone, and John Moore
Alvin McDonald - left Paul Alexander Johnstone - center John Moore - right

NPS Photo Archive

A Mind Reader!

A mind reader, Professor Paul Alexander Johnstone, came to the Black Hills in 1893 to find a hat pin that had been secreted in the cave. John Moore, a writer for the Deadwood Times and the Omaha World Herald was with them. After 3 days of searching and 3 days of publicity, the pin was located in the Standing Rock Chamber on today's Candlelight Tour.

Exploration continued and on March 20,1892, George A. Stabler, Alvin McDonald, Elmer McDonald, J.D. McDonald discovered the Fairgrounds. It was the largest room in Wind Cave until the Club Room was found in 1964.

Historic sepia-toned photographic portrait of Alvin McDonald at the Columbian Exposition
Alvin McDonald at the Columbian Exposition

NPS Photo Archive

Going to the Fair

In 1893, the McDonalds and Stablers took cave specimens to the Colombian Exposition in Chicago to promote the cave nationally. Unfortunately, on the trip Alvin caught typhoid fever. He died December 15, 1893. The Hot Springs Star reported that Alvin was now “the chief guide to the pearly gates of the Eternal City.”


Last updated: February 21, 2018

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Hot Springs, SD 57747


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